Food is one of the absolute
basics of life. Without it there is no life. Food = energy. Without
energy to sustain life's processes there is no life. But food can also
harm when that food is contaminated with pollutants. And a lack of food
variety and quality is also detrimental to a healthy and productive
The necessity of mass food production and the
lack of proper education about food have made many people unhealthy and
unaware that food is a basic necessity to a long, healthy and happy
life. You are what you eat is an absolute truth in bio-dynamics.
But what do we need to do in order to change the bad
habits of food production and consumption?
From hunters and gatherers to massive agricultural enterprises,
genetic modification of crops and livestock, food production has
come a long way.
Food is inextricably connected to human society
and evolution. When we lived in small humanoid groups it was
sufficient to hunt animals and collect plants and vegetables in
order to stay healthy and obtain enough sustenance to keep us going.
But as we made our ascent in the food chain so did our food
production habits adapt. Instead of wandering around looking for food, we
started to grow and manage it ourselves. In order to feed a growing
and stationary population you need a reliable food source. Farming became a part of
society, changing animals, plants, the environment and our
organizational structure in the process.
City life demands larger
quantities of food readily available. Farmers and city dwellers
became two separate societies. Human society diversified in
functionality. Survival and growth meant possession of the best
farming land. As primitive groups already fought over the best
food and water resources, cities fought each other to control
the land's resources and each other.
Material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate
and fat, used in the body of an organism to sustain
growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish
The practice, science or art of
cultivating the soil, harvesting crops, and raising
But where war and strive exist as a
continuous condition, as we see in modern day Africa and other
places, farming becomes impossible, starvation becomes reality
and society fails. Peace and stability is obviously very good for your health.
Today, the earth sees a variety of
human cultures and civilizations. There are still primitive
tribes of hunters and gatherers that depend on their direct
environment to exist, and there are city dwellers who could
never live off the land. They would not know how.
Because of population pressures
many areas previously untouched by modern life and inhabited by
poor or primitive peoples are now being 'developed' by national
and international corporations in order to obtain more arable
land. These areas are also under pressure from illegal logging
and mining. While turning them into more farmland will help feed
a growing world population we also need to consider what we lose
by destroying these areas. And is destruction of natural
forest and habitat really the most efficient method for food
Plants need sunshine, water, good soil, and protection in order to grow.
When left alone, plants will thrive in conditions best suited for them
and refuse to grow in places they do not like. When we force plants to
grow where and how we want them we either need to take care of their
needs for them or alter them so that they will thrive.
In small populations it is not a problem to use local land for food
production and livestock. Communities are built where conditions are
favorable to farming and/or food gathering. A small part of the land
that is best suited for farming is used and the remaining land is left
untouched. This is utopia as far as local supply meets local demand is
concerned and consists of a sustainable land management program. Slash
and burn practices on poor soil is not part of Utopia as they leave the
soil unusable after a few years.
But we have gone far beyond this basic principle of checks and
balances. Because of our ever growing demand for more food production we
have blatantly ignored these basic principles. We force food to grow
where it would not, we destroy areas that other life besides humans
need, and we manipulate our food supply in order to produce ever more
and specific products. We also overproduce.
Because of materialism and uncontrolled population growth we have
become the single most destructive force on the planet with total
disregard of the consequences of our actions on ourselves and the world
around us. We seem to be eating up the planet.
But any self respecting parasite manages to evolve into a state of
symbiosis with its host rather than its consumption and subsequent
destruction. Surely there is a better way to manage our food supply and
ourselves and keep the planet beautiful?
Proper education about land and farming principles make it possible
to use the land without destroying it. Unfortunately, this education is
lacking in many areas of the world, especially in those where
conservation is most needed.
Return to basics
After a number of food scandals during the 1960's and 70's there has
been a return to organic and more environmentally friendly farming over
the past decades.
But it hasn't been enough. Too few areas of the world are adapting to
friendly food management practices and too many, particularly the Third
World and their Developing Countries, have become a target of food
multinationals, overturning and ignoring everything we have learnt about
proper food management in the quest for ever increasing profits.
These food multinationals, despite their commercials claiming the
opposite, are using destructive
agricultural practices that the more affluent nations have long banned.
This includes the use of dangerous chemicals in pesticides, monoculture
and destruction of local wildlife preserve and traditions.
In the interest of economic growth and personal financial wealth many
local and national governments in the developing world have turned a
blind eye to the practices of these food growers and manufacturers and
the detrimental effect these practices are having on the local
environment and population.
Global is local
Globalism is a favorite word of big companies that like to expand
their base of operations across the globe. But this expansion is seldom
in the interest of sustainable development or the local community.
Different needs apply to different areas and "globalizing" everyone
into a fast food eating, jeans wearing, television advertising watching
consumer is not beneficial to a properly functioning local economy. Besides,
it does very little to keep people happy. If anything, it promotes
dissatisfaction with what could otherwise be a great lifestyle.
What is more important to a small farming community in a remote
region; receiving MTV or information about local farming conditions and
an educational channel? At the least have both. Showing poor people all
the riches other people have as if they should have them too can only lead to resentment and
Where the happiness of the people is foremost in the objectives
of government, satisfaction levels about life, the universe and
everything are much higher. Happiness isn't solely achieved by the
amount of possessions you have but more by how you feel about yourself
and your surroundings.
