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What the organic, locally grown, slow food movement means when applied to a continent.

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posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 01:50 PM
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This is an older article, but I think it makes a wonder case study of what our food supply would look like if modern agricultural techniques, and god forbid modern agribusiness, were abandoned to the Michael Pollans of the world.

Africa's organic farms



Approach any serious-looking college student in the Boston area, where I teach, and ask them what kind of food and farming system they would like to see. Most will say they don't want food from factory farms with a large carbon footprint. They want foods locally grown on small family farms. They don't want crops grown using synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides; they want crops grown "organically." They want farm animals to be able to range freely. They want "slow" food rather than fast food. And they don't want "Frankenfoods" - crops developed through genetically engineering.

What might such an idealized food system actually look like? Take a trip to Africa. The small farmers who populate the continent's impoverished countryside are living out something close to this post-materialist fantasy. Two-thirds of all Africans depend on farming or animal grazing for their food and income, and nearly all of their operations are small-scale.

Eighty percent of the labor on these farms is done by women and children, in part because it provides so little income for working-age men. There is no power machinery (only two tractors for every thousand agricultural workers) and only 4 percent of crops are irrigated. More than two thirds of all cropland is still planted with traditional crop varieties rather than with scientifically improved varieties. The animals - mostly cattle and goats - forage for their own food.

Agribusiness firms are nowhere to be seen, and chemical fertilizer applications per hectare are less than one-tenth the industrial world average. Insecticides and herbicides are not affordable, so crops suffer pest damage, and the weeding is done by children who would be better off in school. Nobody grows genetically engineered crops because governments in Africa - following Europe's lead - have not approved such crops for use.

Nearly all of Africa's farms are thus de facto "organic." Poor and non-productive, but organic.


I think the romantic notion of “organic living” meets the cold hard reality of scarcity and starvation when one looks at the state of the African continent.




posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 01:54 PM
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Hey but at least it's better than eating cancer infested foods brought you by Monsanto



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 01:58 PM
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Africa hasn't in modern times been very blessed with a climate that is good for growing.

When I look at people in Cali that are growing 10 tons of food on 2 acres I believe its fully possible to eat and drink our fill without Monsanto...

-Lightrule



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:09 PM
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Originally posted by starwarsisreal
Hey but at least it's better than eating cancer infested foods brought you by Monsanto


Yes, starvation, hunger and chronic malnutrition are better fates than have a lifetime cancer rate increase from 1 in 3 to 1 in 2.99987.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:24 PM
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I totally disagree that we would revert to being Africa.

However you are right that such a system would never work in today's reality. For any such system to work people would have to dedicate a significant amount of time to agriculture and use it for their own consumption. Which is not likely to happen. Well, that is unless some highly efficient and highly automated method is mass producible. This would also completely change the cityscape though and likely for the better.

This sort of lifestyle also requires a more tightly bound community which is totally lacking in many parts of America.

PS. I think your avatar is very clever. Haha
edit on 10-8-2011 by MasterGemini because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:24 PM
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reply to post by SirMike
 


Maybe you should tell that to the Indians

www.organicconsumers.org...



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:25 PM
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They have made it work in Cuba, and it worked for a long time in the U.S., arguably with more success before big ag began taking over.

If anything, U.S. corporations are turning our farming industry into something that resembles communist USSR, were the people working the land don't actually own it. Just further proof of my argument that free market economics is communism under a different name.

www.twnside.org.sg...


Cuba’s organic revolution

The US trade embargo of Cuba, plus the collapse of the island’s Soviet market, has meant that the country has found it virtually impossible to import the chemicals and machinery necessary to practise modern, intensive agriculture. Instead, it has turned to farming much of its land organically - with results that overturn the myths about the ‘inefficiency’ of organic farming.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:26 PM
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Originally posted by starwarsisreal
reply to post by SirMike
 


Maybe you should tell that to the Indians

www.organicconsumers.org...


Because they are eating cotton ... right?



