Our dependancy and the Organic Movement.

The industrial revolution.   Despite what you may think, I don't disagree with it.   Without it, most of us wouldn't exist, and we wouldn't know of, let alone have most of what we have today.  Yesterday I watched a show on TVO about a British lady who was trying to maintain her family's old farm.  In the special documentary there was emphasis on fossil fuel, and how the world is essentially running out of it.  They spoke about how dependent agriculture, and food imports are on fossil fuel.  They mentioned the price of gas, and how that was already putting farmers out of business.  

One very interesting thing she spoke about was her memories of living on the farm as a child.  Back in as recent as the 80's she would watch her father plow the fields and how the birds would swarm behind the tractor in order to get the recently surfaced bugs and plant life in the soil.  Now, only 20 odd years later, her land is dead. The only thing behind her tractor now is dust clouds. Now, in order to grow crops, she needs to use synthetic fertilizers - that are made from, produced, and transported by oil.  Statistics later mentioned that we have tripped our over all use of oil in the last 50 years... alone.

 They also say that agriculture is a leading gas guzzling institution.... we need oil.  She used a prepackaged sandwich as an example.... without even mentioning the plastic packaging, she explained all of the oil that went into each ingredient.   First off, all of the ingredients were mass produced... we often picture a cute old lady at the deli counter, when really it's an assembly line of workers and thousands of miles of transport.  The bread, made of flour/wheat that was grown using synthetic fertilizers, large farm equipment that burns a lot of oil.  The ham, comes from pigs...  pigs are usually 5 months old before they are slaughtered, so they need to be fed for 5 months...  they eat (after doing a little research) 8lbs a day, so that's over 1200lbs of food in a life time, which is corn, grains, soy, etc, which all require oil to produce.   The lettuce and cucumber were most likely grown in heated greenhouses.  The dressing is most likely made of vegetable oils which require machines to extract, seasonings like salt needs to be mined, pepper needs to be grown and ground.  Plus synthetic preservatives... then it has to be mixed, packaged, and transported by machines.   And that's just your simple ham sandwich.

During one part the host/lady went to an old local farm and asked an 82 year old lady about what she witnessed in her life time as far as agriculture goes.  There was a picture shown of her with her plow... two horse power (literally - two horses), and then compared it to the 400 horse power farming machines used in mass production today.  She spoke about all of the hard work she needed to do as a child in order to support her own family and the local community, and about how she couldn't dream of seeing her grand children doing the amount of work she put in, because they live in a world where everything can be bought.  She stressed that people are too ignorant and dismissive when it comes to knowing where our food actually comes from.  She also went on to say that in order to fix the problems we face today, we'll have to go back to our roots... but it won't be that easy.

Mass production and importing has allowed societies to maintain growing populations of people who have access to everything this world has to offer... materialistically speaking, and it all has some tie to fossil fuel consumption.  We have the option of not knowing where our goods come from before they get to the retailers.  But it can't last.  I'm not going to say how long we have, because I don't know... but I do know one thing.  Oil is made of ancient organic matter.  This world only has so much fossil fuel.  Eventually, at some point we will run out and will have to find something renewable to replace it... even for cost purposes.  Since we have tripled our fossil fuel intake over the past 50 years, and show no real sign of actually slowing down enough to make a difference, our oil loving days are numbered.

So this left the farmer lady/host with a problem.  How can she ensure the future of her beloved family farm, without being dependent on oil?  Hell... she can't even get crops to grow on her land without using oil soaked fertilizer.   Her first option - bio fuel.  After some quick research she found that even the most efficient bio-fuel crops are unable to produce a small fraction of what we need.  Even if all of the farmers all over the world switched to the most efficient crop, they wouldn't be able to meet current demand.  Although renewable, it's far from a fossil fuel replacement.  This means a change in focus is in order.

