The modern project in its promethean ambitions and cartesian methods has on balance turned out badly. We are in a social crisis, an economic crisis and a spiritual crisis.
Industrial Civilization has plundered the natural world for over 200 years, pushing all essential life support systems to their limits, heading towards ecological breakdown.
Peak water, peak soil, peak health and peak climate are driving global civilization into a state of emergency.
Species extinction has accelerated 1000x , oceans are overfished and turn acidic, soil erosion runs 500x faster than soil creation, water tables are falling and temperatures are rising.
We may have a 100 years on the clock – maybe only 50. Some believe we have already passed a point of no return. Only Nature knows…….
Modern Food plays a central part in life’s requiem. Unlike most peoples’ intuitive reasoning about planes, cars and power plants it is a fact that over 30% of all green house gases are released by petrochemical agriculture and factory farms.
In the course of this devastating food production process we are poisoning our soil, our water, our air and ourselves. Every day hundreds of thousands of tons of pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers and greenhouse gases are burped, farted and dumped into the biosphere.
We wage a silent war on life itself.
Plastics and exotic toxins are running in our blood, obesity is endemic, diabetes, cardiovascular deceases, allergies and multiple cancers are mushrooming in industrialized populations. Nevertheless, as additional proof of The System’s total failure – 15% of humans – over one billion people – go hungry every day.
A spectacular design failure that nevertheless continues to thrive and expand, supported by industry lobbied legislation and subsidized with billions of public funding.
“The System” – is a profit scheme run by a couple of global corporations claiming to “feed the world”, and who are actively supported by institutions over which they have gained significant covert influence through a revolving door culture between industry and politics - the FDA, the EPA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank to name just a few. In spite of their “Feed the World” battle cry The System has failed to deliver any proof of increasing the carrying capacity of the planet – on the contrary we experience a systematic degradation of the environment, of public health and of biodiversity. On the other hand 350 million small farms – with their numbers declining – are still feeding 50% of the global population – the healthier part of the global tribe, fed without collateral ecological damage, without deficit spending of future generations natural capital, without patenting life, without subsidies and without endemic health issues.
Perhaps there are some things large corporate setups do well – infrastructure, technology, energy and transportation may be among them - but as recent history shows tending the land, caring for animals and growing food are not among those things.
What industrial food corporations are doing to the idea of food as such , to the animals in this system, to our collective health, to the land and the environment at large is reckless, violent and driven by greed alone.
Because of its centre stage role in wrecking the biosphere the production of our FOOD also has the biggest potential to get us out of the hole, to turn the ship and heal us and the planet. Our daily act of eating is a powerful medium of change – we can literally vote with our forks and connect all the dots in the critical, delicious and vital moment of putting food into our bodies – our health, the health of the ecosystems carrying us, climate, energy, biodiversity, community, politics and happiness - they are all connected with the most basic and powerful energy transaction on the planet – billions of people putting 2000 calories into their bodies – every day.
It’s time to disrupt the failed system – time to disrupt BigFOOD.
Time to wake up and start writing a new story – the story of our generation. A generation that knew more than any previous one about who we are, where we are coming from and, most importantly where we are heading – a generation that finally woke up and put its knowledge to work, that placed cooperation over competition and quality over quantity – the story of a generation that started walking north on a south bound train.
“All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.” Geoff Lawton
Our daily food , the ways in which we make it, move it and consume it is at the heart of the problem and the solution.
Food can be the saddle point of a new equilibrium between the human project and the rest of life on this planet.
Let’s Vote with our forks
Eating is an agricultural act – our food choice can turn into a daily initiative of change. By insisting on local organic clean seasonal delicious food we create pressure on The System and become co-producers with local farmers. Swap Supermarkets for Farmer’s markets, join community supported agriculture programs, and cultivate something at home. Let’s break The System – calory by calory.
Let’s claim the Enviroment as the end all and be all of human activity
Western Civilization moved from church to nation state to economics as the primary organizing structures for our lives.
As we are heading towards ecological bankruptcy it is time to abandon the dictatorship of quantitative economic growth and move on to a holistic principle
of an economy nested in society, and society nested in the environment.
