This recent article was brought to our attention today since it mentions PTF’s 100 Foot Diet Challenge that was launched back in January.
It Will Take a Lot More Than Gardening to Fix Our Food System
By Stan Cox
A nationwide grow-your-own wave would send good vibes through society, ripples that could be greatly amplified by community and apartment-block gardening. But front- and backyard food, even if everyone grew it, would not cover the country’s produce needs, much less displace our huge volume of fresh-food imports.
Not even a poke in the eye
I’ve played a part in the promotion of domestic food-growing, and I now I seem to hear daily from people who believe that it’s the best alternative to industrial agriculture (as in, “I’ll show Monsanto and Wal-Mart that I don’t need their food!”). Even though most prominent home-lot food efforts, like the “100 Foot Diet Challenge“, also try to draw attention to bigger issues, the wider message can get lost in the excitement. Whatever its benefits, replacing your lawn with food plants will not give Big Agribusiness the big poke in the eye that it needs, nor will it save the agricultural landscapes of the nation or world.
…. Ironically, it’s that great troublemaker Voltaire who has too often been trotted out (and too often misquoted) as an advocate of withdrawing from the tumult of society, into tending one’s own property. Voltaire was indeed a gardener, and he did end his most famous novel by having Candide, after surviving so many far-flung hazards, utter those famous words to his fellow wanderer Dr. Pangloss: “We must cultivate our garden.”
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Yesterday afternoon our family watched the French Documentary ‘The World According to Monsanto’ (we purchased a copy to host a film screening sometime soon, more on our reactions in another forthcoming post) and it would seem that such subversive growing efforts are needed more than ever.
Besides, who’s to says one can’t grow all that one needs for a complete diet?
Cultivating Our Garden
Biointensive farming uses less water, land, machinery, and fertilizer
– and more human labor
by John Jeavons
Biointensive mini-farming techniques make it possible to grow food using 99 percent less energy in all forms – human and mechanical, 66 percent to 88 percent less water, and 50 percent to 100 percent less fertilizer, compared to commercial agriculture. They also produce two to six times more food and build the soil.
Biointensive mini-farms require much less area to produce the same yield of crops, so the nutrients contained in one person’s wastes can be applied in a more concentrated way. This enables the nutrients to be fully effective, and high yields can result.
Because of this higher productivity, Biointensive practices could allow one-half to three-quarters of the world to be left in wild for the preservation of plant and animal diversity.
It has been said that Biointensive practices might make it possible to grow food for all the people in the US in just the area now used for lawns. This possibility could mean thriving agriculturally self-reliant cities with ‘green belts’ to produce all their food.
Voltaire in Candide suggests that if we each tend our own “garden,” the entire world will be transformed. In the process, all of our work will be filled with meaning. In this way, we will “grow people” who possess a whole new understanding: that we must grow soil rather than crops – create rather than consume. When we do so, the harvest for our nourishment will be abundant beyond our greatest expectations!
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Or how about this article titled ‘The Man Who Would Feed the World’
“It takes about 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of land to feed one person the average U.S. diet,” he says. “I’ve figured out how to get it down to 4,000 square feet. How? I focus on growing soil, not crops.”
….And Jeavon’s method is about more than dirt-under-the-nails farming; he has 30 years’ worth of data to back him up. Each edition of “How to Grow More Vegetables” contains more statistical data than the one before: In the latest edition, for instance, you can calculate the precise number of beet seeds you’ll need to grow 30 pounds of beets, along with the protein and calorie content, space requirements, and the percentage of the harvest (i.e., trimmings and inedible portions) that can be returned to the soil as compost.
While this approach may be an interesting experiment for a university student, it could be a matter of survival for people all over the world.
The counter argument has been presented. Care to weigh in?