Sustainable Table, the local eating group that created the amusing Meatrix video, has a good post about two of the saddest terms in American food production today —factory farming and industrial agriculture. It’s the kind of post you might want to share with friends who aren’t yet convinced that organic food is worth the cost or effort. If nothing else, direct their attention to the manure holding pit in the photo of the industrial hog operation. That pretty much says it all.
To illuminate the issue, consider that the motivations that developed the ‘factory farm’ model. Feeding a large concentration of people at a distance from the farm presented huge problems for armies throughout time. The crucible for the United States came during WWII, which resulted in massive technological advances. At the same time, when the munitions plants weren’t needed to produce gunpowder, they simply altered the formula and began producing fertilizer. The so-called Green Revolution began.
The love affair with technology isn’t over. Technological advances have been singularly responsible for an unprecedented period of prosperity. Unfortunately the collateral dissociation of man from the land and a failure by the policy makers and general public to recognize the superior non-cash value of an agrarian-based society has brought us to where we are today. With all of the amazing information that science has uncovered to date, there are still countless details missing from a comprehensive knowledge about the necessary building blocks of life and the elements that contribute to the web of life.
It has taken years and significant policy shifts to get us where we are. Industry and business, driven by shareholder interest in profitability are the biggest impediments to re-developing a more diverse and nimble agricultural model. Even so, many people are embracing elements and driving a resurgence of small farms growing food directly for those who eat the food. A CSA is the most notable example. There is nothing factory like about a small family farm. Upper Meadows is one example of how farming can be.