Yesterday, two of the sustainable food movements great leaders, Wes Jackson, plant geneticist and president of the Land Institute, and farmer/writer Wendell Berry opined on their growing concern for the havoc we are wreaking on our soil.
They talked about the long term damage of even normal rainfall, “by the little rills and sheets of erosion on incompletely covered or denuded cropland” — should there not be practices in place to consciously rebuild the soil — and went on to state outright the other great threat, “degradations resulting from industrial procedures and technologies alien to both agriculture and nature.”
Those alien technologies and procedures? Our current industrial agriculture system, which promotes a one-crop-at-a-time policy, and ignores the lessons learned over 10,000 years of agricultural practices (inter-cropping, small-scale farming using minimal oil inputs), instead promoting the discoveries from agribusiness-funded labs over the last half-century.
Most chillingly, Berry and Jackson reminded us that “Civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland.” For further reading, see Jerad Diamond’s best-seller Collapse.
But they didn’t stop there. The authors throw the gantlet down on the theory and values behind our economy over the last 50-60 years, when “we have let ourselves believe that as long as we have money we will have food.” They go on:
“If we continue our offenses against the land and the labor by which we are fed, the food supply will decline, and we will have a problem far more complex than the failure of our paper economy. The government will bring forth no food by providing hundreds of billons of dollars to the agribusiness corporations.”
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