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:27 PM
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you can improve on what is practiced now in africa.

i have a little garden i started digging out of pure clay soil. ok, it took nearly 3 years to improve the soil - it is nearly good now - but then again i did not put any special effort into it at all. my garden is only about 1.5 m wide and 4 m long and it produces more salads and herbs than i can eat. i will start now with the introduction of raised beds for root vegetables, so it will not attract rabbits and also gramma will be able to weed. i'm sure i could feed a family easily. there is always exchange with the neighbours working on different crops.

we would learn fast.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:33 PM
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reply to post by lucia2389
 


No, we would starve fast.

I garden too, a 60' x 15' plot and while I get lots of greens from it, you need a minimum of one acre of calorie intense crops (think potatoes) to sustain one person for one year.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:38 PM
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reply to post by SirMike
 


potatoes grow very easy. i've seen people growing them without soil in mulch alone. i have two tyres i filled with a bit of soil and lots of mulch, used organic potatoe peels and it looks more than promising .



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 02:41 PM
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reply to post by SirMike
 


seriously you can't see past the propaganda?? Honestly this guy tries AFRICA as an example of failed small farm organic food?

My family has had a personal garden for years growing low maintence and highly desireable items such as squash, zuchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, etc...

now why isn't he deciding to discuss organically grown small farms on a more fertile land? Probably because it doesn't illistrate his agenda very well...

this article implies nonsense all throughout...implying that without crap like "machinery" your wife and child will be out slaving away
because you can't make a $$??? How about in REALITY most people who grow their own organic small farm/garden arent trying to make $$ they are feeding their family...

Because Africa is failing is absolutely NOT by any streatch of the imagination an indication of how organic small farms are doomed for failure...

I hope everyone here can see through this garbage being posted and realize that empires such as Egypt, Rome...etc with achievements we still cant comprehend did so on predominantly ORGANIC foods with low tech non-mechanical industrial means...

whoever wrote that crap must have significant investements in pestacides, GMO, industrial farming or John Deer while working for Monsanto....

crap crap crap...



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 03:20 PM
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Originally posted by Sly1one
reply to post by SirMike
 
seriously you can't see past the propaganda?? Honestly this guy tries AFRICA as an example of failed small farm organic food?


In what way isn’t African agriculre, with the exception of some nations, not an example of organic agriculture? They use compost to fertilize, they don’t use herbicides or pesticides and there is little if any mechanization.


My family has had a personal garden for years growing low maintence and highly desireable items such as squash, zuchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, etc...


And you grow 100% of the food you eat? Its likely the garden is purely supplemental and provides maybe 1 in every 10 calories your family eats.


now why isn't he deciding to discuss organically grown small farms on a more fertile land? Probably because it doesn't illistrate his agenda very well...


Cultivated land, regardless of how fertile it is, doesn’t stay fertile very long without fertilizers and suppliments.


this article implies nonsense all throughout...implying that without crap like "machinery" your wife and child will be out slaving away because you can't make a $$??? How about in REALITY most people who grow their own organic small farm/garden arent trying to make $$ they are feeding their family...


Have you ever seen life on a subsistence farm? Farmers have lots of children because of the work load and without tractors and machinery, the work load is horrendous. Even modern farms are very busy places.


Because Africa is failing is absolutely NOT by any streatch of the imagination an indication of how organic small farms are doomed for failure...


Not doomed to fail, but supplanting most modern agricultural practices will most certainly lead to malnutrition, hunger and starvation.


I hope everyone here can see through this garbage being posted and realize that empires such as Egypt, Rome...etc with achievements we still cant comprehend did so on predominantly ORGANIC foods with low tech non-mechanical industrial means...


With one tenth the population and proportionally smaller crop yields. Oh yeah, and then there were the famines and blights.


whoever wrote that crap must have significant investements in pestacides, GMO, industrial farming or John Deer while working for Monsanto....


Or, they just may have a better understanding of the entirety of the situation, but that thought never occurred to you.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 03:20 PM
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Study these two maps. They tell quite a story when you pool all the data provided. Sadly it's a story of people suffering and dying for rich people's interests. As usual.




SOURCE



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 03:43 PM
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reply to post by SirMike
 


great rebuttles but you failed to adress the obvious fearmongering towards "organic foods" and "small farming", this is unacceptable. Our fear of "starvation" because of very clever propagandists like this fellow will lead us into one giant mess of food and nutrition dependence that will make people's dependence on "wall-mart" look like small potatoes.

