Modern Farming

5 thoughts on “Modern Farming”

  1. “Honestly, most people won’t like it when they can’t get Chilean peaches, Arizona lettuce and Atlantic salmon on demand any time of the year.”
    Yeah, and there are also the three billion or so who will starve to death without industrial fixed nitrogen. They really won’t like it. Then again, Haber was a convicted war criminal.

    1. Notice I didn’t suggest that artificial fertilizer should just go away… I simply pointed out that a lot could go very wrong very fast with this particular set of arrangements. That’s not the same thing.

      Technically Fritz Haber died in Switzerland in 1934 before he could be prosecuted or convicted of anything. He actually won the Nobel Prize for his work in artificial fertilizer in 1918 – and this was after his chlorine gas was used in the trenches of WWI. His scientific piers pretended not to remember that part of his work. Keep in mind, Alfred Nobel made his fortune from nitroglycerin explosives. Haber’s real contribution to war crimes actually occurred after his death when the Nazis used his agricultural pesticide Ziklon B to poison Jews in the camps. Haber was a Jew himself, although completely “Germanized” and a convert to Catholicism. No matter – he still had to flee Germany in 1933 when the Nazis turned on him. Complex guy… How history twists and turns.

  2. I love gardening and growing my own food supply. But man is it inefficient, especially when you first start out. This Onion article is not a joke!:

    I’ve slowly educated myself and getting better. The Resilient Gardener is a good book on what’s necessary to make a reasonable dent in our dependence on these supply chains from a home gardener point of view. Hope you like potatoes and corn!

    But as you point out the current system is fragile and dependent on petro, gas, etc. If that stuff disappears or simply becomes too expensive over time, we’ll transition to a more organic/local system on a large scale. Honestly, most people won’t like it when they can’t get Chilean peaches, Arizona lettuce and Atlantic salmon on demand any time of the year.

  3. Another great post, Johnny. Thanks for making it so clear. If I could add one thing, I’d note that as the number of farmers has dwindled due to the forces you’ve mentioned, the average age of farmers has also crept up in a very scary way. Our current farmers, while they may practice a destructive form of agriculture I’d like to see go away, have an immense store of knowledge that we will lose in the next couple decades. I can only hope that as agriculture changes, we’ll see a new generation of farmers absorbing the lessons of industrial agriculture as well as the wisdom from farmers of forty centuries.

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