February 2, 2018 – by
The chemical-intensive industrial model of agriculture has secured the status of ‘thick legitimacy’. This status stems from on an intricate web of processes successfully spun in the scientific, policy and political arenas. It status allows the model to persist and appear normal and necessary. This perceived legitimacy derives from the lobbying, financial clout and political power of agribusiness conglomerates which, throughout the course of the last century (and continued today), set out to capture or shape government departments, public institutions, the agricultural research paradigm, international trade and the cultural narrative concerning food and agriculture.
Critics of this system are immediately attacked for being anti-science, for forwarding unrealistic alternatives, for endangering the lives of billions who would starve to death and for being driven by ideology and emotion.
From Canada to the UK, governments work hand-in-glove with the industry to promote its technology over the heads of the public. A network of scientific bodies and regulatory agencies that supposedly serve the public interest have been subverted by the presence of key figures with industry links, while the powerful industry lobby hold sway over bureaucrats and politicians.
This good food conversation needs to be sprinkled with words that name the dominant food system characteristic – control by dominant corporations. “Struggling against” needs to become as much part of the food ethos as “collaborating toward.”
What would this mean practically?
We would laugh out loud at the mention of, and criticize Ontario’s Local Food Act, which has not provided a dime for public purchasing of local and sustainable food, nor a penny for urban agriculture, or new and young farmers.
We would denounce the governing Trudeau Liberals for giving the kiss of death to a national food policy by handing the file to the department of agriculture, which has no officials or staff who are knowledgeable about food security or public health and which is controlled by agribusiness interests. We would also denounce the Ministry of Finance project, led by private consultant Dominic Barton of McKinsey and Company, to make factory farms and food exports the engine of Canada’s emerging economy – as well as the nearly billion dollars in so-called super-cluster grants to big corporations.
Source: Alternative Journal article
Video (34 min) – Source: Democracy Now
The modern glass greenhouse requires massive inputs of energy to grow crops out of season. That’s because each square metre of glass, even if it’s triple glazed, loses ten times as much heat as a wall.
However, growing fruits and vegetables out of season can also happen in a sustainable way, using the energy from the sun. Contrary to its fully glazed counterpart, a passive solar greenhouse is designed to retain as much warmth as possible.
Research shows that it’s possible to grow warmth-loving crops all year round with solar energy alone, even if it’s freezing outside. The solar greenhouse is especially successful in China, where many thousands of these structures have been built during the last decades.
Fruit Walls: Urban Farming in the 1600s
These crops were grown surrounded by massive “fruit walls”, which stored the heat from the sun and released it at night, creating a microclimate that could increase the temperature by more than 10°C (18°F).Later, greenhouses built against the fruit walls further improved yields from solar energy alone
By Colin Todhunter – Aug 29, 2017: As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to grow and how to grow it and our diets have developed accordingly. We have hunted, gathered, planted and harvested. Our overall survival as a species has been based on gradual, emerging relationships with the seasons, insects, soil, animals, trees and seeds. And out of these relationships, we have seen the development of communities whose rituals and bonds have a deep connection with food production and the natural environment.
However, over the last couple generations, agriculture and food production has changed more than it had done over previous millennia. These changes have involved massive social upheaval as communities and traditions have been uprooted and have entailed modifying what we eat, how we grow our food and what we apply to it. All of this has been driven by geopolitical concerns and powerful commercial interests with their proprietary chemicals and patented seeds. The process of neoliberal globalisation is accelerating the process as farmers are encouraged to produce for global supply chains dominated by transnational agribusiness.
Certain crops are now genetically engineered, the range of crops we grow has become less diverse, synthetic biocides have been poured on crops and soil and our bodies have been subjected to a chemical bombardment. We have arrived at a point where we have lost touch with our deep-rooted microbiological and social connection with nature and have developed an arrogance that has placed ‘man’ above the environment and all other species. One of the consequences is that we have paid an enormous price in terms of the consequent social, environmental and health-related devastation.