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A Spirituality of Food & Farming with Fred Kirschenmann

ByLuke Burgis
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I journeyed up to the Stone Barn Center for Food & Agriculture with Claire Alsup, Director of Business Development for Yolele Foods, to interview Fred Kirschenmann, the “philosopher farmer” who wrote one of my favorite books on ecology (not that I read a ton of them) and the most interesting title for a theological essay ever: Theological Reflections While Castrating a Calf.

Fred has lived out a fascinating personal vocation. He was born on a North Dakota farm during the Great Depression, in the grips of the worst drought in U.S. history, and has now spent most of his life working to change how we farm, as well as our relationship to the land.

Fred is a thought-leader in sustainable agriculture, a Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy. He also continues to manage his family’s 1,800-acre certified-organic farm in south-central North Dakota.

Fred holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has held numerous appointments, including the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Check out Fred’s TED talk here.

Food and a connection to our common land has played an instrumental role in many of the personal vocations that we’ve explored, and I think it really comes down to this: the Incarnation.

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