I was watching The Future of Food on SBS, this was an interesting documentary on exactly what I’ve thought were unsustainable farming practices.
It was a good watch, noting just how much grain is used to produce 100g of beef (it was a pathetically large amount). It was also interesting to note the fishing expeditions into poorer nations were depriving them of fish.
It then went over to India, where a few families have been deprived of community garden room as the government wants to grow plants suitable only for biofuel (they previously were farming their own food – but on government land).
Further into India where Wheat is grown, and they have a water crisis, ground water contains more salt the deeper they dig, and they’ve taken on debt way beyond their means to get water for their crops which is bearly usable anyway.
The documentary was a good watch, but I found it to rehash much of what is already known, food production relies on Oil, the output is proportional to land size available, the yield a result of water quality and farming procedure.
They did touch on the fact that as the world’s population continue to grows, more farming land is needed to continue consumption of grains, vegetables and fruit in quantities it is today.
They even managed to include the “Climate Change” buzzword as a possible cause of a future food crisis.
They touched on how prices will increase because of shortages of land, oil, water and food (as the demand for food grows).
What they did not touch on is how the impact on use of ‘mass’ farming techniques deployed widely today, are impacting the yields of tomorrow. A farmer who poisons his crops to control pests is in many respects reducing his future yield as many of the pesticides used remain in the soil for years on end.
The soil is in effect destroyed, and needs repair by use of fertiliser to artificially bring the soil to it’s food growing quality, the trouble with anything that is artificial is it’s never, ever, a full reproduction of the original. The fertilisers won’t ever be able to restore the original soil to it’s condition.
So, the farmer faces a reduction in yield, minor as it may be, it is a reduction.
With yield reducing, and demand increasing, it’s very easy to see that food prices will rise ever higher. That is, unless more yield is magically produced from the same amount of land, or demand is reduced.
The solution will be in releasing more farming land of course, for with more land, you will be able to produce more food, and with more food you’ll satisfy more demand thereby keeping prices in line with.. well, oil price increases for our farming practices require it.
Now, this demand trend continues to rise with population increases and population density, for people need fuel, and fuel for humans comes from food.
We have a finite amount of land that needs to be used for many purposes, housing, commercial, industrial and farming.
The current farming practice cannot be sustained – it is unsustainable. Water quality will continue to reduce in India and they cannot take on more debt when they’ve already taken on unsustainable levels, Land is finite – adding more for farming will not solve the issue.
Food needs a new source – one which reduces the consumption of finite resources to produce and transport.
Removing pesticide and fertiliser usage is a good idea too.