Thursday, November 21, 2013

Post Industrial Agriculture - Balance

                To continue with the theme of Post Industrial Agriculture, a main part of this “new” manner of farming is balance. As I have asserted on numerous occasions, nature loves balance. But what does “balance” mean in regard to agriculture?
                Life on planet earth is a symbiotic process. As one species of life is food for another species, so too, that species is food for another. To take an example, lettuce is food for groundhogs… No, no, that is a bad example… How about… Grass is food for rabbits, which in turn are food for, say, foxes. When the foxes eventually die, they become food for carrion devouring creatures, and at some point, organisms in the soil that decompose the deceased, which in turn becomes fertilizer for the soil, which feeds the grass. For certain, that is a simplistic description of what is ultimately an incredibly complex process. There are many, many, many life forms involved in the process, countless bacteria, fungi and microscopic organisms, each of which plays a vital part in… life. This is what I mean by “balance”. In order for life to sustain itself… healthfully… it requires the process to remain in “balance”.
                Now, humans are a particularly stupid species of creatures on the planet. I guess that might have sounded rather harsh in judgment. I’ll try again. Some human beings are particularly stupid in their approach to the life process… I can’t get away from the term “stupid”… How about “idiotic”, “imbecilic”… Allow me to start this part over…
                For countless generations, human beings were aware of the “balance” required of nature. No issue arose over the process, and life flourished on the planet. Hunting and gathering groups used enough, but did not despoil the landscape, thus allowing other life forms to flourish… and humans to eat on another day. When it came to agriculture, the practices were “organic” in that garden waste was composted and fed back to the garden, thus becoming food for the next season’s crops. Again, there is a lot more involved here, but the point is, up until the last few centuries or so, “balance” in nature was the key to survival.
                Industrial Agriculture treats nature in quite the opposite direction. There are two main components at work here. One is technology, which allows ingenuity to create much faster and larger means by which to produce agriculture. The second is money… which inspires immense greed. Oh, and there is a third. Human audacity/idiocy that believes humans can improve upon nature by changing nature’s processes. There are many aspects involved here, far too many to enumerate and investigate in this entry. Nonetheless, some main aspects are synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, etc. and genetically modified organisms(GMOs). All of these are human creations NOT found in nature that have been forcefully inserted into life processes for the purpose of faster production and ultimately to make large amounts of money.
                It is during this stage of human interaction with the world that nature is forced out of “balance”. Human audacity/idiocy does not admit the possibility that this approach may greatly harm the life processes. Human audacity/idiocy only can “improve” upon nature… which is dead wrong, and why the need to turn the page on industrial agriculture is so imminent. Synthetic fertilizers, chemical killers and GMOs are greatly damaging to the health of humans. Instead of improving human health (as is often claimed), humans in general are a medical nightmare, with epidemic proportions of sicknesses, diseases, cancers, etc. That this is not readily understood, that is, that the human insertion of poisons and GMOs into the life processes of nature is the cause of our unhealthy age, is a perfect example of human audacity/idiocy.
                The vast majority of “food” available is not real food. This system is completely out of balance. Because of the need to make incredible amounts of money fast, the vast cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, etc., has in large part been diminished to a few crops, and two in particular, corn and soy beans. These last two crops make up the great majority of any food you can buy in a box. The corn is NOT the sweet variety you can eat off the cob, and soy beans are not only NOT part of our natural diet, when eaten raw they are actually toxic. Yet, through many chemical processes, these two crops make up a great deal of our diet. This is the cause of many of our current health issues.
                But to keep the focus only on human health is woefully myopic. With the transference of land from natural terrain, i.e. woodlands in the East, prairies in the Midwest, to pre-industrial agriculture, i.e. farms with cattle, pigs, chickens, grain fields and vegetable gardens, to industrial agriculture, i.e. GMO soybean and corn fields, much of the “balance” that used to exist in nature has been changed drastically. Many animals, birds and reptiles, if they still exist, do so in far fewer numbers than in the past. Particularly in industrial agriculture, the processes are directly harmful to the natural “balance”. One quick example is the process of poisoning the ground to kill everything except GMO plants. Millions of microscopic organisms as well as earthworms, etc. are killed during the process, resulting in their symbiosis participation being destroyed. What is lost here? Industrial agriculture will laugh off that question with “absolutely nothing.” A more complex understanding of nature will realize that imbalance will not result in an “improvement” on nature.
                The point here is that through industrial agriculture the “balance” of nature has been greatly distorted. I will present an example of this imbalance as it affects my organic farm. The neighboring farm now grows GMO soy beans. While the spraying of such, etc. of that unnatural crop does not affect my farm directly, the fact that the great majority of crops are either soy bean or corn does. The number of pests of these two crops is astronomical, and when an organic farm attempts to grow another plant in the legume family shared by soy beans, such as green beans, those pests will descend upon the organic plants in voracious fashion. This is one brief example. Again, if the farming practices were not so imbalanced, the pests would not be as much of a problem.
                That is the state of industrial agriculture now. Organic farmers, like me, across the country, and the globe, farm in a “balanced” fashion. Instead of synthetic fertilizers, we feed the soil with rich organic matter, and every year, steadily, the soil health improves. We grow a wide variety of crops to provide much diversity to our diets, realizing that a mixture of fruits and vegetables, etc. is important. We do not use GMOs. And the more years we experience, the more we invest in helping to nurture the “balance”, so that all parts of the life process thrive. It is the witnessing of the improving health of the farm which is absolutely humbling. Given only the ability to act as it pleases, nature thrives when in “balance”.
                Post industrial agriculture will be based on this “balance”. The notion of squeezing every last penny out of nature is a thing of the past. The audacity/idiocy that thinks that nature can be manipulated without harming ourselves or the planet needs to be a thing of the past too. Greed is an expressly human weakness. The future needs to approach the economics of agriculture in a “balanced” way as well. When a few corporations dictate the industrial agriculture model, the great majority of humans suffer. By creating a symbiotic relation between humans in a post industrial agriculture model, ALL will benefit.

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