When there is a realization that the world cannot "sustain" something its time to DOWNSIZE, trim the fat eliminate unecessarys, suck it up and accept less indefinately...

This "problem" will be solved with our without human decision. We keep it up and the hand of nature will cull the population to appropriate size/ratio of "food" whether we like it or not. All the "production/industrialization genetic modification in the world will not prevent the inevitable correction nature will be forced to make to maintain "planetary homeostasis".

OR we can eliminate the possibility of world wide famine by rejecting industrial overgrowth cancerous habbits and adopt smaller scale less luxurious self suficient independent lifestyles that's focus isn't "consumption but balance...eat less. Country Buffet and The Golden Corral should NOT be the "standard" of living accepted if we want to avoid absolutely NOTHING in the end...

I guess ultimately what Im saying is that Industrial Farms, GMO, Pesticides and artificial fertilization should NOT HAVE to be the answer because IF that were true...we are screwed anyways and it doesn't matter what anyone thinks.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 03:54 PM
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Such crap. Africa is poor and starving because of desertification, and because we flooded their markets with cheap subsidized american food, putting all their farmers out of business, so investors could come in and steal all their land cheaply and use it for cash crops. Non mechanized has nothing to do with organic, and monsanto yields are highly exaggerated which is why 150000 indian farmers have committed suicide. I guess from the situation in india we can infer that growing gm crops leads to suicide. Your argument is shallow...as well say that since most of africa is barefoot, and there is lots of malaria there, being barefoot leads to malaria. Watch out beach bums! There are tons of successful organic farmers in the us that make good profit, and they would do even better if big agro would stop bribing congress to pass legislation penalizing true organics, and smirching the organic classification. If organics were not better and better for you, crap brands would not make so much effort to fooling people into thinking their products were organic.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 04:12 PM
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reply to post by Sly1one
 


There is no “fearmongering” towards organic food, only an illustration of the fact that a switch to organic farming, in any real significant manner would bring our food security situation closer to that of Africa. Likewise, our fear of starvation has nothing to do with “propaganda”, starvation, hunger and malnutrition were the norms for the 1000’s of years that proceeded industrial agriculture.

You seem to believe that our present track is entirely unsustainable, I disagree. As long as energy inputs continue, and there is no technical reason they cannot, our present track is entirely sustainable. And I have said this many times before, those of you who feel the need to downsize our society, lead by example.

We are at a point where going back is not an option unless we are willing to watch billions of people starve to death. And quite honestly, no rational people would want to go back to the good old days where the average person spent their entire lives laboring 12 hours a day on a farm. Have you ever farmed before? Not the hobby garden in your yard, but a multi acre farm? Try it for a few years and tell me what its like. As romantic as it seems, there is a reason why millions leave the farm every year to work in urban sweatshops. No matter how bad the sweatshop seems, it beats the farm.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 04:16 PM
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When you have a city with millions of people than need to be feed I do agree that productivities to farming is required. However Monsanto is failing in its environmental and social responsibilities due to its primary focus on the financial responsibilities. This is not the only company with this problem, but due to its size, importance and new technology it has gained an evil reputation. Threatening farmers with copyright violations due to natural cross pollination and polluting organic fields is one clear example of how Monsanto does fail in its social and environmental responsibilities.

The is also a growing body of scientific evidence in just how dangerous GMO is to human health. With plants now producing their own pesticides and other new compounds, these are not tested for safety like drugs are. Monsanto and the industry is taking the stance that it needs to be proven beyond reasonable doubt that it causes harm before pulling a strain instead of proving beyond reasonable doubt that it is safe before introducing into the food chain. Our grandchildren will be sterile with abnormal growths by then as some generational GMO studies have shown.

With international corporate scandals like Asbestos still seeking resolution, GMO is a killer under this high profit and limited liability driven model. Heirloom seeds that have adapted to their specific environment are disappearing and soil is becoming heavily contaminated for any natural strains to grow. In this highly complex field there are a lot of complex issues. I am not seeing the corporate responsibility required to manage this with it blowing up in all of our faces.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 06:02 PM
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Originally posted by SirMike
reply to post by Sly1one
 



You seem to believe that our present track is entirely unsustainable, I disagree. As long as energy inputs continue, and there is no technical reason they cannot, our present track is entirely sustainable.



