Monday, May 17, 2010

Back to a Local Decentralized Farm Economy

A solution to our employment and economic problems would be to revert back to a farming economy. Farming? Let me make some points. First of all, food and energy are two of our most important commodities. They provide tangible value and are necessary for survival. However, while we have migrated to a high technology economy, we have outsourced our food and have become reliant on foreign petroleum based fossil fuels. We don’t know where the food has been in the supply chain or what it has gone through to get to our supermarkets. Two or three large corporate agribusinesses control the production of our food supply using monoculture practices which are destroying the land. This goes against natural design and the war goes on to fight nature with pesticides and herbicides which further compound the problem. Massive amounts of petroleum based products go into the making of these chemicals. Food may be cheap but we pay for it by subsidizing agribusiness with our taxes. Health care costs balloon due to carcinogens and toxic chemicals in the food chain. Obesity is at epidemic proportions due to processed cheap food loaded with high fructose corn syrup. We subsidize petroleum with our taxes also by our massive defense spending to assure we can get oil tanker deliveries safely to the country.
As corporations continue to downsize and maximize profits, the game of musical chairs has intensified for the middle class worker. No longer is just the blue collar worker affected when the music stops. The white collar worker now lives in daily fear of a pink slip as the available chairs left are removed in massive amounts each day with no end in sight. Meanwhile, the stock market continues to go up. Shareholders demand unsustainable growth in their investments while friends and neighbors are let go. Uncreative managers are fighting for their own jobs and doing the only thing they know how to reduce costs quickly. Are the answers really alternative energy technology jobs that produce super expensive hardware that only a small elite can afford? Can we depend on academia, the government and corporations to develop ground breaking technologies which will create sustainable employment for all?
This is the wakeup call. I ask myself each day, “Am I really providing value by making this power point presentation, doing this study or doing an excel spreadsheet report?” One way to provide tremendous value to society is to provide safe, healthy, locally grown fruits, vegetables and farm products. I know no one wants an organic carrot when Big Gulps, Big Macs and Twinkies taste so much better and can be eaten while driving the car. Most people are now conditioned to despise food that makes noise when you bite it. However, to the desperate unemployed, business opportunities can abound if we change that attitude. We can provide all of our fuel energy needs through small farm ethanol and biodiesel plants and still have plenty of land for food production. Local farmers can generate income for the surrounding economy rather than sending money overseas. By eating more healthy organic fruits and vegetables we can see health improvements. Medicines can be from herbs and plants rather than chemicals with dangerous side effects. We can live sustainably by having these small farms and cooperatives. We don’t have to become migrant workers toiling in the hot summer sun all day long. Small farms, permaculture practices, crop diversity, crop rotations, livestock diversity, and biofuel production can be the new-old economic model which can provide people meaning and purpose to work. Everything goes in cycles. Why not an agricultural economy which instead of mass production, is run by the masses? No longer are we performing menial tasks in a cubicle that provide more humorous content for tomorrow’s “Dilbert” cartoon. We are all then contributing to the local economy and doing no harm to man, animal or planet. We are no longer living under the daily stress of getting fired from a corporate job. Working with our hands and contributing to the greater good of all will bring more meaning and purpose to our employment. We need to work. We don’t need more handouts or entitlement programs from the government. We don’t need megabanks either because local community banks can be started in the local farm based economy.
I see how beautifully nature operates and it all seems miraculous. The life all around us in trees, soil, micro-organisms, animals, birds, seeds all work in harmony with air, sun, and water. When I dig a hole for a plant and get my hands in the soil I feel really safe and protected for a brief moment. Maybe this is what the ancients were trying to teach us about God or a powerful, creative, practical, tangible presence that is all around us. The earth is the most massive, living, breathing entity any of us will ever come in contact with yet we treat it like it is just dead matter for the sole purpose of human consumption. I don’t agree that we need to save the earth. The planet needs no help from us to survive. The earth can shake humans off like bad fleas and then go on to regenerate itself over millions of years to pristine conditions of balance and harmony where all kinds of life thrives. The planet will go on but will humans? Survival as a species will only be attained by working in harmony with nature and the planet. I like what permaculturist Geoff Lawton said “All the world's problems can be solved in a garden”. We don’t need to re-invent anything. Everything we need to get back on track is already known. I think it is now time to stop praying and start planting. By taking the stance that our purpose for employment is to do no harm to man, animal or environment, we give nature the opportunity to meet our every need. Clean food and energy can become sustainable local businesses run by the many rather than scarce dangerous commodities controlled by a few.

1 comment:

tsshep said...

I like your essay.I think a great way to get people growing more of their own food is thru community co-op gardens.One problem with people is they start a garden then get overwelmed and give up.I think a good idea is if 5-10 people get together and each plant 1 item only and concentrate on that crop.Then share ther harvests co-operativly.It enables people to use their expertise on ther favorite crop.Using people in your immediate area cuts down on wasteful trasportation cost. Tom S