Tag: New World

Food

We are what we eat!

There are a few sayings that I would have loved to have authored!  ‘We are what we eat‘, is one of them.  ‘The world reflects back what we think about most‘, is another.

But anyway, this article is not about sayings, it’s about food.  And to get straight to the point, I’m going to republish something that recently appeared on the Chris Martenson blog.

Joel Salatin, proprietor of Polyface Farms and highly-visible champion of sustainable farming, thinks modern humans have become so far removed from a natural connection to the food they eat that we no longer have a true understanding of what “normal” food is.

The rise of Big Ag and factory farming over the past century has conditioned us to treat food mechanically (as something to be recoded and retooled) vs. biologically. And we don’t realize that for all our industrialization and optimization, we’re actually getting less yield and less nutrition than natural-based processes can offer.

Whether we like it or not, the arrival of Peak Oil is going to force us to realize that our heavily-energy intensive practices can’t continue at their current scale. And with world population still increasing exponentially, we’ll need to find other, more sustainable ways of growing our food.

“What we view today as “normal,” I argue, is simply not normal. Just think about if you wanted to go to town 120 years ago. If you wanted to go to town, you actually had to go out and hook up a horse. That horse had to eat something, which means you had to have a patch of grass somewhere to feed that horse, which meant you had to take care of some perennial in order to feed that horse in order to go to town. And so throughout history, you had these kinds of what I call ‘inherent boundaries,’ or brakes, on how much a single human could abuse the ecology.

And today, during this period of cheap energy, we’ve been able to extricate ourselves from that entire umbilical, if you will, and just run willy-nilly as if there is no constraint or restraint. And now we are starting to see some of the outcome of that boundless, untied progression. And so the chances are, the way to bet, is that in the future we are going to see more food localization, we are going to see more energy localization, we are going to see more personal responsibility in ecological lifestyle decisions, because it’s going to be forced on us to survive economically. We are going to have to start taking some accounting of these ecological principles.”

Joel, his family, and the team at Polyface Farms dedicate themselves to developing environmentally, emotionally, and economically-enhanced food prototypes and advocate for duplicating their production around the world.

In this interview, Chris and Joel explore what constitutes truly sustainable agriculture and the reasons why our current system has departed so far from it, as well as practical steps individuals can take to increase their own personal resiliency around the food they eat (in short: “find your kitchen,” source your food locally, and grow some yourself).

There’s a recording of the interview and a transcript, both of them from here.  Want to know more about Joel Salatin? Keep reading!

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms

Joel Salatin is one of the most visible and influential leaders in the organic food and sustainable farming movement. His family owns and managesPolyface Farms, which has been featured prominently in such modern food movement works as The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and the film documentary Food, Inc. Joel’s unconventional but highly innovative farming practices are inspiring millions to increase their nutritional and community resiliency by seeking out local sources of chemical-free food raised using natural process-based farming practices. These practices have been documented in the many books he has authored, including You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise (1998), The Sheer Ecstacy of Being a Lunatic Farmer (2010), and the upcoming Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World (available for pre-order).

And if you think this is exciting and a powerful reminder of the speed at which the ‘New World’ is coming to us, then stop by tomorrow and read a recent article from Rob Hopkins from Transition Culture – will blow your mind away!

The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding

A book review

Unlike my recent review of Capt. Luis Montalvan’s book Until Tuesday which came about as a result of an invitation from the UK publishers, Headline Publishing, this review of Mr. Gilding’s book is totally off my own bat.  I should also declare that I have recently been in email contact with Paul Gilding with some pleasant outcomes.  To the review.

The way ahead.

Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will know that I have been making recent references to this book, which I have now finished reading.  On the 25th I quoted from the book in a post that I called The blame game.  I used a quote from Chapter 5, Addicted to Growth, namely “Growth goes to the core of the society we have built because it is the result of who we are and what we have decided to value.

Then the next day again when writing about Tim Bennett’s movie, What a Way To Go, when I reflected on Paul Gilding’s opinion that, ” the quicker that mankind recognises the massive levels of denial presently in place, the quicker that mankind will commit to the scale of change that is required“.

Now if mankind’s efforts to change to a sustainable way of life were proportional to the number of books, films and essays written about the subject then, frankly, the task would be complete.  There’s an awful lot out there!  Here’s a list of the books that I have read in the last few years:

The Human Side of Enterprise – Douglas McGregor

Motivation and Personality – Abraham Maslow

The Power of Pause – Terry Hershey

Earth in the Balance – Al Gore

The Spectrum of Consciousness – Ken Wilber

Politics Lost – Joe Klein

Why America Doesn’t Work – Chuck Colson & Jack Eckerd

The Art of Happiness – HH Dalai Lama & Howard C Cutler

Eaarth – Bill McKibben

Stabilizing an Unstable Economy – Hyman P. Minsky

The Next 100 Years – George Friedman

World of the Edge – Lester Brown

and finally

The Great Disruption – Paul Gilding

And, of course, this doesn’t even scratch the number of online journals, essays and articles that have been read in conjunction with writing hundreds of posts on this Blog.

So what’s the point?

