Could Farms that Grow Organic Feed the World?
Does organic food have to be trendy, upscale and precious? Does it always have to be about taking your BMW down to Whole Foods for something as unlikely sounding as artisan fromage for money that could essentially feed your family for a whole day?
I once happened to be driving past a farming district near Detroit and I saw this beautifully healthy looking organic farm; not very large it was either – just a couple of acres.
I visit the farm to ask the farmer how much produce he could put out of his land every year – and he said something like 20 tons. That could keep about 50 families in organic heaven for a whole year, couldn’t it?
Why does it then always have to be so expensive and complicated to buy organic? If a small-time farmer like this one can feed 50 families on his little plot of land, what on earth are we doing with industrial farming complexes that pollute the land with tons of fertilizer and huge machines?
There’s actually been a study done called “Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply” that’s followed the problem for years and found that there is no reason why it can’t be done.
It tells us what we always knew – small-time small-town farmers who farm their own land, care about the environmental consequences of what they do can, all put together, feed more people than the disruptive practices of industrial agriculture.
We don’t need genetically engineered crops for large-scale production. We certainly don’t need tons of fertilizer, pesticides and machines to keep the world from going hungry and starving.
To grow organic and to grow it well, we only need the dedication and the clarity that only the small farmer can bring to the table.
If it’s as simple as that, why is it that we’ve all these years come to believe we need the massive organized agricultural system to keep the world fed? Well, apparently all that is just the scaremongering of the good folks over at the industrial farming industry.
For instance, when they refer to organic food in their arguments against it, they try their best not to speak of the sensitive and knowledgeable farming techniques practiced today in this country by small farmers.
They look at the low tech, poor quality farming practices of the Third World and try to point out how without lots of fertilizer and pesticides those uninitiated farmers couldn’t achieve anything.
The organic farming of the Michigan farmer involves a great deal of science, just no chemicals. Farmers like him try to understand the soil, the ecology of the local environment, use help from other plants, natural manure, friendly animals and organisms to keep their soil rich, and their plants pest free.
To grow organic is a scientific endeavour. In the better parts of the world, educated farmers, more than 10 million of them, have been moving away from industrial farming and towards trying to grow organic, and they’ve managed to double output over the last 10 years.
It would be wonderful if we could just hear these and not the scary stories about how the world will starve if we begin to farm the land in natural ways. For instance, if we raised livestock the natural way, we could easily step away from the E. coli epidemic that follows US beef everywhere it goes.
You don’t need higher and higher doses of antibiotics to keep that down – you just need to keep cows out of industrial feedlots.
Thanks to the dangerous use of weedicides and pesticides, we have to deal with super weeds and super pests these days. Farmers in India and the rest of Asia have tried and abandoned industrial practices.
They knew how to give up early – they were poor and couldn’t afford to throw good money after bad as we are doing. Large numbers of farmers are returning to their roots, to grow organic, to be successful again. And there is good hope in that.