Today’s understanding of urban agriculture has been warped by the philosophers of ancient Athens.
When Socrates, Plato, and the gang hung out at the farmers market in downtown Athens, they argued a lot about the essence of beauty, truth, and justice.
They had no idea of the problems they would create for urban agriculture 2500 years later.
Ancient Greece, a major tributary to western culture, was obsessed with absolute and universal Truth — that’s Truth with a capital T and in the singular.
This singular (academics call it “essentialist”) legacy lives on in today’s thinking about food. Think of such commonly used expressions as food policy, food strategy, food culture, local food, sustainable food, alternative food, and urban agriculture. Not much pluralism, plurals or variation here!!
We betray the Greek origin of western styles of thinking every time we use the singular to discuss the opposite — the sheer abundance and bounty of foods and food choices that modern living and technologies offer.