The past and future of agriculture

The industrial agriculture model has started to get quite moth-eaten.  Big weaknesses throughout, but the threads that keep it together are funded by big, big, bad corporations.  Lots of investment, lots of control.  And you have to think about it practically, the point was to cultivate as much as one could on a finite piece of land using whatever tricks were necessary to make sure there were high volumes of yield.  Fungicides, herbicides, fertilisers, heavy machinery, pesticides, monoculture, genetic-modification as a solution to the maintenance ‘issues’…  Really is silly at the end of it.  Very, very unnecessary.

So there new movement of change, not so new in the sense that it is knowledge we have lost in the plight to be bigger/better/faster/richer. For example, agro-ecology as a new model for agriculture.  Locally there is a great organisation moving mountains (well, climbing them in fact), promoting and helping societies create the necessary change.  Surplus Peoples Project deserve a lot of recognition for the work they have done.  Check out their Facebook page here.

And so, the biggest issue is the sever manipulation the industrial agricultural model has created, depleting vast areas of land, utilising an absolute kaktail of chemicals which creates agronomic imbalance, and the most obvious issue:  monoculture.  To want to plant only one species over vast areas of space creates many complications.  It’s the perfect breeding ground for fungal blooms, the insects that naturally feed on the plant family now have huge feeding/breeding ground and thus become pests.  Plants that ‘wonder in’ and settle between the crop are really a natural mechanism to cover the soil, for it to repair itself, these ‘weeds’ pulling nutrients up from the soil and depositing them on the surface through abscission.  They’re only ‘weeds’ because they’re not wanted.  Fungal infection is literally a form of population control.  The Great Balance is severely imbalanced in monoculture, as we all know and have seen.

So varieties have been hybridised to cope with mass-planting and all the issues it brings and to cope with post-production (lasting capacity:  storage, transport, waiting on the shelves to be bought and finally waiting in your fridge/pantry to be eaten).  What does this mean?  Essentially greater loss of nutrients and taste.  It’s a shame but it’s the truth.  This article by Natalie Jones explains it better than I do.  Not your grandma’s strawberries indeed!

Image: Lily Mihalik

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Filed under Agriculture, Agro-ecology

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