Picasso, peat and produce

If Don Quixote rode today, he just might ride a Novara touring bike. This re-rendering of my favorite Picasso is from a t-shirt I saw at our local farmer’s market. Spelled out in big letters across the back was the question: “What is Farmland Conservation?”

A strapping lad named Justin Ellis is on a mission to answer that question. Like so many of us, Justin was a suburban kid who woke up to the realization that his experience of American’s agriculture came on clearance racks and under supermarket cellophane... and that many rural communities live under pressure from cities that threaten to swallow them up. But unlike so many of us, he decided to bike across the country to find out more.

So he set off on a 4,000 mile research expedition. He is visiting 80 farms along the way, ranging from small sustainable farms to large industrial outfits. He works a few days at each, in an effort to better understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of their operations. Then he submits stories about each to the local community newspapers as well as his ongoing travel blog (Check it out if you're interested in organic farming, efforts to preserve farmland, or just becoming more conscious of what's in your refrigerator).

And like the man from La Mancha, Justin seems to be tilting at windmills but really takes aim at the assumptions we swallow in today’s America, subjecting even the food we eat to a dose of healthy questioning.

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