appears in the book,
For All Generations -- Making World
culture More Sustain-
able. Ordering informa-
Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World? ... And Is That the Right Question?
you're content being a cog in the great wheel of industrial agriculture, you'll
likely find this essay upsetting and challenging.
The author, North
Dakota organic farmer and sustainable farming activist Fred Kirschenmann,
refutes the notion that all-out, high-input production for the global
marketplace is the only way to feed the world. Kirschenmann even wonders if "feeding
the world" should be our goal.
"'Feeding the world'
suggests that someone will take responsibility for feeding someone else, and
therefore make them dependent. Under those terms, there can be no food
security," he writes. "'Keeping the world fed' suggests that people
will be empowered to feed themselves. That is essential to long-term food
Critics of sustainable farming often argue that such
methods can't keep up the pace of producing enough food to feed an
ever-expanding human population. But Kirschenmann maintains that we need
alternatives to the industrial model because it is quickly destroying the
fragile ecological balances and using up the natural resources upon which
the real problem with the
unprecedented increase in human population is that it has led to the disruption
and deterioration of the natural functioning of earth's biotic community, and
that is what threatens our future -- not lack of production," he points
Reining in population growth, of course, is part of the solution. But
the other major piece of the puzzle is to find ways of farming that mirror the
evolutionary stability of the ecological neighborhoods in which we live, and
that enhance rather than deplete our resources.
ag-related controversies ranging from global climate change to the role of
livestock, Kirschenmann argues that organic farms "
local ecologies and rooted in local communities, can do a better job of keeping
the world fed than large, corporate farms owned by distant investors."
He concludes: "The best way to achieve food security is through food
locally produced by local people with local control."
Kirschenmann adds one caveat: "Since agriculture today is about power,
powerful interests will oppose these new initiatives, and, of course, they will
continue to claim that only their way can prevent world starvation."