How can we grow crops without any oil consumption?  She went off to find people who were trying to do just that.   She found one family who's father spent most of his life studying his own land in order to keep it alive, and to decrease the use of pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, that are so heavily dependent on oil.   The answer was simple.  Leave the land alone for a period of time, and nature will take it back.  Constant plowing and herbicide and pesticide use has killed any organic matter from the soil, stripping it of the natural nutrients plants and animals (both living and dead/decomposing) provide, making synthetic fertilizers an essential component to most agriculture.    Nature has it's own fully functioning, clean, and sustainable system.  Bees pollinate, animals poop fertilizer, etc.  Grade 3 science people.   Instead of conditioning land to grow a certain crop, they used crops that naturally grow there, along with other plants that will assist with, and encourage nature's special way of balancing everything out, which includes natural herb/pesticides.    Who woulda thought that going back to the very basics would solve problems that we have spent hundreds if not thousands of years trying to duplicate synthetically.   There is one problem.   With this system, we can no longer grow strawberries next to oranges in organized mass producing greenhouse establishments.  Although these methods called Permaculture (, are proven to be effective, they will never meet today's demand.  Crops will not grow as fast, or in as large amounts as we know today.  Which means... and you guessed it..

We have to make a serious cultural change, especially regarding our expectations, towards consumption of not only food, but everything we buy.   I know, nobody wants to make this sacrifice... hell... I don't want to go without my computer and fast food,  but I realize that what we are doing now, is not sustainable.   Although everything appears to be working now, it won't forever.   We will once again have to go back to some hunter gatherer way of life.  No.. we won't become cave men living in mud shacks with total anarchy.  There will however be a huge change of pace.  Instead of working at the local bread factory, you'll be at home baking enough for your own family.  There will be less focus on a family's income, and more on their production and physical contribution to their family and society.... just like it was in the not so distant past.  We will have to be much more careful with all of our energy consumption... instead of using it to transport goods we don't need, it will be used to transport necessities such as medical supplies, water,  etc.  There will also be a change of population.   Not very many of us live in a society that is self sustainable.  Meaning, most of what we consume is not local, but imported from various places all over the world.  That is what allows us to sustain large condensed populations.

It's simple really.  Mass production is what makes our current life styles and culture possible.  Mass production is at the mercy of fossil fuel, it's prices, and it's availability.  If the price is too high, or it's just not there to buy, mass production cannot exist. At this point, we are unable to match the energy fossil fuel gives us, so we are currently unable to simply switch over to these newly proposed resources in order to maintain our current demand (current being the key word).  Without mass production we will have to be more self sufficient on an individual and national level. And we will have to make sacrifices... once we run out of oil, we will have no choice.  I figure it's better to establish more self sufficient systems now, before a real crisis, and a real anarchy happens.  If we were to hit the end of what oil we have left, suddenly, we would be devastated.   We will very much lose what separates us from 3rd world countries and the appalling living conditions their citizens face.   So our choices are pretty clear cut... get your head out of the clouds, realize the end of oil is, maybe not near, but inevitable,  become self sufficient and make sacrifices (like the need for having oranges in winter) now, OR stay ignorant, assume everything will stay the same, and eventually get dumped off into a world that you will simply not be prepared for, leaving you to probably starve.  For a moment, try to think about how your life would be if you couldn't get into a car, drive to the store, and get what you need.  It was like this before, a people survived to go on to develop the world we know today.  We are not immune to change. If anything, we are walking on a thin sheet of ice that barely separates us from the ways of the past... and that sheet hasn't been thinner than it is now.  Our dependency on technology and oil has never been so high.  Without it, we're fucked... unless we do something about it.  The answer is in nature.. nature has given us everything we've ever needed, on top of immense beauty.  It's time we stop fighting nature, and learn to work with it again. 

Anyone who still believes that this world will never run out of oil is ignorant and plain ol stupid.  Even if we don't run out tomorrow, we will eventually, and it's our responsibility, as it was for generations past, to insure the future of the generations to come.   You better believe big corporate is going to try and either monopolize this green movement and corrupt it by doing so, or try and protect/defend current consumerism.. but it's not impossible. 

 It's basic really.      

Uploaded 11/25/2010
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