Sorry, that is complete and utter nonsense.

You bring up some good points and things that need addressing, but your impression that energy inputs will continue at their present level needs reassessment.

You have all heard of peak oil, and this alone is enough to destroy the current system (farm equipment, shipping products around the world, worker commutes and plastics for packaging food products all depend on oil). The cost of food will skyrocket based on oil alone.

Peak phosphorus is less well known and just as big of a problem. We're running out, and things won't be pretty when it gets scarce. Those factory farms that you defend require enormous and unsustainable amounts of fertilizer input.


As complex as the chemistry of life may be, the conditions for the vigorous growth of plants often boil down to three numbers, say, 19-12-5. Those are the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, prominently displayed on every package of fertilizer. In the 20th century the three nutrients enabled agriculture to increase its productivity and the world’s population to grow more than sixfold. But what is their source? We obtain nitrogen from the air, but we must mine phosphorus and potassium. The world has enough potassium to last several centuries. But phosphorus is a different story. Readily available global supplies may start running out by the end of this century. By then our population may have reached a peak that some say is beyond what the planet can sustainably feed.

Moreover, trouble may surface much sooner. As last year’s oil price swings have shown, markets can tighten long before a given resource is anywhere near its end. And reserves of phosphorus are even less evenly distributed than oil’s, raising additional supply concerns. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest producer of phosphorus (after China), at 19 percent of the total, but 65 percent of that amount comes from a single source: pit mines near Tampa, Fla., which may not last more than a few decades. Meanwhile nearly 40 percent of global reserves are controlled by a single country, Morocco, sometimes referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of phosphorus.” Although Morocco is a stable, friendly nation, the imbalance makes phosphorus a geostrategic ticking time bomb.


www.scientificamerican.com...

We are also in a system that wastes 1/3 of its food produced! ONE THIRD!!!

news.discovery.com...

If more people started growing vegetables off their apartment balconies or huge suburban lawns, it would take a HUGE strain off the system and drive the price of food, gas and phosphorus down. All it takes is everyone making little changes to make a big difference.



posted on Aug, 10 2011 @ 06:16 PM
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WHAT B. S.!!!

There is a PEW report that supports the following article.

Also my own experience also supports it. I own over 100 ac of farmland that was sold because it could no longer produce a crop. When the soil survey was done a couple decades a go it had over TWO FEET of the best crop soil in the area, when I bought it it was 99.7% clay per several soil tests.

If you follow the money you will find the Ag Cartel, WTO and the rockefellers behind this propaganda. You can go look up a lot of my posts/thread for supporting data. I am sick of posting it just to have it ignored.


Small Farm Productivity

How many times have we heard that large farms are more productive than small farms, and that we need to consolidate land holdings to take advantage of that greater productivity and efficiency? The actual data shows the opposite -- small farms produce far more per acre or hectare than large farms.

One reason for the low levels of production on large farms is that they tend to be monocultures. The highest yield of a single crop is often obtained by planting it alone on a field. But while that may produce a lot of one crop, it generates nothing else of use to the farmer. In fact, the bare ground between crop rows invites weed infestation. The weeds then invest labor in weeding or money in herbicide.

Large farmers tend to plant monocultures because they are the simplest to manage with heavy machinery. Small farmers, especially in the Third World, are much more likely to plant crop mixtures -- intercropping -- where the empty space between the rows is occupied by other crops. They usually combine or rotate crops and livestock, with manure serving to replenish soil fertility.

Such integrated farming systems produce far more per unit area than do monocultures. Though the yield per unit area of one crop -- corn, for example -- may be lower on a small farm than on a large monoculture farm, the total production per unit area, often composed of more than a dozen crops and various animal products, can be far higher.

This holds true whether we are talking about an industrial country like the United States, or any country in the Third World. Figure 1 shows the relationship between farm size and total production for fifteen countries in the Third World. In all cases, relatively smaller farm sizes are much more productive per unit area -- 200 to 1,000 percent more productive -- than are larger ones. In the United States the smallest farms, those of 27 acres or less, have more than ten times greater dollar output per acre than larger farms.....

www.foodfirst.org...



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