Saying No to a Farm-Free Future: The Case for an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods

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$19.95  $18.55
Chelsea Green Publishing UK
Publish Date
5.64 X 8.49 X 0.56 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Chris Smaje has coworked a small farm in Somerset, southwest England, for the last twenty years. Previously, he was a university-based social scientist, working in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey and the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College. Since switching focus to the practice and politics of agroecology, he's written for publications such as The Land, Dark Mountain, Permaculture magazine and Statistics Views, as well as academic journals such as Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and the Journal of Consumer Culture. Chris is the author of A Small Farm Future, writes the blog at and is a featured author at

Sarah Langford is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller In Your Defence. For ten years, she worked in criminal and family law in London. In 2017 she moved to Suffolk and, together with her husband, took on the management of his small family farm, an experience she wrote about in her book Rooted: Stories of Life, Land and a Farming Revolution. She now lives between Southwest London and Suffolk.


'We are heading to hell in a techcart driven by the unlikely twins of Extremist Rewilding and Big Food; if we don't pull on the brakes sharpish, our countryside will be reduced to a monoculture of lynxy scrub and our food grown in vats. If you want real food, food security and a truly biodiverse countryside, please, please read this book.' John Lewis-Stempel, author of Meadowland

'A thought-provoking, intelligent response to George Monbiot's Regenesis. As the author remarks, this is a provocation to thought rather than a summation of the truth. Setting out the principles of good agriculture that can have benefits to people, land and nature. A case for a rural agricultural landscape that delivers food without wrecking the planet. Agrarian localism as an alternative that may succeed given present challenges on alternative land use.' Jake Fiennes, author of Land Healer

'Chris Smaje's Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future is a timely response to those who are constructing a dystopia of farms without farmers, food without farms, while promoting more industrialisation of the food system. Farming with care on a small scale is the path of ecological regeneration and returning to the earth. Thank you, Chris, for writing this important book for all of us.' Vandana Shiva, activist and author of Terra Viva

'Chris Smaje has laid down an indictment - as unremitting as it is undeniable - that cuts through the jargon-filled, techno-worshipping agricultural futurists who promise silver-bullet fixes for having your cake and eating it too. This brilliant and compelling book is at once hopeful and persuasive about the future of food.' Dan Barber, chef at Blue Hill and author of The Third Plate

'Everyone in the food business needs to read this book. If you think the future rests in time-tested local authenticity, Smaje's arguments sound like affirming angels. If you think the future lies in techno-sophisticated urban manufacturing plants, you owe it to yourself to learn the best arguments from the opposing view.

For many of us in the local authentic food space, George Monbiot is our nemesis in the public debate of food's future. Will it be local, democratised and heritage driven, or will it be manufactured by techno-sophisticates suddenly converted to humble, charitable ends? Smaje cuts precisely and directly, eviscerating Monbiot with superb and quotable verbalese.

Never have I enjoyed reading a blow-by-blow narrative as much as this lively and superbly written polemic.' Joel Salatin, co-founder of Polyface Farm, and author of You Can Farm and Polyface Micro

'Chris Smaje shows us that it is people, working in communities and in tune with their local environment, who can provide answers to our food, energy and climate questions. In Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future, Chris has written an intelligent and absorbing analysis of a complex problem, and one that should be essential reading for us all.' Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and author of A Finer Future

'Chris Smaje provides a comprehensive and reasoned counter to George Monbiot's Regenesis, politely demolishing Monbiot's ecologically naïve belief that urban dwellers can subsist on food manufactured by corporations, presumably without the use of fossil fuel energy. Smaje's deeper, more global coverage of the social, cultural, economic and environmental realities of the agricultural dilemma raises issues that no one can afford to ignore. Without agriculture, we cannot have an orchestra, church, economy, city or any business. It is the foundation of civilisation under global threat of climate change.' Allan Savory, author of Holistic Management

'This book is the much-needed antidote to the crazy excesses of ecomodernism in all its guises. A paean to sanity and to humanity's reconnection with the living planet, this is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how we can move beyond the industrial paradigm to something that is actually regenerative; for anyone who wants to know how we can feed ourselves without recourse to fantasy fuel sources or further empowerment of the see-want-take value systems pushed by the multinationals and their outriders. It's essential reading, really, for anyone who eats, but most especially for farmers and growers and anyone involved in the creation of policy, at whatever level.' Manda Scott, author of the Boudica: Dreaming series and host of the Accidental Gods podcast

'This is a much-needed book - and Chris Smaje is exactly the person to write it. He builds his case with care and humility, highlighting the gaps in the evidence used by advocates of a 'farm-free' future, but also bringing into view the assumptions that are hidden behind their loud insistence that 'you can't argue with arithmetic'. For anyone disoriented by the ecomodernist turn in environmentalism, this is a book that will help you find your bearings.' Dougald Hine, author of At Work in the Ruins

'Chris Smaje's devastating critique of the farm-free future projected by ecomodernists is also an intriguing forecast of what Lewis Mumford in The City in History called the 'end of the megalopolitan cycle', and an eloquent appeal for reruralisation.' Simon Fairlie, author of Going to Seed
'A real powerhouse of a book. Chris meticulously disentangles the case for a future of our food being grown in laboratories for what it really is: energy intensive, corporate driven and lacking resilience. His justification for a mixed small-scale farming landscape, for a nature-rich, job-rich and food-rich world, is not just convincing for the betterment of our collective economic, social and environmental health, it's really humanity's only hope to restore our connection to this planet, and heal.' Lynn Cassells, coauthor of Our Wild Farming Life

'Chris Smaje is a powerful, humane and practical thinker on our relationship to land and farming, and this book offers a convincing rejection of the 'ecomodern' theology currently being promoted by many prominent environmentalists. In a time of division, Smaje offers a human-scale and heartening alternative to elite green technocracy.' Paul Kingsnorth, author of Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

'An eloquent and articulate defense of agroecological, small-scale farming and a robust critique of an industrialized future, Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future: The Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods by Chris Smaje is critically important reading for anyone with an interest in learning about the difference between a congenial, ecological living and a dystopian, factory-centered existence. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Sustainable Agriculture collections and supplemental Environmental Economics curriculum studies lists.' Midwest Book Review