There is little agreement about how to apply the principles of sustainable agriculture to the dominant chemical-based farming system and equally robust hegemony of consumer society. It is not clear that these ideas about farming and consumerism even go together.
Is there a way to define local food and sustainable agriculture so as to frame an approach to food security on a planet with a growing population? Some of us believe we are heading that direction regardless of current food policy, consumer practices and business self-interests.
Sustainable agriculture is defined as “the act of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment,” according to Wikipedia. “It has been defined in U.S. Code, Title 7, Section 3103 as ‘an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term.'”
One of the best examples of sustainable agriculture can be found in Cuba after the break-up of the Soviet Union. To get up to speed, view the film about Cuba after peak oil, The Power of Community for free online.
During the balance of this summer, Blog for Iowa plans to elaborate on sustainable agriculture, its relationship to so-called traditional agriculture, and consumer behavior as it pertains to food security. A few things seem clear:
- Oil and natural gas, while important to Iowa’s current agricultural model, are not necessary to feed the world as they are today.
- The world currently produces enough food and the trouble is inadequate distribution systems.
- Soil erosion is unsustainable and a key feature of sustainable agriculture is what it does to store carbon and water, and to build soils.
- Consumer buying habits are learned, and they can be changed, but not the way one thinks.
- Even the adjective “organic” isn’t going to make children and grown-ups want to eat their vegetables.
BFIA hopes you will read along as the topics develop over the summer. In the meanwhile, take a look at the article posted last summer to get a preview: Toward an Iowa Local Food System.
For easy access to the series, bookmark the link 2014 Sustainable Food.