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a term used by the Government of
Bhutan - a Himalayan mountain kingdom between India and Tibet - to
measure the happiness of the Bhutanese people. This largely rural
country considers it important to find out whether the population is
happy. Not surprising then that many people are not interested in moving
to the city in order to pursue a life of material greed. With improved
health, education and communication services to the rural areas, most
prefer to live the country life.
In a paper written after a local workshop seminar on
Gross National Happiness and what it means one of many statements stands
"The paper initially presented at a seminar on Internal Control Systems
argues that accountability is an indispensable
criterion for good and effective governance and that the quest for
happiness requires a minimum standard of accountability in public
Governmental accountability is a key word here. When governments fail
to protect us from ruthless corporations it becomes very difficult to
maintain proper food production practices.
In a truly open and bureaucratic government system accountability
should not be a problem. (See also Utopian
Food production technology
Food production technology ranges from the hoe and spade to giant
combines and genetic manipulation. As one of mankind's oldest
industries it has been under constant use and revision since the
earliest days of our civilization.
Improving the quality and usefulness of those plants and animals
we depend on for survival is one of the oldest practices in
But does that mean that the beef or chicken I eat has to come
from an animal that has been abused its whole life? Born of
machines, living in a cage, fed with barely organic substances, only
to die in the grip of another machine? No.
Livestock needs to have a life
Meat tastes better when its original owner has had a better life.
Beef quality is better when the cattle has been allowed to range,
same with chickens and pigs.
It would also prevents diseases such as Mad Cow Disease when
livestock isn't fed on the processed remains of their own.
With current agricultural technology and practices it is
certainly possible to raise livestock in a more respected and useful
manner. Better use and understanding of the land makes it possible.
And it also commercially viable.
Farming problems and solutions
What are the main problems of agriculture? Lack of water, pests,
How about corporations, governments and war? And what about lack
of money, lack of arable land?
And what about lack of markets to sell your products?
Proper information and education could alleviate many of these
The rainforests are not only the lungs of our world but contain
the greatest diversity of life on the planet.
Many of our products and a large part of our medicines and
pharmaceuticals come from substances found in rainforest plants. How
then can we even consider destroying such a fantastic resource that
nature has put at our disposal?
One of the problems lies in the attitude we have towards the
forests. Many people simply consider them wasted or unused land. Or
land too difficult to use as is. So we cut them down and plant crops
instead. At best this results in a temporary profit. We can feed our
family and perhaps have something left over to sell.
We consider this minimum use of what is really a maximum
Without the need of extensive education local people can be taught
to search out specific products and plants the forest produces
without destroying the entire forest. We do not mean the so called
selective logging that is currently using this as an excuse but if
we see the forest as a potential provider, a giant research station,
we can reap the benefits and enjoy nature at its best
Collecting specimens and information is a worthwhile pastime as
well as a significant provider. For example, the
butterfly farming project in Papua New Guinea or
Farming the Flying Flowers from Costa Rica.
Here, instead of emptying the forest of one of its most beautiful
inhabitants, local people have been taught to farm the butterfly.
This provides them with a cash crop for the long term as well as
preserving their natural world.
There is no reason why this principal cannot be applied for other
products, including food production, in other areas of the world.
When you grow a single crop on a plot of land you are limiting
the potential of that land severely. A forest is not just a
storehouse of mahogany or popular zoo animals. It is a giant
warehouse of thousands, even millions of diverse products. Instead
of seeding and then harvesting a single crop and then waiting for
another growing season, the land can be continuously used year round
by growing and harvesting a multitude of products as they come into
season. And where it concerns trees, a growing season can mean a
Especially in the developing world where labor is cheap and
education and ecological awareness low, is this a much better way of
managing the local natural resources.
The good guys and the bad guys
The good guys are people, companies and organizations who care about
what they produce, who consumes it and how it is produced.
The bad guys are those people and companies that produce food and
related products for the sole purpose of financial gains,
irrespective of any impact this may have on the environment, the
natural world or the people involved in the production processes.
Whereas before central government controlled food supplies it is
now in the hands of multinationals, vying each other to buy up and
monopolize the basics of life: water and food.
Food Program - The World Food Program, a division of
the United Nations has as its mission to eradicate
global hunger and poverty by meeting emergency needs and
to support economic and social development.
Conservation Union - The World Conservation Union is
the world’s largest and most important conservation
network. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage
and assist societies throughout the world to conserve
the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that
any use of natural resources is equitable and
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an
international agreement between Governments. Its aim is
to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild
animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Greenpeace - Greenpeace is an non-profit
organisation, not funded by governments or corporations,
which aims to stop climate change, protect ancient
forests, save the oceans, stop whaling, say no to
engineering, stop the nuclear threat, eliminate toxic
chemicals and encourage sustainable trade.
The history of agriculture - an excellent overview
of agricultural history by
Advanced BioTech, covering the agricultural aspects
of human society from agriculture in prehistory to
modern day high tech agricultural practices.
Crystalinks - Agricultural history - an overview of
agricultural history during early civilizations.
University of Reading, UK - Agriculture, Policy and
Development - History of agriculture.