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Agricultural foundations Looking at food and farming as an ecologist


Agriculture One of the things I find most frustrating in agricultural research is that, despite the subject matter, it often bears little relationship to the fundamental facts of life. Too often, we hear all sorts of extravagant claims being made that a bit of more analytical thought would show were somewhat less than likely to work out. No names, no pack drill; let’s just say that natural selection has had an awful long time to try things out, and if something hasn’t arisen (yet) there may well be a good reason why it isn’t that great an idea. There are some people, however, bucking that trend, and Ford Denison is one of them. His book, Darwinian Agriculture: How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture came out in 2012, and I devoured it.

Some recent publications reminded me that I have long meant to talk to Ford Denison about his ideas. He was kind enough to agree, and while that is no substitute for reading his work, it might just provoke people who haven’t already done so to try. I hope so. No bones about it, the resulting episode is a personal pleasure for me. There is a danger, though, that in talking to someone about something I think I understand, at least partially, I forget to keep other listeners in mind. So I’d be interested to know what you thought of the show. And, more generally, would you be interested in more basic science of this kind, related, always, to food and drink?


  1. Just to be transparent, the link to the book is an Amazon Affiliate link; if you buy it, I get some paltry percentage. But nobody has yet, to my knowledge, ever done that for any of my links.
  2. My somewhat gushing review is here. I stand by it all.
  3. Banner image by Arnaud Sobczyk and used under a Creative Commons licence.