On p.260, Chapter 20 Guess Who’s in Charge?, Paul Gilding writes,

We need to fully acknowledge the challenging times and inevitable suffering ahead but stay focused and determined to move forward and past this.  Easy to say, harder to do.

So yes, it is challenging to know how to respond to all this and what to do personally.  It is easy to see what the world should do, but what should you do?

but what should you do? Talk about a thump on the back of the head!

This is about me!

Of all the books that have influenced how I see the world and my opinions, the one book that has rammed home to me that this is about me, about my attitudes and behaviours, is The Great Disruption.  For a long time I haven’t needed convincing that man is screwing up the planet.  For ages, I’ve been sure that our greed and materialism were fundamentally incompatible with the planet. I have been so good at ‘talking the talk’ ….. but ….

But the way that Mr. Gilding has so comprehensively approached every aspect of how my past behaviours have been incompatible with the future needs of my little grandson, Morten, (and all the grandchildren in the world) is powerfully inspiring.  I now totally and utterly believe that only I am in charge of making a difference.

Why The Great Disruption touched me in this way when so many other books and articles haven’t done so isn’t clear.  Perhaps it was in the opening paragraphs?

The earth is full.

[skip one paragraph]

This means things are going to change.  Not because we will choose change out of philosophical or political preference, but because if we don’t transform our society and economy, we risk social and economic collapse and the descent into chaos.  The science on this is now clear and accepted by any rational observer.  While an initial look at the public debate may suggest controversy, any serious examination of the peer-reviewed conclusions of leading science bodies shows the core direction we are heading in is now clear.  Things do not look good.

These challenges and the facts  behind them are well-known by experts and leaders around the world, and have been for decades.  But despite this understanding, that we would at some point pass the limits to growth, it has been continually filed away to the back of our mind and the back of our drawers, with the label “Interesting – For Consideration Later” prominently attached.  Well, later has arrived.

I nodded silently in agreement when reading that.

Was it the opening paragraph to Chapter 4, Beyond the Limits – The Great Disruption?

The plans we have been making for our economies, our companies, and our lives have all been based on a key assumption that is clearly wrong.  This assumption is that our current economic model will carry on unless we choose to change it – in other words, no action means more of the same.

This resonated strongly with me because I happen to believe, without any specialist economic skills to my name – just a gut sense, that the economic situation now afflicting so many economies across the world is not cyclical but the start of a breakdown of the policies and behaviours of the last 20 years or more.  In other words, the Great Disruption was in my face already!  As is written on p. 87 in Chapter 6, Global Foreshock – The Year That Growth Stopped,

My view, firmly held at the time and since, is that 2008 was the year that growth stopped.  It was the year, as Thomas Friedman said, “when Mother Nature and Father Greed hit the wall at once”.

The Power of a New Future

But, in the end, the real power that I found in this book was the strength of Gilding’s argument that we will change, that seeing the future as hopeless is wrong, that man has the ability to commit to huge change when there is no alternative.  Ergo, p121 Chapter 9 When the Dam of Denial Breaks,

To argue we are naturally greedy and competitive and can’t change is like arguing that we engage naturally in murder and infanticide as our forebears the chimps do and therefore as we did.  We have certain tendencies in our genes, but unlike other creatures we have the proven capacity to make conscious decisions to overcome them and also the proven ability to build a society with laws and values to enshrine and, critically, to enforce such changes when these tendencies come to the surface.

So don’t underestimate how profoundly we can change.  We are still capable of evolution, including conscious evolution.  This coming crisis is perhaps the greatest opportunity in millennia for a step change in human society.

This quote is towards the end of the last chapter that spells out, as so many other books have done, that our global society Has a Very Big Problem.  Thus from page 123 onwards, slightly less than half-way through the book, Paul Gilding devotes huge detail to describing how we will change.  Frequently, the comparison used is World War II,

British poster from 1940

When Great Britain went to war in World War II, do you think they had clarity on all the details of transitioning into a war economy before they made the decision to act?  Of course they considered it, as we must, but it wasn’t a determining issue because there was no choice.  Do you think President Roosevelt calculated the United States could win the war by increasing military spending to 37 percent of U.S. GDP and producing a nuclear bomb before he decided to enter the war?  Of course not: he just knew they had to succeed and so they would.  He had confidence in human ingenuity delivering under pressure, when it’s given defined parameters and political support, and so must we.

From p. 164, Chapter 12 Creative Destruction on Steroids.

That’s what ended up being the real inspiration for me.  That it’s not about the complex problems looming large; as so many that Jean and I chat to here in Payson, AZ, readily admit to being worried.  It’s not news! The majority of the world’s citizens know the trends are not good.

No, what really socked me between the eyes was reading all the many and varied ways that we are changing (note present tense), that the Great Disruption is, in fact, mankind moving to a new era.  One where we will have less inequality, less poverty, be happier, have extended life-spans and a future that goes on for thousand of years.

The Future is Here.

The phrase ‘life-changing’ is often used but this book is truly life-changing.  The book will motivate you in ways that you can’t imagine.  It will inspire you but, above all, it will show you the way ahead.  Read it.

Well done, Mr. Gilding.  Well done, indeed!

Mr. Paul Gilding