The Agricultural Disconnect

We read a lot about city gardens, growing your own food etc. In Cuba it was necessary and may still be, just for people to have enough food. But in the Europe and the US we can’t be serious about growing our food in the city, more food needs to come from somewhere to complete the diet, to reach the required amount of nutrients. 

Urban farming in Cuba 

The wierd situation is that we can buy that food. How come it’s wierd? Because we don’t do anything for it. We don’t make farm equipment, we don’t make diesel, almost none of us. Yet we can all buy the produce of the farm. The reason is that farms sell to the market, and have to sell to the market to make money to pay of debts. Because farmers are caught in financial obligations they will sell and will work. But we don’t induce those obligations, the banks do. We don’t buy the grain or rice or wheat, the banks do (traders using credit from the banks). The disconnect becomes even more stark if we look at GMO foods, those are grown against our will, outside our consent, and offered to us without our knowledge (labeling is fought). 

This doesn’t seem like a big deal, its just economics isn’t it. That is right, it is economics, it is a result of the system of divide and make interdependent. Most people can’t grown their food because they don’t own any land. Even if they own land they would face lots of opposition of the banks and agroindustry trying to kill competition. In the US people growing their own food have been branded terrorist! 

It is a big deal though. You will starve if you don’t have money. A farmer in africa won’t starve if he doesn’t have money. Who is better off? The absence of real involvement our food supply means we have to work to get the money to access it. It would be better if everyone had futures in produce from specific farmers. We don’t. That market is owned by banks that will sell futures for non existent food to push prices down, and farmers into their arms..

The natural cycle of economics runs from organic produced food (solar energy captured) to whatever can be created the farmers still want to buy. So you’d have all the jobs needed to run the farm, maybe fertilizer plants (wind driven), logistics to cities and whatever entertainment people liked. Pure solar farming would probably not drive the existence of big cities. But everyone could feel they earned and spend a fair wage.

We don’t think industrial agriculture is all bad, just that it should not be left to be the playground of fossil fuel use maximization. The market should be released from the grip of banks (that pretend they secure the supply, while it has been proven supply follows the weather), and returned to popular control. This could even mean one could work for ones own food on a farm, then go back to the city to enjoy the harvest. Automation and other technology utilizing renewables could make the process much greener, sustainable.

Right now farming is suffering greatly from it’s own emissions. Farming became a lot more carbon intensive, so that instead of food growth taking on twentieth of the available solar energy, it now takes 10 times the delivered calories in fossil fuels! Banks will claim the markets are necessary to keep supply up, but firstly it only means they steal supply from poorer countries by printing money, second, as predicted by the World Bank supply will leave the market, like for example russia did a few years back.

Reconnecting the market to the food producers is a wise move because it makes the current food crisis much more visible, and the source, climate change and fossil fuel emissions, much more contestable. We need to fight both but right now we read about it and then go to the supermarket like these things are seperate. They are not. The suppy to the supermarket can stop any day either because food could not grow in the heat (or flood) or because oil prices went through the roof and logistics isn’t viable anymore.

This is the story of economics, it is a system that increases vulnerability and applauds waste and destruction as an opportunitye to generate more revenue from it’s core business : Selling fossil fuels. We live in a time where the risks of this philosophy are blasting us in the face, but because we don’t ‘feel’ any movement in supply of food, nature, we don’t respond. We remain well fed by a system that knows it will collapse. 

To reconnect we need to nationalize all agricultural markets. Make it easier for people to invest in futures. Ban the existence of any naked shorts or uncovered commodities contracts, ban the derivative market only to the point that futures are for actual future harvests, and eliminate fossil fuels out of the agro business. Fossil fuels can be replaced by wind and solar fertilizer, fuel (ammonia, NH3). To strengthen corp resilience we need to ban GMO patents and domination my Syngenta, Monsanto and promote a wide variety of species, maybe grass based farming as well.

This will put power in the hands of farmers, but not much, because they can grow so much food with so little effort. It will reconnect people to what is most important to them : Access to food, and provide a new base for the value of money : Solar calories.. 

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