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Center for a Livable Future


The Farm/Food/Health Connection  

7th Annual Edward and Nancy Dodge Lecture
April 25, 2006



Modern science, rooted in seventeenth century thought, suggests that certainty can best be achieved through separation----separating subject from object, mind from body, fact from value and humans from nature. This doctrine of separation taught us to see the world in fragments, rather than relationships, and set the stage for an industrial revolution based on mechanization which has informed most of our human economies, including our food and farming systems. This mechanized world view led to the evolution of food and farming systems based on the principles of specialization, simplification and concentration.

This industrial paradigm has now left us with a series of health problems that are all inter-connected---the health of our soil, our farms, our environment, our diets, and our own health. The Farm/Food/Health Connection will make a modest attempt at re-connecting the dots and making a case for a new world view based on Aldo Leopold's concept of an "ecological conscience."

Related links

“What Does Agriculture Have to do with Public Health?” Download lecture and slides from Fred Kirschenmann’s lecture in the online course, “Food Production, Public Health and the Environment” .

The Edward and Nancy Dodge Lecture is supported through the R. Edward Dodge, Jr. and Nancy L. Dodge Family Foundation Endowment, established through the generosity of Dr. Edward Dodge, MPH ’67, and his late wife Nancy to provide core funding for the Center for a Livable Future.

Fred L. Kirschenmann

Fred L. Kirschenmann

Fred L. Kirschenmann, PhD
Distinguished Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Center, Iowa State University
Professor of Religion and Philosophy
North Dakota rancher

Frederick L. Kirschenmann, a longtime leader in national and international sustainable agriculture, is Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. From July 2000 to November 2005, he served as the Center's second director since its creation in 1987.  Kirschenmann came to the Center from south central North Dakota where he operated his family's 3,500-acre certified organic farm. He continues to oversee management of the farm and has an appointment in the ISU Department of Religion and Philosophy.

He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago, and has written extensively about ethics and agriculture. He has held national and international appointments, including the USDA's National Organic Standards Board. He is a board member for the Food Alliance, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, The Nature Institute, and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture at the Rockefeller Center in New York. He also chairs and is a charter member of the Whiterock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that manages a 1,300-acre conservation area in west-central Iowa.

Kirschenmann's academic credits include several years teaching and as administrator, culminating in a position as academic dean at Curry College in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1976 he returned to the family farm when his father became ill. By 1980, the farm was certified organic, one of the early operations to make the transition. The farm is a natural prairie livestock grazing system that combines a nine-crop rotation of cereal grains, forages, and green manure.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was created by the Iowa Legislature to develop sustainable agricultural practices that are both profitable and conserve natural resources. Since his appointment to the Center, Kirschenmann has been a frequent speaker, engaging audiences to help shape a new vision for agriculture. New Center directions include research initiatives in marketing and food systems, ecology and policy.