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To Diversify Agriculture, We Must Diversify the Questions We Ask


To Diversify Agriculture, We Must Diversify the Questions We Ask

Emile Frison

It is not uncommon for ‘food security’ to be the subject of gatherings and conferences around the world, particularly since the food price spikes of 2007-2008. More often than not, the discussion is framed around the following questions: How can we ‘feed the world’ and with what technologies? How can we tweak current approaches in order to maintain crop yields? As farmers groups and civil society organizations gather in Romania for the Nyeleni European Food Sovereignty Forum, it is refreshing and reassuring to note that ‘feeding the world’ is not at the top of the agenda.


I am for local agriculture to feed local populations. I am also concerned about Climate Change and the evolving face of just where that food will survive in the long run. We have to look at where the most stable places are to grow food. Whole populations are on the move and that will increase. We need input now on where those populations will go and how they will be fed and housed. Whole cities could be built in anticipation, and their food and water supplies planned out in advance. It would take World cooperation. Another concern is the genetic response to temperate change by our crops. The World needs diversity in food types to prevent our whole dependence on seeds by Monsanto that are only suitable for a 3 temperature variation.


Thank you Emile and thank you Pooka.

To tie down the migrations due to rising oceans alone would be a major political and social accomplishment. The topographical maps showing altitudes around the world are available. And although no one will ever agree on the pace of ocean rising, maps detailing the land that goes under water for every ten foot rise could be done.


I would love to see a public discussion in every coastal area around the world for how their communities plan to deal with each ten feet of ocean rise.


It is wonderful to see CD take on this topic and this article.

Diverse food systems are better because diverse ecologies are better, and in the same ways. Diverse food systems are ecologies that produce human foodstuffs so that humans may be integrated within the system and within the ecologies. Creating or maintaining ecological systems that produce what humans need is not only the only way to create a sustainable system that involves humans, it is another term for the same thing.

Yet another term for the same thing, or for the study or attempt to create or arrange the same thing, is permaculture--a craft or study or movement or belief system that may integrate methods traditional or novel, a lifestyle in which errors may be amended and successes extended and propagated.

Even the diversities of food production are themselves diverse. Best practice varies by climate, topography, culture, and circumstance. Single plots or pots or fields best yield multiple crops at once, and many things are best planted in succession. Surely we must ask diverse questions.

In part, tweaking agriculture must involve allowing farmers and gardeners the economic elbow-room to ask such questions instead of forever asking what we must will tell the bank. The artificial efficiencies of commodity capital markets and the natural economies of rain and sun and soil biota have repeated conflicts. One produces food and soil and plenty; the other produces profits and bare dirt, and has repeatedly across the globe. While we force farmers particularly to sacrifice they land they work to fulfil obligations related to the artificial structures of finance, we sacrifice the land they work for a short spell of market produce and a long spell of dead or dying land.

Many have left the cities and other means for a more natural life that they conceive of in many ways. But every dollar and every day that goes back into GMO products, herbicides, pesticides, fungicide, refined chemical fertilizers, and factory animal product poisons some soil or dumps it into the sea.


The 2007-2008 food price spike was not a "natural" economic phenomena of supply and demand. The price of wheat and rice flour almost doubled in one week in March of 2008. There is no change in supply or demand that could possibly explain that. Frederick Kaufman explains that it was Wall Street that caused the change.
The best thing that the average citizen can do is eat sustainably grown organic produce and grass fed and pastured eggs, meat, poultry and dairy. The soil can hold 2-3 times the carbon than the atmosphere and above ground plant material combined. If soil carbon content is increased by 2% according to soil scientists all the carbon from burning fossil fuels since 1850 can be stored in the soil.
If we eat organic and grass fed the market will make it possible for more farmers to produce and more farmers will switch. You and your family will be healthier and the industrial food system will lose its power. Monsanto may even go bankrupt. A revolution from the bottom with the fork as the weapon of choice.


One best way to diversify agriculture is to have small farms. Nothing gets people to take up farming than growing merryjane. Legalize it.