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Local Organic Farming: A Sustainable Alternative To Industrial Agriculture

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posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:03 AM
How can the Government Help?

As was shown the government currently engages in dumping billions of dollars into industrial agriculture in the form of subsidies. If the government decided to embrace the virtues inherent to the local organic system and began to reduce the amount of money spent on subsidizing industrial production methods many small scale, locally based form operations could benefit from the government's interest in maintaining an efficient food production system. Beyond merely maintaining the production system, government funding for locally based food programs could also have serious benefits book ecologically and socially. Indeed the greatest obstacle to building strong, independent locally based organic food production systems is the expense of operations.


The end result of my practical and scholastic study of agricultural production, which focused on the problems of our current industrial model and the solutions and benefits inherent to a local organic system, is an affirmation of my belief that local organic farming is indeed a much needed sustainable alternative to its industrial counterpart. This study clearly defined the negative impacts of industrialized agriculture upon the three confounding factors of agricultural production—society, ecology, and economics; as well as, thoroughly outlined the benefits of a local organic system upon the same three confounding factors. The industrial system is founded upon the economic principle of specialization according to comparative advantage. This specialized system manufactures and perpetuates a system which methodically degrades rural communities and simultaneously fuels the corporate consolidation of agriculture. This system is perpetuated with the unfailing support of leaders in government and academia. Issues, such as rural impoverishment, as well as ecological and social degradation are seen as no more than the price that must be paid in a utilitarian effort to feed the world’s “burgeoning” population. They also hold to the belief that the wealth generated by an industrial economy will fuel the ingenuity needed to want to the damage we have done.

Despite these proponents belief in the abilities of wealth and ingenuity to solve the most pressing issues of our time, industrialized agriculture has inadvertently begun to define the limits to which we may be able to invent solutions for, or pay to rebuild, that which our actions have destroyed. Because of the far-reaching implications of the impacts of the industrial system, as well as the simultaneous transmutation of our culture, many of the symptoms produced by this system are incredibly difficult to alleviate individually. As was shown in the industrial section all of its negative impacts stem directly from the adoption of specialized production. This first, begins with specialization intended to produce enormous national wealth; then second, in how specializing to produce wealth drastically narrows the crop base; followed by third, with the rise of mechanization as an efficient replacement for human labor; and fourth, how the specialized--monocultural crops are incompatible with natural ecological systems, drastically altering their biological makeup; and then fifth, in how this biological alteration increases agricultural dependency on energy inputs in the form of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, water for irrigation, and fossil fuels for power. This creates a high yield high cost system in which only large agro-corporations can afford to produce; a reality that has led to the creation of an agro-industrial-complex and the ruin of our rural communities.

The creation of the agro-industrial-complex itself has led to many other negative impacts, beyond the economic, which stem indirectly from industrialized agriculture. The most pressing social impacts are undoubtedly the dislocation of farmers who used to comprise approximately 60% of our population and the destruction of rural communities. As the farmers are displaced the foundation of rural communities disappears. At the heart of these disappearing rural communities was the independence and sustainability offered by traditional, diversified agricultural production. Beyond merely losing a bastion of democratic virtue and ecological sustainability, humanity has lost a direct connection to the most vital element of life itself—food.

Food forms the base of proper health and nutrition. When the industrial agricultural system was adopted our traditional foods were replaced by the processed foods that are made from the world's specialized, commodity crops. Because processed foods now account for approximately 95% of all the food sold in grocery stores today most modern citizens consume less and less fresh foods. This is also a result of the corporate consolidation of the agricultural market. Because of the enormous yields produced under a specialized régime the creation of food processing and transportation industrial middleman became necessary for a producing and distributing edible foods. The social impacts of this trend are clear and can first be seen in the veracious spread of obesity in our country. Beyond this scientists have even begun to identify what they call “environmentally mediated intellectual declined”; where they are able to track the decline in the intelligence of the human race as a result of poor nutrition. The entire scope of issues surrounding industrialized production is un-imaginable. What is completely clear is that it is an entirely unsustainable mode of production; which can be seen in the enormous impacts it has had in only the last 50 years.

Local organic agriculture is presented in this study as a highly adaptive and sustainable alternative to the industrialized system. In comparison to the industrial system, local organic farming focuses upon achieving a harmonious balance between itself and the natural world rather than upon production and profits and in this becomes ecologically focused over economically focused. This ecological focused leads to diversified, polycultural production and because the industrial system focus is mainly upon the specialization of production adopting a system of diversified production systematically dismantles the agro-industrial-complex.

