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« How America Lost Iraq, by Aaron Glantz | Main | Inequality Matters, by Lardner & Smith »


This Land Is Their Land, by Evaggelos Vallianatos

By an everyday book reader
May 1, 2007

Few would argue that there is a greater need than that of growing food without wrecking society and the land and poisoning the global ecosystem. What is necessary is to build this agriculture to the point it can produce enough food for all, and repair the social and ecological fabric of the world's countrysides. Yet "scientific" agriculture and agricultural policies ignore or attack the small family farm and peasant alternatives to conventional farming.

It is dangerous fighting futile wars against nature. Food is nutrition, politics, ecology, and culture all rolled into one.

This Land Is Their Land: How Corporate Farms Threaten the World
by Evaggelos G. VallianatosBook Picture

Softcover: 315 pages
ISBN: 9781567513585, 1567513581
Common Courage Press
February 2006

"Sobering, lively, brilliant..." -- Heather Williams, associate professor of politics, Pomona College

"Commerce produces wealth, but agriculture ensures freedom." -- Jean Jacques Rousseau

"Evaggelos Vallianatos, drawing not only from his proud Greek heritage and farming experiences, but from his life confronting government bureaucracy, sets forth in this rich and poignant book, the premise that in abandoning family farm agriculture to corporate agribusiness we not only place the very staff of life at peril along with our nation's rural culture, but we deny the age-old principles of economic and social justice without which democracy can not spread and flourish." -- A.V. Krebs, author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness

"This book brilliantly uncovers what has gone wrong in rural America and in a 'fast food,' globalized world. Vallianatos combines years of historical scholarship, a trying but useful career at EPA, and poignant childhood memories of family farming in his native Greece to produce a critical essay on the fate of American agriculture and democracy. Deeply disturbing, This Land is Their Land, is also an inspiring call for citizen action and social transformation." - Jefferson Boyer, professor of anthropology and founder, Goodnight Family Sustainable Program, Appalachian State University

E.G. Vallianatos, former analyst with the US Environmental Protection Agency, is author of This Land is their Land: How Corporate Farms Threaten the World. For a sample of this author's writing style, here is an article by him published in the The Progressive Populist, Jan. 2006:

Unshackle the Mississippi

Seeing New Orlean''s under water was painful. I lived for a year in that beautiful city, teaching environmental studies at the University of New Orleans. I had the opportunity to visit much more than the French Quarter. I flew with a hydroplane over the mouths of the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya Rivers, exploring the vulnerable land down to the Gulf Coast. My students and I traveled north and south, seeing the incredible beauty, environmental devastation and poverty of Louisiana.

Louisiana is part of the Gulf of Mexico, a huge region endowed by 33 major rivers, 207 estuaries and about 4 million acres of wetlands. About 75% of the migrating waterfowl in the US use the Gulf's wetlands as a critical habitat. Other birds, like gulls, terns and shorebirds nest and feed year-round on the numerous mudflats, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and barrier beaches on the Gulf.

More than 50% of the continental US drains into the Gulf by way of the Mississippi River. This river also created southern Louisiana. Its delta is home to some 40% of the coastal wetlands found in America. It is in these marshes that genesis is taking place daily: Countless water animals and birds come to life and develop in the delta marshlands.

Yet developers and farmers destroy thousands of acres of wetlands every year. Giant agriculture uses more than 85% of those lost wetlands. Since the 1970s, in the Mississippi delta, about 30 to 35 square miles of wetlands are gone forever every year -- an ecological catastrophe, which, in about 35 years, will make New Orleans, if it still exists, an oceanfront denuded place.

The delta disaster is entirely man-made. It is 300 years old. Since the 18th century when the Europeans stole Louisiana from Native Americans, the conquerors have been waging a war against nature. With levees on both banks of the Mississippi River, people have shackled the mighty river to a regulated stream for commerce. In addition, private property owners in southern Louisiana, chemical factories along the Mississippi River, and cities are not drowned in the spring floods of the river. But nature does not exist for the ephemeral pleasures and benefits of people.

The Mississippi's sediment and fresh water were the very roots of creation of the delta. Now that they no longer keep the delta above sea level and they no longer renew the vegetation and life of the coastal marshes, the entire delta, product of a millennial evolution, is inexorably being poisoned by salt water and the massive pollutants of the farmers and the petrochemical industry. It is eaten away by relentless attack of ocean waves.

We know that wetlands purify water and check the climatic orgies of nature like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that, for all practical purposes, annihilated New Orleans. These natural disasters were especially violent because they picked up extra energy from global warming, which the United States ignores. Katrina and Rita were more than a divine punishment for America, responsible for 25% of the greenhouse gasses warming the planet. If we go on with such irresponsible and immoral policies, nature will hit us with more vengeance.

On a local scale, the destruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast ought to convince governments, farmers and developers that wetlands are precious in their own right and, therefore, those who destroy them should be beyond the pale of our culture.

There will be no future in the Louisiana coast without unshackling the Mississippi River, at least south of New Orleans, making it possible for the mighty river to rebuild its delta. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has no intention of defending Louisiana's coastal wetlands or of letting nature defend New Orleans, in which case, people ought to abandon New Orleans now. Business as usual, even if that means erecting taller levees around the Mississippi River, will not protect New Orleans from another drowning.

It is dangerous fighting futile wars against nature.

This Land Is Their Land: How Corporate Farms Threaten the World
by Evaggelos G. VallianatosBook Picture

Softcover: 315 pages
ISBN: 9781567513585, 1567513581
Common Courage Press
February 2006

"Sobering, lively, brilliant..." -- Heather Williams, associate professor of politics, Pomona College

"Commerce produces wealth, but agriculture ensures freedom." -- Jean Jacques Rousseau


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