It is true that sustainable agriculture methods such as permaculture and biodynamic agriculture generally require more physical labor and effort than conventional agricultural methods with their associated use of chemicals and heavy machinery. Therefore, our current conventional agriculture system is more “efficient” in that respect.
Sustainable agriculture by its very nature is restorative and nourishes the soil for the long-term productivity of the land. Healthy soil produces healthy plants that are full of healthy nutrition to create healthy people. No amount of technology or human innovation can ever compensate for bankrupted soil that produces inferior food.
False principles of conventional agriculture
The issue of “feeding the world” is often framed as the capacity to produce enough food to feed everyone on Earth. The best solutions to this dilemma are not really as simple as increasing the production of commodity crops, as is often argued in conventional agricultural circles.
The idea that we are “feeding the world” with our commodity crops isn’t very accurate. What many of these crops are used for is to make things like high fructose corn syrup, other processed food products, or for animal feed that don’t directly go to feed human beings anyway.
Not only that, but due to the continued wrong-headed national policies of certain nations, such as the U.S. that continue to produce genetically-modified foods and try to export them to the rest of the world, the rest of the world is either getting horribly ill from them just like a large portion of the U.S. population is, or many of these other countries are just flat-out refusing these agricultural products because they know that GMO “foods” are ultimately wolves in sheep’s clothing [1,2].
Given that most of the food that is produced through the conventional agricultural system is so nutritionally bankrupt and so filled with poisons, is it even morally right to “feed the world” with “foods” that don’t fulfill our nutritional needs in the first place and make us sick?
First steps to transform our agricultural systems
What “feeding the world” should be redefined as is the meeting of everyone’s nutritional needs on our planet to support optimal human health, while working with nature and not bankrupting the ability of future generations to grow food and to survive on our planet.
We must restore the soil and the environment as we produce our food, and for our own survival, we must use methods that save water and aren’t a source of greenhouse gases.
On the contrary, we can use sustainable agriculture methods such as sustainably managed livestock grazing, permaculture, and biodynamic agriculture to switch from being an overall carbon source to being an overall carbon sink and store carbon in the soil instead of putting it into the atmosphere, as well as employing farming methods that conserve water.
This means that every single family can produce or is able to obtain locally everything that it needs to feed all family members and to be healthy without relying on international imports or a centralized power structure.
Such a ground-up and sustainable approach means growing food in a manner that restores the land and allows people to continue to grow food for themselves and to not bankrupt the soil fertility for the future.
It means helping people to learn how grow food in degraded lands through restorative agricultural methods such as permaculture. It also means growing food in ways that are much less resource-intensive and export no waste that will need to be dealt with by others outside the system.
While there has been great productivity associated with producing crops over the last half a century or so using conventional agricultural methods, we are currently hitting our limitations with such methods.
There are many issues associated with this form of agriculture, including:
- Health problems from agricultural chemicals and genetically modified foods;
- Environmental pollution;
- A bankrupting of natural soil fertility;
- A loss of power of the people to control their own food supply;
- The large amounts of resources that are required to produce and transport food that cannot be sustained into the future.
This begs the question whether conventional agricultural will be able to meet our global human nutritional needs for the foreseeable future.
Some would argue that it is already failing to do so, and such a system is poisoning ourselves and our environment in the process.
With global climate change already here and many natural limitations being reached, humanity will be forced to reevaluate the ways that we produce our food into the future in ways that are much less resource-intensive, are community-focused and localized, and respect the limits of nature.