Again, polycultural production is an attempt on the part of local organic farming to balance its actions with its host natural systems. The most fundamental result of this is the maintenance of soil quality including the preservation of the natural biotic communities. This simple task is the first stop in dismantling the agro-industrial-complex. Simply by maintaining the quality of soil and its biotic communities through the use of diversified production reduces, if not eliminates, farmers dependence upon fertilizers and pesticides. This reduction in the use of these chemicals is the first major step towards balancing agriculture with nature. Beyond directly maintaining ecological conditions on the farm local organic agriculture also acts directly to solve the other ecological problems presented by the industrial system. It is an opportunity to reduce or replace the presently required amounts of processing and transportation which also lead to environmental degradation.

In addition to addressing the ecological consequences of industrialized production local organic agriculture can also serve to eliminate the impacts industrial agriculture has on society. The most pressing impact the industrial system has on society is the displacement of rural farmers and the deterioration of rural community's. A local organic system is intended to re-place farmers upon the land to rebuild the foundation of rural communities. As more and more localized, organic farms appear rural communities will be able to begin building strong and sustainable local communities. The production of a diversity of crops serves not only to feed community members but also creates an opportunity to start reinventing local culture.

Because the products that these organic farms would be producing for exchange are largely fresh foods this is also a major step towards curbing many of the health issues surrounding the over-consumption of processed foods. As was shown in this study, even government agencies such as CDC and the USDA currently have health programs actively working towards educating and encouraging citizens to consume more fresh foods in another attempt to address the symptoms of our industrial agriculture dis-ease.

Finally, local organic agriculture also has the potential to fuel the growth of sustainable community level economies. In conjunction with the creation of independent sustainable local communities local organic farming can also build local market economies. As localized organic farming spreads, with each farm producing a diversity of products for distribution, suddenly communities are presented with the possibility of protein local markets based upon the distribution of these locally produced foods. House was shown in this study such localized food systems have been developing and the fringes of society and can be seen in institutions such as farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs. Organizations were small-scale farmers produced for local community members who either pay up front for a share of the harvest or for local consumers who shop at local farms stands.


When comparing these two agricultural systems it quickly becomes apparent that localized organic agricultural production systems are indeed more highly adaptable and sustainable than their industrial counterparts. The utilitarian arguments used to support the industrialized system, specifically that increased efficiency and productivity is absolutely necessary to feed the exponentially growing world population.

[edit on 30-7-2009 by Animal]

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:05 AM
However, this study revealed that the efficiency claimed by the industrial system is in fact in a myth. Because of the wide variety of negative externalities that are not incorporated into the accounting of the industrial systems efficiency, what appears to be efficient is not. As John P. Reganold and his associates stated in their article “Sustainability of Three Apple Production Systems” in the Journal nature “our results show that organic and integrated apple production systems and Washington state are not only better for soil and the environment than their conventional counterpart but have comparable yields and, for the organic system, higher profits and greater energy efficiency. Although crop yield and quality are important products of a farming system, the benefits of better soil and environmental quality provided by the organic and integrated production systems are equally valuable and usually overlooked in the marketplace” (Nature, 982-989). This article is only one example of an ever-growing list of research in the fields of sociology, economics, ecology, and anthropology which all point to the overwhelming flaws inherent in the industrial system.

Because the ecological, social, and cultural damage done by the industrialized modern world is quickly becoming an imminent threat to life itself the time has come that humanity begins to make fundamental changes to all of our actions. To impede the coming ecological disaster, indeed to avert it, we must begin to build new social and cultural systems when in which we may adapt to the natural systems which comprise our environment. This is essentially designing or cultural and social systems to be in harmony with nature; embracing the philosophy of Sim Van Der Ryn and Stewart Cowan. As they stated themselves “designing with nature is a strategy for successfully reducing harmful impacts by attending to the preconditions of health for each level. This philosophy of design represents more than a shift in language and epistemology: it is a shift in the way things are made and the way landscapes are used” (Ryn, Cowan 1996, 104). Local organic agriculture is an excellent tool not only for supplying fresh, local, healthy food but also as a foundation for creating local cultures that are built upon the ethics of care and stewardship. Because the vast majority of the negative impacts humans have on the planet are all a result of our various cultural machinations the only way to directly solve these problems is by redefining or cultural worldview.

