Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just Another Farming Industry

I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and the way I see it, it’s like this:

If you looked at Iowa in the ’50’s and saw the diverse farms with their cows, pigs, chickens, varied rotating crops, orchards, and someone told you that one day, nearly the entire state would be stripped to nothing except corn (during the growing season) or empty dirt (the rest of the year), you would have thought that to be ridiculous.

If you looked at pigs growing on that farm in the '50's, and someone told you that one day they would be raised in barns with slotted floors so that their urine and feces could mostly drop down into a pool beneath the floor, with maybe 10 hogs to a pen and maybe 100 pens to a barn (a barn can contain 1000 pigs), coexisting with the cloud of ammonia just above the pool of their own excrement, and their skin coated with the excrement that has not been kicked down between the slats, you’d say I was crazy.

If you looked at the cows grazing in the fields, and someone told you that one day they would be raised on feedlots, eating not grass but corn, standing in their own concentrated manure, being administered preemptive antibiotics because of the high likelihood of disease, you’d also say I was crazy.

As Michael Pollan says, the logic of industry has replaced the logic of nature in farming. So I’m telling you now. We might as well let the logic of industry take on algae farming to grow fuel oil. It’s not the strangest thing we’ve done as humans.

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