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"industrial ag is the only way to feed the world."

 
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This morning I stumbled upon this thread, which sparked an idea: to make a tool that will equip permies for effective communication regarding the merits of permaculture vs status quo.

Specifically I'm looking for fodder to make a simple, 1-sheet document that permie people can familiarize themselves with, equipping them to effectively persuade people to consider proven permaculture practices, in lieu of the current publicized fallacy

"Industrial ag is the only way to feed the world."

Picture this.  You step onto an elevator.  You may have put on your less-soiled jeans for a trip into town, but you probably still have some dirt under your fingernails.  The only person on the elevator when you enter is a human in business attire, polite but a little disconnected.  

At the next floor, another individual steps on - a true, dyed-in-the-wool 2020's American Farmer: shit-kickers, a hint of diesel, and a jason aldean ringtone. Probably heading up to the USDA office on the 18th floor.

You and the rural human give each other the knowing ag-nod and a conversation about your farms ensue.  It is soon apparent that you have very different approaches and philosophies to your agrarian practice.  You start getting side-eyed looks at the mention of "regeneration" and "polyculture." You press it a little bit, and then the rural archetype drops the bomb:

"That all sounds nice, but Industrial Ag is the only way to feed a growing population."

You've got a bit of a dilemma here, in that the ag archetype has a farming upbringing and a degree from Purdue lending credibility.  You may have a thriving green-thumb business and a PDC certificate, but at a glance, Suity-McSuiterson is probably going to give more credence to what Purdue has to say.

What we need here is poetry. Pure, compelling creative communication that in a few fell swoops:
1) dispels the big ag myth,
2) presents an empirically superior pathway involving community permaculture, and
3) paints a picture of something altogether more beautiful, something more attractive and alluring, something that makes people want to know more about it.

Oh, and it's gotta be bullet-proof and undeniable.

So I'm asking for your help.  

If you can give it some thought, what simple & quick articulations could be woven into this modular piece of poetry?

Maybe some bullet points or simple, customizable scripts that can be rearranged spontaneously to fit most conversational needs.

Maybe we need a few potential outlines of how the conversation may proceed - a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure.

Talky-points may include, but are not limited to the following ideas:

*debunk the "industrial ag has greater yields" myth
*paint a beautiful picture of how community permaculture feeds more people per acre
*numbers about actually feeding people - industrial ag vs permaculture
*data about the source of the fallacy "industrial ag has greater yields"
*soil building vs erosion data
*biodiversity as life insurance
*the health aspect, nutritional density, etc

Aaaand GO.
 
Beau Davidson
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Here's a response from the thread linked above:

1st define what are the "advantages" of industrial farming and thus see if there is a permie way to deal with those.
Fertilizer.....We can use n-fixers/biomass/nutrient accumulator plants
Irrigation....We can use 3ft dakion radishes and earthwoork for infiltration
Pest....If we plant more than one cultivar, increase biodiversity, plant repellent, make home for predators, etc.

Economies of scale.
It only takes 4,000 sq ft to provide enoughcalories fo a vegan human.
Thats 1/2 for a family of 4 that eats fish and chicken.
Thats a city size lot we wouldn't have to all move to the mountains.
Also consider that india has over 1/7 the world population and its around the size of Texas.
Thats more than everyone in USA times 4 stuffed into TX.
India also has desert and swamps and the Himalayan mountain chain (mt Everest), so it is not all fertile land.
How do they do it, by being mostly organic/permaculture.

etc etc



Here's another:


I have heard Mark Shephard and also Patrick Whitefield ( I am sure others too) turn that question on it's head and ask: Can industrial ag feed the world?
Lots of starving people across the globe, and where bountiful harvests occur, much of it is low quality dent corn, gmo soybeans etc. -- so not really food and/or needs heaps of processing to become edible.
Degradation is prolific b/c of poor ag pracices (see dustbowl and up until today).

 
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I was actually talking to my mom about Gabe Brown this morning. If you have the time, internet and patience he has videos of his long presentations online.  He incorporates a lot of permaculture techniques into his very successful farm, though I doubt he would consider himself part of the permaculture community.   The big thing about these talks is he has real world numbers comparing all the costs and all the yields as he incorporated new techniques. What I remember most from last time I  watched is no till and no fertilizers while growing corn and a vegetable garden, soil regenerative cattle grazing, polyculture pastures and the vegetables.   It's been a few years for me.

