Welcome! Big Picture Agriculture is produced by Kay McDonald of Boulder, Colorado. I grew up on a family farm in Northeastern Nebraska, left the farm for city lights, and never dreamt that I’d return to my roots by writing about agriculture.
My “holistic view” of farming stems from a number of values and observations:
• I’ve watched, sadly, as the region of my childhood has depopulated over the years. Ignoring the human side of the farming equation doesn’t work, as today’s rural (especially Midwestern) areas are proving.
• The efficiency model for agriculture doesn’t work for the soil, for the Monarch’s, or for the bees. Its not just about the bushels per acre.
• I embrace science in solving some of the problems which agriculture faces. I don’t see this as contradictory to right-agriculture.
• My background in medicine gives me a realistic view of human diets and health; it helps me differentiate between fads and hype versus the truth.
• I believe that growing our own food and getting back to the basics in cooking helps make us more human, healthier, and more active. It is my wish that everyone could partake in growing some of their own food.
• I also support integrating livestock and poultry into farm systems as they are important in ecosystems and for soil health.
• If only we had a long-term view of using up this Earth’s natural resources, like groundwater, for example. Considering future generations is part of holism.
• Energy issues are also an important consideration in evaluating methods used in our food production systems.
• One of my basic tenets is this… whenever possible, simplify, don’t make it more complex.
• One cannot ignore economics, or policy. These both matter greatly.
• It is my hope that this site helps bridge the gap between the investor minded and the sustainable minded. Because, yes, there are a lot of investors who hang out here.
• We should be vigilant about not polluting ourselves to death — air, water, soil, food.
• We should consider regional carrying capacities, or food shed models. This could help in preparing for a climate that is changing, and for preserving crop and seed biodiversity.
My formal education spanned the areas of science, humanities, and medicine. It is my hope that my appreciation of art and literature comes through to readers who stick around here.
This site’s goal is to inform, explain, and surprise readers while showing the global story of food and agricultural production through the use of pictures and other visuals.
My work has appeared on:
- Boerderij Interview January 2014 print edition (largest farm magazine in Netherlands)
- Washington-Post on Fertilizer April 2013
- AGree on Synthetic Biology April 2013
- Mark Bittman, food writer for NYTs Links multiple times 2013
- Boerderij Interview January 2013 print edition (largest farm magazine in Netherlands)
- Al Jazeera Live News Interview August 20, 2012
- CNN Opinion Piece: “Paying more for food? Blame the ethanol mandate” August 2012
- NYTs Room for Debate: Corn’s Dominio Effect February 2011
- NYTs Dot Earth here and here and here
- Mother Jones/Tom Philpott and here SEP 2013.
- The Atlantic
- Forbes here and here
- Seeking Alpha Editor’s Pick: Will Price Inflation Of Meat, Corn, Food, And Farmland Continue? February 2012
- Michael Pollan, Naked Capitalism, Abnormal Returns, Energy Bulletin, The Oil Drum, CME Group, Genetic Literacy Project, and More.