AGRICULTURE; CONVENTIONAL VS ALTERNATIVE.
The alternative approach is indented.
Conventional agriculture is highly energy inefficient; huge amounts of energy are used on the farm, in transporting, processing and packaging food, and bringing it from the supermarket. Much energy goes into irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers. Food wastes have to be dealt with as sewage.
Alternative agriculture is highly energy efficient; little or no use of transport, artificial fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation.
The energy used is non-renewable; mostly petroleum.
The energy used can be mainly human; i.e., a labour-intensive agriculture, especially in home gardens.
Monoculture; large plantations of the one crop. Ecologically problematic; requires much energy to sustain.
Complex ecosystems; many plants and animals growing together in more natural relationships. E.g., "forest-gardens". Mixed small farms; many products from the farm.
Much need for pesticides; no habitat for pest predators.
Little need for pesticides; use of natural predators etc.
Hence development of genetic resistance; pests become more resistant to pesticides.
Annuals; each crop must be sown again each year (not so for fruit.)
Perennials; mainly use of plants that will last for many years.
Animals must be artificially fed, requiring much energy.
Animals mostly self-fed, e.g., by foraging, free range.
Much transport involved; trucking in of fertilzier, feeds, trucking produce out.
Little or no transport. Local production for local use.
Huge scale; big farms run by agribusiness; no place for little family farms. De-population of rural areas.
Mostly small scale; scope for rural life and small farms.
Damaging effects on soil. Ploughing causes erosion. Pesticides and fertilizers damage soil.
Beneficial effects on soil. Fertility improved. Little ploughing, use of pesticides or fertilizer.
Boring, routine, alienated labour.
Varied, interested, owner-operated, self-directed labour, on family farms producing a variety of products.
Much preserving, storage, packaging.
Produce very fresh, free of preservatives.
Selection of those varieties suitable for marketing, e.g., capable of long storage, transport.
Selection of varieties that are best in food value.
Waste of imperfect fruit etc., cant market specked peaches.
Can use up all produce.
Cant recycle wastes; long distance from farm.
Recycling to nearby farms and home gardens facilitated.
Energy-intensive storage, freezing, packaging, sheds, silos.
Simple storage, e.g., leave carrots and potatoes in the ground, fruit drying, home bottling.
Expert run, dependent on sophisticated machinery, fuel, corporations.
Agriculture and rural societies highly dependent on distant markets, often overseas; can be ruined if prices fall.
Agriculture related to local economy, independent of dangerous international economy.
Production for profit, not to meet need.
More able to ensure that local need is the major determinant of food production and distribution.
Destruction of local, small, rural communities. Not needed by international agribusiness.
Enhancement of small local commnities.
Strictly market economies.
Scope for barter, gifting, voluntary inputs, free produce from the commons.
Very high yields per ha and per worker, but very low yields per unit of energy or capital used. Modern US agriculture takes about half a ha, 5,000 square metres, to feed one person.
Blazey claims that home gardening can feed a family from c 100 square metres, one 50th of the area! In addition home gardeners might use no artificial fertilizer, no non-renewable energy, no pesticides, can take advantage of synergies (chickens provide manure), and can provide leisure and exercise benefits. (C.Blazey, The Australian Vegetable Garden, Diggers Seeds, Victoria, 1999.)
Modern agriculture requires a lot of suits! Most pepole working in the food industry sit at desks in offices and fiddle with computer screens, organising logistics, advertising, legal services,finance...
Most people in altgernative agriculture can enjoy running their own little farm, in t shirt and sandshoes.
We probably spend as much time producing food as "primitive" humans did! when you include the time send in factories putting the food in cans, in trucks delivering it etc. and in shopping, and in the workforce marketing it. Most low income people spend about one third of income on food. Hunter gatherers spend about half their day on all the "work" they did.
The farmer receives only 27c in every dollar spent on food. If we bought food direct from local farmers we would cut its cost immediately by about 73%
Australian Society, June, 1987, p. 30.
The Simpler Way: Analyses of global problems (environment, limits to growth, Third World...) and the sustainable alternative society (...simpler lifestyles, self-sufficient and cooperative communities, and a new economy.) Organised by Ted Trainer. http://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/