For the last several years, Eric Toensmeier and I have been working (ever so slowly) on a scientific review of global perennial staple crops. Last year we received an invitation to present our work at the annual American Society of Agronomy conference, in a session that was otherwise composed of perennial grains researchers. This was an exciting opportunity (as well as a deadline to light a fire under our slow progress). Eric and I decided that he would attend and present. He had never had a chance to present at a scientific conference – and more importantly, he has done the vast bulk of the work feeding into this project. He’s been painstakingly combing through scientific and technical literature over the past five years, and assembling a formidable database of 100s of perennial crops. My role in the project has been to help frame that tremendous work in terms of contemporary scientific frameworks, act as an interpreter and foil for Eric in crafting language for a scientific audience, and more recently, to generate visualizations of the data. It’s an ongoing honor and pleasure to work with him on this project.
Eric was unable to attend the conference due to health issues, but happily the organizers were happy to have him submit a screencast of his presentation. It’s about 17 minutes long, and represents the very beginning of much greater things. It serves as a teaser for what will be just one section of his forthcoming book (due out next year) – which I believe will radically reshape the global conversation about agriculture and climate change. Enjoy!