Debunking the “feed the world” myth

will-harris

The topic of “feeding the world” is hotly debated.

Industrialized agriculture interests argue that factory farming is the only way to feed our growing world population. This mantra is used to justify destructive and inhumane practices that make food artificially cheap and wastefully abundant.

We believe that every country has a right to develop their own food production system. We don’t believe that we American farmers and ranchers are supposed to feed the entire world; we think we’re supposed to feed our community. That being said, we’re very happy to take this opportunity to explain our perspective on this issue.

Before having that discussion, we all need to stipulate that the earth has a limited carrying capacity, meaning there are not infinite resources available on this planet to produce food and sustain life for an unlimited population.

If the acreage that is available to farm is the only limiting factor, industrialized agriculture wins. By using artificial crutches developed by reductionist science, factory farms can produce more food per acre of land than regenerative farms can.

If petroleum is the limiting factor for feeding the world, we win, because we don’t use as much as they do. If global warming is the limiting factor, we win. We don’t produce as many greenhouse gasses as they do. If antibiotic-resistant pathogens are the limiting factor, we win. If topsoil loss, endangering wildlife species, increasing dead areas in the seas, pesticide contamination, diminished resources, water shortage and contamination, and a host of other disasters are the limiting factor, we win. These problems have only been with us since agriculture became industrialized.

Factory farming truly made food abundant and cheap. It is more efficient and productive per acre of land, if that is the only consideration. But it has horrific unintended consequences for our animals, our natural resources, and the economy of rural America.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management, Rural Community | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Debunking the “feed the world” myth

  1. ewetopia44

    Wow! Fantastic post, Angela – so clearly said! Woot! –Carrie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. BARBARA

    AMEN!!!!

  3. I agree.

  4. Family farms were the bedrock of America’s founding. More, they were bedrock of American Communities until recently. Wendell Berry has been writing on this topic for decades. Your town is perfect example of both types of farming. Industrial killed your community & your family farming providing the means for you to buy empty storefronts & homes. Industrial farming is far beyond producing food, it is control. Political control. Will Nelson saw it years ago & Farm Aid began. Happy day Providence gave you epiphany about farming with Nature instead of against. Thank you for all you do. Garden & Be Well, Tara Dillard

  5. Debbie Genereux

    Well said. Concise, straight-forward, thoughtful,

  6. Greg Van Luven

    Not sure how the grain and oilseed sector would ever convert the land holdings are huge and population centres of any numbers are far away I live Middle East centle Sask Can

  7. Dave

    Not sure I agree that factory farms produce more good per acre. Small and midsize highly diverse farms can feed more people with an acre of land – with real food!

  8. William Milliot

    Industrialization led to fewer stakeholders by undermining the value of labor which drove more and more farmers out of business. In doing so, it gave the fewer-but-larger remaining producers the power of fear. That is, the power to pressure the government into subsidizing them our of fear this new industrial-scale system could fail catastrophically. The subsidizing of the industrial system, in turn, exacerbated small farm failures and ballooned Big Ag’s influence over government – a feedback loop of concentrated power and corruption. Fear (we have to feed the world or else) is their dominion.

    Resiliency against catastrophe comes with diversity. In this instance, we can define diversity as lots of small as opposed to very few large. Likewise, due to its resiliency, diversity doesn’t require subsidizing. We can add that to the small producer win column as well.

    Remove the subsidies and watch labor’s value start to regain traction making farming more economically appealing to young people. Diversity takes root and the loop reverses.

  9. Dan

    Right on. Not to mention the far superior nutritional value when it’s done God’s way!

  10. Great post. Try and get some PR to help get this post so mileage!

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