13 March 2010

Two Problems from One Solution

In one of Wendell Berry's agrarian essays, he discusses two of the biggest problems in modern, industrial agriculture: loss of soil fertility and producing too much animal waste. The scientific, industrial method depletes natural soil fertility (micro-organisms, micro-nutrients, etc.) thus creating more and more dependence on chemical inputs (which have unintended consequences-comprimised water supply, bees?, beneficial insects?...). Industrialized animal production produces a lot of *crap*. Food, Inc. describes one hog farm in Utah that averages over 1 million hogs on site at a time. Because of the food input and, ahem, *output*, this one hog farm produces more *waste* than the city of Los Angeles. Holy *crap*.

Wendell Berry describes a typical, small farm prior to the industrialization of farming. He tells of farmers who knew how many animals their land could support. He writes about how farmers used the *waste* from their animals to fertilize their fields. Free, nutrient rich poo with much more complexity and variance than the typical three-nutrient chemical fertilizer. Wendell Berry reflects on this and says that, in typical industrial/scientific style, we have created two problems from one solution.

01 March 2010

Economic and Political Insanity

Two connected items from a talk I did last weekend:

1. Anyone remember what George W called us all to after 9/11? Shopping. Go to the malls. Consume. Spend.
2. Anyone pay attention to the societal/political reaction when Obama suggested that we avoid blowing our kids' college education money in Vegas? You'd have thought he was recommending human sacrifices. How dare he!

Richard Foster (paraphrased) says that when we live in and allow ourselves to be consumed by a sick culture, we become sick. I am interested in becoming less sick.