Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Permaculture Over Agriculture

I have been a proud supporter of local organic sustainable farming as the main source for all my meats and vegetables for some time now, but I never realized just how far and wide the destructive arm of agriculture reaches into the world around us leaving behind death and destruction in its wake!

I've only just begun reading The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keitho, and to say I was shocked just when I thought I couldn't possibly be shocked anymore would be an understatement. The things man has done or continues to do for his own selfish gain (that of the "greater good") and always at the expense of our health, our environment, and any poor creature that shares this planet with us, is just heartbreaking to learn about. I am not talking about the "senseless killing" of poor animals (cow, sheep, pigs, chickens) for our own glutinous urge to eat.. No that would be a vegan's standpoint, and that I am not. Instead I am referring to the damage we have done all in the name of agriculture.

Give a man some grains (cereal, flower, bread, etc.) and he can eat for a week, but give him some seeds and a plow and he will surely destroy the planet.

Around 12000 years ago man domesticated wild annual grasses into the grains we eat today; corn, wheat, rice, soy... ok that one's a legume but for arguments sake it's really all the same. Ever since man first put plow to field in some way shape or form, we have depleted the earth of nearly all its usable topsoil and destroyed entire ecosystems in the process. We cut down and clear forests and plow prairies, transforming a wild fertile landscapes of perennial polyculture into a monocrop of annual grains. We dam rivers in order to irrigate them without any concern for the ecosystems they support, and until the advent of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, when all the natural resources the land had to give were used up, we would simply move on to another poor unsuspecting plot of land.

Civilizations are built, wars are waged, social classes are formed, men are enslaved, and nature is destroyed all in the name of agriculture... I guess the plow is truly mightier than the sword!

So what is the alternative to agriculture as we know it? From what I'm learning it's called permaculture. It's about variety and maximizing resources while reducing and eliminating waist and pollution. It's about mimicking nature, because the truth is we DON'T know better!

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