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.

1 comment:

trisha said...

well let's gather up the shit and fertilize those fields!!