Forty years ago, I sat on the summit of a hill in San Francisco and surveyed the valley below me, visualizing it as it once had been, with a forest and a free-running stream. The city, I knew, was going to have to go. I said to my companion, “Doug, we’re gonna have to tear all this down.” It looks like maybe it’s time to move that project off the back burner….
by Allison Arieff
O.K., the planet is officially out of (or back in?) alignment: American farmers are making money hand over fist while the hedge fund guys are wishing they’d put a little more cash under the mattress. Corn growers in the United States can no longer keep pace with the staggering global demand for the raw material of corn syrup and ethanol and so, seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a demand for more farmland.
That just looks wrong on the page!
But it’s true. We are running out of farmland and some people, like finance guru James Cramer in his recent column for New York magazine urging readers to invest in farm supply equipment, are suggesting — only a little facetiously — that housing developments may need to be razed to clear the way for more farmland.
That sounds crazy, but it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: for decades, we’ve systematically razed nearly every patch of land we’ve been able to in an effort to create more room for industry, technology and people, without really paying attention to what’s being lost in the process. With scores of homes being abandoned because of the current mortgage debacle, some innovative rethinking is going to have to happen around overbuilt subdivisions, master planned communities and urban high rises.