Bread Oriented Stuff (but not entirely)
Dick Thompson stands on the edge of the concrete manure pit he built in his field, a high point here in the middle of Iowa, and gestures toward the piles. Against the far wall is a contribution from the nearby town of Boone — human bio solids that Thompson uses as fertilizer along with the manure he collects from his own hogs and cattle, some still steaming in the cold November air. “What comes from the land,” he says with a glint in his eye, “should be returned to the land.
Squatting at the heart of last week’s summit, poisoning all negotiations, is a vast, wobbling lump of pork fat called the common agricultural policy.
Smart op-ed in WSJ. America is sending over huge amounts of alfalfa to China. Alfalfa is a VERY water-intensive crop. China uses it to feed their cattle which produce beef and dairy products. Point of the article: why not send beef and dairy to China instead and reap the better profit margin for our valuable water? That’s how New Zealand does it. Its highest-value export is powdered milk, notes the authors of the piece. The culprit? America’s antiquated and byzantine water-regulation practices - especially in the West.
Not that smart, probably.
In short, we need more real farmers, not businessmen riding on half-million-dollar combines. And if you haven’t seen a real farmer, go visit a one- or two-acre intensive garden; it’s a mind-blowing thing, how much can be grown in a relatively small space. Then imagine thousands of 10-, 20- and 100-acre farms planted similarly: the vegetables sold regionally, the pigs fed from scraps, the compost fertilizing the soil, the cattle at pasture, the milk making cheese ….
The naysayers will yell, “this mode of farming will not produce enough corn and soy to feed our junk food and cheeseburger habit,” and that’s exactly the point. It would produce enough food so that we can all eat well. It’d produce enough food so we can slow the hysteria about our inability to feed the expected 9 billion earthlings. After all, we’re not doing such a great job of feeding the current 7 billion. Why? Largely because too many resources go into producing junk food and animal products.
We are in an era when gardens are front and center for hopes and dreams of a better world or just a better neighborhood, or the fertile space where the two become one. There are farm advocates and food activists, progressive farmers and gardeners, and maybe most particular to this moment, there’s a lot of urban agriculture. These city projects hope to overcome the alienation of food, of labor, of embodiment, of land, the conflicts between production and consumption, between pleasure and work, the destructiveness of industrial agriculture, the growing problems of global food scarcity, seed loss. The list of ideals being planted and tended and sometimes harvested is endless, but the question is simple. What crops are you tending? What do you hope to grow? Hope? Community? Health? Pleasure? Justice? Gardens represent the idealism of this moment and its principal pitfall, I think. A garden can be, after all, either the ground you stand on to take on the world or how you retreat from it, and the difference is not always obvious.