And In the end it is my firm belief that industrial agriculture is easily proven to be economically, ecologically, and socially unsustainable. The continued practice of industrial agriculture will undoubtedly lead to the all out destruction of natural habitats, including those we use in agricultural production, leading to catastrophic effects on human and wild life. Local organic agriculture as an overriding production system offers hope for a sustainable future. Although this production system is not capable of producing the massive economic wealth as is its industrialized counterpart it is entirely capable of producing healthy, as well as environmentally and socially sound food in a sustainable fashion. Although today move it may be hard to believe to that will all organic agriculture will ever be adopted in as the predominant system of production, it is my belief, that because humans are rapidly outpacing the Earth's ability to keep up with our consumption of resources and production of wastes, eventually who we will either see the error of our ways or be forced by Mother Earth to adopt practices that are in-line with her ecological laws.

[edit on 30-7-2009 by Animal]

[edit on 30-7-2009 by Animal]

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:19 AM
I saw this thread pop up, and started reading it as you were posting it. I also shot you over a U2U regarding my studies, and I have more to add. I look forward to talking with you soon.

This research and essay is well put together, organized, detailed, skillfully written, and extremely accurate. It's excellent work, Animal. You've explained the history of the farming industry and it's modern transformation, and now the movement to support a more acceptable and safe system.

The soil studies and processed food studies that you cited are very interesting, and doubly important. If we made the move away from what we thought was inexpensive and better in the long run (chemicals) to what we now know as the right way, things would be much better for future generations.

Your OP is long, but well worth the read, and very informative. I hope it does not sink to the bottom of the Swamp of Ignored Critical Threads.

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:22 AM

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[edit on 30-7-2009 by Animal]

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:30 AM
I'll take a look at this when I have time...I skimmed through it and agree with most of what I saw. I've been interested in sustainable communities. Not like the UN sustainable communities would have it but more on the local scale.

A city near me Raleigh, NC actually is attempting your ideas. They are aiming to have a fully self supported organic farms community that business uses and grocery stores sell. That is the kind of town you want to be in if SHTF as all food is grown locally, and there would be a ton of food in comparison to other areas if it ever got bad.

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 12:59 AM
lost you on your 2nd post. Sorry. If you want to post a book the do it in a link and give an executive summary here .

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 01:14 AM
reply to post by ravenshadow13

thanks raven! i appreciate your kind words. i have been collecting information on agriculture for many years as it is a topic i have a passion for.

i personally believe there is not a more fundamental connection between humans and nature than our food.

thus for me the topic of agriculture is a vital starting point for working towards recreating a balanced harmonic between the built human and natural environments.

glad you liked it. and again, thanks.

[edit on 30-7-2009 by Animal]

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 01:16 AM

Originally posted by awakentired
lost you on your 2nd post. Sorry. If you want to post a book the do it in a link and give an executive summary here .

this is not a book. this is a paper i have been working on. all i can say is 'your loss', i know it is long, but worth at least 'skimming'.

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 01:17 AM
didn't even read the first sentence because I grew up on a dairy farm for 11 years. I do agree that there needs to me 'some' monitoring of INDUSTRIAL grown foods, for the simple fact's industrial.

However, after just visiting my brother back on the farm last week, I came across some intresting conversation.

Standing around the neighbor's truck and we're talking about my brothers calves coming from the auction and how we were desperately trying to keep them from the scours (diarrhea) and ammonia.

The neighbor said 'well, they gotta be better than the organic farm calves"

My brother .."For sure, the neighbor across the mill won't even take them, and they've been raising them for decades"

Curiously I said " what's the big deal about 'organic' farm calves not being good; I mean, being organic shouldn't they be better than the 'naturally raised' calves? ( I have to laugh at the naturally because there's not much difference btwn 'organic and natural grown animals IMO)

However, my brother looks at me and says.."no, you don't understand. In order to have organically grown calves you can't give them ANY medicine, no shots to assist them out of ammonia, etc. No metal fence posts in the ground and the list goes on. Thus, 90% of the calves that are coming off the organic farms have a only a 10% survivability or less after reaching the auction."

I was shocked!

Interestingly enough I did a quick search to check out just exactally how many rules and regs the good old EPA had to say about such a matter and BAM! here you go.....

and in particular using the URL above....

Livestock standards
These standards apply to animals used for meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products represented as organically produced. The livestock standards say that:

>Animals for slaughter must be raised under organic management from the last third of gestation, or no later than the second day of life for poultry.

> Producers are required to feed livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements.

> Producers may convert an entire, distinct dairy herd to organic production by providing 80 percent organically produced feed for 9 months, followed by 3 months of 100 percent organically produced feed.

> Organically raised animals may not be given hormones to promote growth, or antibiotics for any reason.

> Preventive management practices, including the use of vaccines, will be used to keep animals healthy.

