BY JAMES REBANKS AUGUST 5, 2021 in TIME. Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England.
For much of my early life America meant progress, the bright shining farming future.
I was a kid on an old-fashioned farm in the North of England, and we were way off the pace of change. We had tractors and small machinery, of course, but horse tack still hung from the beams in the barn, gathering dust, and all of my grandfather’s stories were about working horses. Ours was a mixed farm of different animals and crops, the kind of farm that existed everywhere until a few decades ago. It was all crooked little fields, no two looking the same, and every kind of farm animal and crop that would grow on it, all swirling round in a dance of rotation that only my grandfather seemed to understand.
My uncle and auntie farmed dairy cows a few miles away from us on better ground, and they were way more modern and way bigger than we were. A big, by the standards of then, specialised British dairy farm. They would take holidays to America and Canada and come back raving about the size, speed and power of the tractors and the amazing productivity of the dairy cows. They were some of the early importers of North American Holstein genetics—that revolutionised British dairy farming and doubled yields since the 1990s. They also brought back baseball caps and Hersey bars. It all seemed very cool.
NOTE: Sustainable agriculture requires good growing practices but it also may necessitate a community of support. While you may not want to adopt all of the Amish practices (“take what you need and leave the rest”), which practices described here do you think contribute to the sustainability of this farming community?
BROWNINGTON, Vt. — On a darkening December day several years ago, the temperature dropping to 10 degrees, a van with out-of-state tags pulled off I-91 and up beside the Sunoco station near this rural town. The passengers were 10 men carrying the whiff of barns and cattle. Most had bushy, untrimmed beards. All dressed plainly, as their faith demands — coarsely woven dark suits and broad-brimmed straw hats.
These soft-spoken men hailed from Pennsylvania and Ohio. The driver was a hireling, not one of them, in keeping with their refusal to operate motor vehicles.
People go hungry not from lack of food but from lack of political power.
BY FRANCES MOORE LAPPÉ
Today’s multiplying threats are truly scary — a deadly pandemic with vast economic losses, police murders reflecting endemic racism, a president trashing constitutional protections, and . . . oh yes, a pending climate catastrophe.
So fear is inevitable, and, of course, it can ignite action that saves lives. But fear can also do the opposite.Supported By
Fifty years ago, our world was also gripped by fear. Paul Ehrlich’s book “The Population Bomb” predicted “mass starvation” on a “dying planet.” The ensuing scarcity scare triggered a fixation on ever-greater production of food.
Along the way, agribusinesses have warned that only their seeds and agricultural chemicals could save us. “Worrying about starving future generations won’t feed them. Food biotechnology will,” declared a 1998 Monsanto ad.
How we eat causes dangerous climate heating. It’s time to change not only our diet, but the entire global food system.
LONDON, 13 November, 2020 − If the nations of the world really want to limit climate change to the level agreed five years ago, it will not be enough to immediately abandon fossil fuels as the principal source of energy: the global food system demands radical overhaul.
That is because the global food system − everything from clearing land and felling forests for cattle ranches to the arrival of meat and two vegetables on a suburban family dinner plate − accounts for 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And to contain global heating later this century to no more than 1.5°C above the levels that existed before the Industrial Revolution, urgent action is needed.
The ongoing destruction of the globe’s rainforests has been brought into devastating focus by the Amazonian blazes. One of the chief mainstream responses has been: “Stop eating meat.”
On the face of it, that’s an understandable response. Much forest destruction is caused by agriculture, mostly livestock farming. About 80% of Amazonian soya grown is for cattle feed. About 60% of the cleared land is used for pasture. Horrendous. But “Stop eating meat” is a simplistic response that ignores the bigger problem: destructive agriculture.
We’ve been increasingly dividing diets into plant vs animal. It’s a split that fits nicely into social media virtue-signalling and current (insanely misguided) nutritional advice. It’s an ideological division. Viewing this sort of compartmentalising through the prism of rainforest concerns highlights its unhelpfulness.
Mr. Mozaffarian is dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Mr. Glickman was the secretary of agriculture from 1995 to 2001.
The Democratic debate on health care has to date centered around who should be covered and who should pay the bill. That debate, which has been going on for decades, has no clear answers and cannot be easily resolved because of two fundamental realities: Health care is expensive, and Americans are sick.
Americans benefit from highly trained personnel, remarkable facilities and access to the newest drugs and technologies. Unless we eliminate some of these benefits, our health care will remain costly. We can trim around the edges — for example, with changes in drug pricing, lower administrative costs, reductions in payments to hospitals and providers, and fewer defensive and unnecessary procedures. These actions may slow the rise in health care spending, but costs will keep rising as the population ages and technology advances.
Instead of debating who should pay for all this, no one is asking the far more simple and imperative question: What is making us so sick, and how can we reverse this so we need less health care? The answer is staring us in the face, on average three times a day: our food.
Food justice advocates heaped praise on Boston Monday after the city’s legislative body unanimously passed an ordinance that boosts the local economy and environment as well as workers, animal welfare, and healthful eating.
“With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools,” said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability, following the vote on the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).
“This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation,” she added.
One of my most popular blogs was “Sustainable agriculture jobs after college” in which I reflected on the process of getting work after graduating college. ” In this next essay, I share a few thoughts about the jobs situation in sustainable agriculture. My conclusion is that while there is much work that needs to be done, well-paying, meaningful lifetime “career” jobs that offer a sense of security are hard to find. At the same time, many mid-career folks who have security are finding their work unfulfilling.
The popular press defines organic farming by the toxic chemicals it rejects.
A more accurate portrayal defines organic by the biological systems it embraces.
Real organic farming is based on the creation and maintenance of a biologically active fertile soil.
Organic farming succeeds because of the benefits derived from that fertile soil.
Successful production of pest-free plants and animals with active immune systems is a direct outcome of farming a biologically active fertile soil that has been shown to induce pest and disease resistance in the crops. Pesticides are rejected because they are not needed where # 1 is done correctly.
Extensive modern scientific research into the marvelously complex soil micro-biome is revealing the vital ecological processes that support organic agriculture. This research underscores the intuitive brilliance of the founding organic farmers.
As a bonus, truly fertile soil produces food of the highest nutritional quality. This was the foremost initial aim of the soil care techniques that became organic farming.
Soil fertility does not require inputs from off the farm. It can be endlessly self-renewed with farm-derived compost, crop rotations, green manures, cover crops, grazing livestock, and other time-honored soil-care practices that nurture the boundless energy and logic of the earth. Real organic farming focusses on redesigning agricultural production methods rather than merely substituting organic inputs for chemical inputs.
Deep rooting grass and legume pastures in the rotation help to maintain fertility and make available the almost inexhaustible mineral supply from the lower levels of the soil. Grazing livestock benefit the soil; pasture raising benefits the livestock.
Most significant of all, since the biological systems of the real organic farm are powered by ecologically sound management – rather than by purchased inputs – this food production system is accessible at no cost by farmers everywhere and can thus feed the planet with exceptional food in perpetuity. That clear path to a bounteous well-fed future for mankind will remain neglected if we allow any misunderstandings about – and subversions of – the foundational concepts of real organic farming to go unchallenged. CAFOs for livestock and hydroponic fruit and vegetable production are NOT organic.
Do you agree?
If you want to explore this topic in more depth and learn some practical skills along the way, check out our fall online class,