Organic = world starvation?

Further to my blathering about trying to eat ethically..which in itself seems a bit rich, pardon the pun, given that I’m part of a scant percentage of the world population that’s privileged enough to be able to give over the time and money to doing so. Cynical consumer guilt is fun. So, I was reading some criticisms of organic farming. There were some decent points, assuming their facts were accurate. I had always assumed that the state of the world food supply was that we produce enough, but are woefully inefficient at distributing it. Apparently, that’s not the case. The exploding population has, according to some, pushed the need for food to a point that only intensive mono-culture farming can provide enough sustenance. Organic farming comes into an obvious clash with this reality in that it is lower-yield. The proponents of intensive farming argue that by using existing land more aggressively, we are actually preventing deforestation. Organic farmers would counter that they are protecting biodiversity and keeping toxins in the environment to a minimum. I honestly don’t know what to think. Population needs to be managed somehow, but in the meantime people need to be fed. On the other hand, what’s the point of perpetuating the species in the way that we do if our grandkids are to be handed a toxic planet to manage?

From a consumer point of view, I suppose what makes sense is to minimize inefficiency by buying locally-produced food where possible. From a political/social/etc. point of view I don’t know that organic farming will ever be achievable world-wide, but certainly it should be encouraged where practical. I think that ameliorating the myriad issues relating to population will produce the positive gains necessary to make widespread organic farming feasible. For example, people should perhaps consider eating less meat, as the land and water it will free up for feeding other humans will be substantially increased. Where it is not necessary to have large families, more ought to be done to provide access to birth control. Maybe we should be more critical of food pornographers who equate quality of life with meals prepared with ingredients that must be sourced from all over the planet. It also wouldn’t hurt for governments to legislate such that food is treated less as a commodity that is tied to profit and more as a resource that no one should be denied access to, but that requires much more optimism than I’m comfortable with :P.

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3 Responses to “Organic = world starvation?”

  1. rasjane Says:

    Okay then, second book recommend is Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. He points out that monoculture does NOT produce more food, simply insanely cheap calories. Eating local is the best way to counteract this. A local farm, say a CSA, has to grow a variety. A variety of crops lessens pests and disease thereby reducing the need for chemicals. Monoculture, even organic monoculture is hard on the soil. Polyculture on the other hand, while less “efficient” makes better use of the land and it’s resources. It takes more man-hours to produce, but provides more nutrients because the soil has more to offer. More food, and more nutrients per bushel=better fed people.
    The mid US has been called a food desert. Crops as far as the eye can see, but none of it immediately consumable. One farm town decided to have a farmers market, but there was no one who grew produce to sell. Just mass computer controlled big corporations. 😦

    • rosgen Says:

      Thanks! It’s hard to trawl through the books on amazon, weeding out the sensationalism from the good stuff. Shall order your suggestions asap.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Organic-world starvation?

    Read Thomas Malthus?

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