In 2050 there will be 9.7 billion people on earth. In order to feed them, the global food system will need to produce 70 per cent more calories than it currently does and must do so in a way that is equitable, nutritious, ecologically sustainable and carbon negative. Yet agriculture is already responsible for a third of total greenhouse gas emissions. How will this work?
Agriculture has always terraformed but it is not only landscapes and food that are produced. Crop rotation, annual harvests and cattle domestication gave the world writing, taxation and urban settlement but they also gave us a semiotics of agrarian simplicity and limitless nature that is the veil behind which geochemical meltdown is disguised.
Born from the tradition of farmer’s almanacs that reaches back as far as ancient Mesopotamia, Black Almanac embraces artificiality and the chemical-materialist potential of food as a locus for planetary transformation. Named for the fertile soil of the Nile River Delta, from which systematic agriculture and the words “alchemy” and “chemistry” descend, Black Almanac is a plan for 2050 that plots 31 fundamental steps – from infrastructure to institutions, one per growing season – to construct a viable food system by the autumn of that year.
By eating we translate the planet and the planet in turn translates us. Black Almanac’s goal is not merely the piecemeal replacement of outmoded tools, malfunctioning chemopolitics and a reactionary food culture. It is the production of a new earth.