> Producers are prohibited from withholding treatment from a sick or injured animal; however, animals treated with a prohibited medication may not be sold as organic.

> All organically raised animals must have access to the outdoors, including access to pasture for ruminants. They may be temporarily confined only for reasons of health, safety, the animal's stage of production, or to protect soil or water quality.

and everyone wonders why organically grown foods and meat cost so much. what's REALLY intresting is...after we give the shots to the calves and the medicine to help them become healthy.. while they are still less than a year old, we don't give them any more medicine after that because 99% of the time, they will survive and remain healthy till slaughter or old age.

Here's something else that's intresting....I ate eggs, meat and drank RAW milk for 11 years.. I'm still healthy as a horse.

Great research however, I suggest go work on a livestock farm for a month and get some great insight to balance out your findings.

posted on Jul, 30 2009 @ 01:23 AM
reply to post by Komodo

yes, the information you have provided is to the best of my knowledge BUT it overlooks KEY points.

Industrialized agriculture growth of live stock is a perfect example of a completely unsustainable system of production.

of course hundreds or thousands of animals cramped together with barely any space, if any at all, to move even a little will lead to illness pandemics that require the antibiotics.

industrialized production of animals products absolutely requires medicines and a host of other 'cures' to keep the animals alive and productive.

my argument here is that moving away from this system to a LOCAL system will alleviate such issues and promote local vibrancy and vitality.

posted on Aug, 1 2009 @ 03:40 PM

Originally posted by Komodo
Great research however, I suggest go work on a livestock farm for a month and get some great insight to balance out your findings.

Actually I began this research after spending a summer working on a local organic farm that sold its produce at both the local farmers market as well as a CSA.

Whats more, I grew up in a family that were farmers up to my grandparents generation and in southern Minnesota with many friends who are farmers.

Finally, i firmly believe that modern livestock production is the pinnacle of unsustainable production.

posted on Aug, 1 2009 @ 03:57 PM
Veeery loong post!
So i will have to read later,but i'll take a guess of the premise.I still think industrial production is the way forward to feed so many mouths in the world.I think local growing should also be a part of that as it might actually build *communities* again and have a large impact on our society as a whole which has been declining at rapid rates for decades now in the western world.I still think mass production via science is the future.Not perverted science that is used for nefarious money making motives but to actually help mankind.One of them is large scale meat production via grown in the lab which would completely erradicate all the negatives associated with industrialized livestock farming methods.And if it is deemed nutritious,safe and tasty on good sound science and not the $$ it would help the environment tremendously. Anyway i have not read it yet so i will need to get back to the thread later and make sure my post actually had something to do with your thread or points you made

[edit on 1-8-2009 by Solomons]

posted on Aug, 1 2009 @ 04:42 PM
reply to post by Solomons

I would recommend looking at this study printed in Nature in 2001.

our results show that organic and integrated apple production systems and Washington state are not only better for soil and the environment than their conventional counterpart but have comparable yields and, for the organic system, higher profits and greater energy efficiency. Although crop yield and quality are important products of a farming system, the benefits of better soil and environmental quality provided by the organic and integrated production systems are equally valuable and usually overlooked in the marketplace” (Nature, 982-989).

It presents evidence for the capacity for organic farming to easily compete with industrialized agriculture.

Furthermore, as I present in my posting, agriculture use to be the #1 form of employment in the USA. Today as industrialization has taken over production 'Farmer' no longer even appears on the US Census as a form of employment. Meaning not only can local organic agriculture compete with the industrialized system, it is a better system socially and environmentally.

My regards.

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 04:26 PM
This sounds like the perfect answer to Codex Alimentarius and is as well organized and well written. Perhaps you should submit it to the UN.
Just kidding, we all know how seriously they would take it.

I am serious though about the well written part. Good paper, friend.

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 04:39 PM
Also, I'd like to know what you think about the new Food Enhancement Act that has passed the House and is on it's way to the Senate to be made into law. I do think I know how you will respond, but I wonder if it's already too late to do the things outlined in your report if we (the U.S.) have already committed to do otherwise.

Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) to implement Codex Alimentarius?

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 04:01 PM
reply to post by Iamonlyhuman

i am very concerned about this new bill and its counter part. i am currently reading through it and taking notes and will comment soon.

while i have seen some language that concerns me i have yet to discover an outright attack on organic / local / personal agriculture and food production.

this of course does not mean that it is yet to be discovered or buried to deep in terminology that is beyond me.

as a huge fan of vandana shiva i would not be surprised to see such a move taken by the (OUR!) government on behalf of their corporate masters.

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