Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Polish Agriculture

From Grist and Erik Hoffner:
That's what I'd read in the New York Times this spring, in a story which reported that interest in buying local is thin, and the market for organic is even thinner. And this is largely what I saw there -- people preferred to buy vegetables from Germany, and farms I visited were wondering what their market would be in the future. Ironically, most of these farms were already organic because of the prohibitive cost of chemical amendments, but hadn't bothered with the paperwork. Most small farmers don't sell at all, but consume what they grow -- pure subsistence.
In my high school biology class, many years ago, we were taught something that's now discredited: "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"--meaning the development of the individual retraces the steps by which the phylum developed, hence the presence of gills at one stage of the fetal development. I wonder whether that's sort of true for economies--an agricultural economy which the Michael Pollan's of the world regard as ideal must necessarily transform into an industrialized agriculture before, perhaps, and this remains to be seen, developing post-industrial crunchy green characteristics.

1 comment:

Sara DownToEarth said...

Although I am a beneficiary of the movement to go back to the "good old days" as a farmer's market vendor, I too have wondered and worried about our rose-colored view of the "way things were".

Most of the technologies eschewed by this movement are here for a reason; some of these reasons are because we screwed up one thing in the process of improving another. Sometimes, however, the technologies employed are there because they are simply an advancement.

I would caution that a purely retro approach to agriculture would be similar to suggesting that the solution to our dependence on oil is going back to horse-and-buggy transportation.