Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Read the Comments?

I don't know how many times I read comments on a news item and wish I hadn't - and then I tell people about the horrible things people have said, and am told "Never read the comments!"

This time, though, I am glad I read the comments because I found this gem. I've been thinking a lot about waste lately, and about how to create as closed a system as possible with my gardening (and eventually, my daily living) so that I am not, for example, taking phosporous from Morroco and then peeing my own phosphorous into the local lake where our sewage ends up. This could be a closed loop within community - I have no problem using a friend's horse manure and returning vegetables to her. Basically, I don't want to enrich my own situation by impoverishing another. Nature provides a beautiful model to follow, and this commenter explains how it works in a food system:

One of the hardest things for me to wrap my mind around is the almost singleminded focus that so many people have on looking for a way to 'manufacture and sell' a remediation for a problem. In other words, techno-fixes are the way forward (particularly if one can market them or the tools to apply them).

Nature designed grazing animals to harvest, process and redeposit all the nutrients and organisms necessary to maintain soil fertility indefinitely with humans filling the supervisory role since we no longer allow the graziers to range at will on the landscape and we have removed the predators that kept the graziers moving and thinned the population periodically.

A lovely side benefit is a truly clean, healthy food (so long as we humans resist the urge to medicate the critters like we medicate ourselves or lock them up in small areas where they have to live in their own excrement) that provides most of the nutrients we need to stay healthy. I know, there are many things that also come from various 'vegetables' but the graziers eat the original vegetables and the nutrients are deposited in their tissues for their use as well as ours.

Another side benefit of planned grazing is the rebuilding of the soils' ability to catch and hold water using the root webs that happen when grass is thick and healthy. I think most of us on this forum are aware of the water issues we face and of the need to find ways to restore the water cycle to its correct state. You can fix the erosion and compaction problems faster with grass than with any other plants.

The constraint, as I see it, is that no one except the grower makes much money from these techniques. One can't be the next Bill Gates or Kubota tractor designer or Monsanto or ADM with these procedures. No one with an interest in promoting grass management is funding research projects at our land grant colleges so the researchers continue to pursue projects with a commercial bias...then give the results to whoever paid for the projects.

To the contrary, many times the land grant experts actively work to discredit grass management practices for the very reason that they reduce or eliminate the need for purchased amendments and equipment.
You find Rodale, Vandana Shiva, Allan Savory, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry Gene Logsden, John Todd and many other proponents of Natural Systems doing the necessary validation but the information does not make the front pages (or even the back pages) very often.

I wonder why we humans, particularly Americans, simply must complicate things instead of looking at what has worked for centuries and seeing if we can replicate the System.
Well, I think the commenter has given the answer to her own question - the engine of capitalist growth that we are all feeding drives our food system. The many fundraisers to cure cancer, and the lack of fundraisers to prevent it come to mind - it is far more profitable to create a pharmaceutical to cure a disease than to ban cosmetic pesticides. After all, crime, sickness, war, and pollution all can increase economic activity and therefore increase the GDP, our marker of success.

That is, the marker that we are told indicates success. How would you like to see success defined?

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