In FOOD local is the new global
Food production, allocation and consumption has to shift from global chemical to local organic.
Every region needs to explore, maintain and refine its culinary traditions, work with delicious, local, seasonal ingredients and promote and support regional producers.The resulting diversity of localness and deliciousness will promote resilience and health of the regional economies and people.
Organic Polyculture shall replace Chemical Monoculture
Polyculture farm systems are proven to be not only regenerative ecosystem benefactors but are also more productive in the long term.
Call on governments around the world to stop subsidizing “The System” and divert subsidies to incentivize organic polyculture farming
and to support agroecology research projects to improve and spread our knowledge of sustainable agriculture systems. We need land reforms in favor of young farmers. And “farm service” instead of military service.
Turn agriCulture into an ART form
In most languages “farmer” has become a derogatory term over the past century of urbanization. Let’s make working the land aspirational again – celebrating the fruitful co-existence of animals, land and man in the delicate creative dance of sustainable agriculture.
Working the land shall be seen as a form of Art – let’s put culture back into agriCulture.
Preserve and work the Wilderness
Wild lands are disappearing fast. Keeping wild territories wherever possible , in primary forests, steppes and untouched waters is essential to biodiversity and human survival.
Thoughtful and gentle harvesting of the wild following ancestral hunting and gathering practices will help preserve wilderness around the world while adding a delicious contribution to our food requirements. Incentivize “rewilding”.
Let’s bring People to the Land, and Land to the People
Polyculture farms are complex interwoven production cycles that need a higher “eyes to acre ratio” than industrial farms. Let’s bring more people to the land.
Working with the land has a curative power - for the land and for the people. Many civilizatory pathologies are connected to the alienation of people from the land and animals, the disconnection of the “community of life”. Work sabbaticals, woofing, internships and agriculture trainings will become elements of the future agricultural workforce that truly has the potential to feed the world.
Let’s heal the Community of Life
We are intricately connected to the rest of life. Darwin showed us that we are the (interim) result of 4 billion years of evolution. An intricate web of life that has unfolded over billions of years, interwoven and intimately connected through millions of biochemical transactions, many of which we have not yet come to understand. This community of life and our special role as stewards and custodians in it can become the base for a new spirituality. The idea of life as a holistic structure with humans representing a special kind of mental ability – consciousness and abstract conceptual thinking about the past and the future endows a responsibility upon us. The responsibility of knowing. It can become the foundation of a new collective spirituality and awareness. The end of “them” and the beginning of “us”.
A kind of epilogue
We are half way through the life of the sun – it is possible that we will colonize the universe , and hopefully some future version of us – an advanced version of earth’s life evolution will watch the sun go down over the pale blue dot in 6 billion years from now. To get to that point however we have to learn to continue and protect the miracle of life’s evolution, become the stewards of life rather than its predators, evolve to understand the delicate interdependencies that allow us and the rest of the biosphere to thrive.
“A partnership of life on Earth, a mutual celebration between evolution and intelligence” as David Orr calls it in “the Trial”.
Realizing eventually that beyond the drunken delight of human conquest and progress lies a sacred opportunity – to become heroes, become the custodians and storytellers of an otherwise silent universe. (et al Berry, Swimme)
This are some of the writers and thought leaders whose work has shaped and continues to inspire our project – take their names as a reference and as a reader list – their writings will help to make the world a different place:
Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, David Orr, E.O. Wilson , Joel Salatin, Geoff Lawton , Bill Mollison, Darren Doherty, Eugenio Gras, David Montgomery, Wangari Maathai, Jairo Restrepo, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Richard Heinberg, Wes Jackson, Albert Einstein, JH Kunstler, Carlo Petrini, Rachel Carson, Maria Rodale, Sir Albert Howard,Charles Darwin, Wade Davis, Rob Hopkins, Lester Brown, Rudolf Steiner, Noam Chomsky, Raj Patel, Miguel Altieri, Jared Diamond, Carl Sagan, Anna Lappe, Vladimir Nabokov, Bill Evans