Pretty sure he's not the only one out there who can point to and say "×××× grew more ×××× per acre in ×××× than the county average with his unconventional methods."  And I do think it's best to address specific methods without involving the word permaculture. Permaculture as a community seems to me to be very much about experimenting to find better solutions and it's easy for those outside the community to point to all the things that didn't work while missing that it helped us find what did work.  Don't talk to them about the sausage factory, just offer them a little bite.

Edit : Imagine vegan sausage if you need to, I was thinking about the old quote about politics.
 
Beau Davidson
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Casie Becker wrote:Don't talk to them about the sausage factory, just offer them a little bite.



As hilarious (and kinda gross) as that proverb is, I think you are spot-on, Casie.  Really what people need in a brief introduction, rather than a discription of a whole system, is an appetizer, in the classical sense - something that is delicious and makes them want more.
 
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The biggest hurdle I see is that permaculture, or my view of it anyway, puts some of the responsibility for your food back on you.  Permaculture as I see it is best suited to help a family or small community grow what they need.  I don't see is as being scalable to the point of a handful of people can feed 1000's.  I can elaborate a couple of these points in alignment with the bullet points you mention.



*debunk the "industrial ag has greater yields" myth  If you are only talking about strictly yield per acre on a large land area, I'm not at all certain this is a myth.  One farmer with mechanized equipment may very well be able to grow 100 acres of potatoes and feed far more people than I can.  Yield in itself isn't a point I would argue unless I were arguing it on a very small scale.  I may be able to get higher yields of food from 1/2 acre, even an acre, of food forest, but how am I going to harvest if I could somehow create a 100 acre food forest.  One man can plant, grow, and harvest 100 acres of potatoes a year.  Can you imagine the time it would take to make a 100 acre food forest?  To harvest it if you could?

*paint a beautiful picture of how community permaculture feeds more people per acre  Again, I think this may be valid on a small enough scale to allow harvesting that is all basically done by hand.  If you talk about agro forestry like Mark Shepard does, you could do it on a much larger scale, but now we have to spend more time defining permaculture.

*numbers about actually feeding people - industrial ag vs permaculture  Once again, if you are strictly talking about numbers of people being fed between permaculture and industrial farming, I don't think permaculture has a chance.  Healthy food, diversity, better for the planet, more sustainable?  These are the areas that I think permaculture shines.

*data about the source of the fallacy "industrial ag has greater yields"  Still, not really a fallacy for large areas.

*soil building vs erosion data  
*biodiversity as life insurance
*the health aspect, nutritional density, etc

Now you are getting into the areas where permaculture really takes the lead.  I personally wouldn't even try to argue the yield issues, unless you talk about a family growing their own food or small scale, ie community-sized and worked food forests.  I believe I can growand harvest a higher yield on a 1 acre food forest than an industrial farmer can.  Simply arguing that permaculture yields more, when I don't believe it is true on a really large scale, would make me feel I was being disingenuous.  I could make the argument,but not without qualifiers.  Personally, I wouldn't argue with the big ag farmer, because we are talking apples and oranges.  He would be arguing that he could feed more people than I could.  I agree with him there.  I would be arguing that permaculture is better for me, better for the planet, produces better food, makes the world a better place in so many ways.

I believe permaculture can change, even save, the world.  But I believe it can only be done by lots and lots of people doing it small scale.  
 
Beau Davidson
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Trace, I hear what you're saying, but I maintain my desire to craft a tool that persuades in favor of "community permaculture," including the yield element - for many of the points you bring up.  My goal is a tool akin to some religious evangelism, in that both Purdue and the Suit encounter something so compelling that they not only change their minds, but also their very lives, and begin to engage small-scale, intensive, community food production, and convince 100 people to do the same.
 
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I think your enthusiasm is admirable, and in my experience telling other people what to do and how to do it backfires and is a waste of both parties time. Most humans are stubborn, and if something has worked for them in the past, they’re usually unwilling to deviate from their norm that has yielded results. To me, those that believe in the industrial ag fallacy need two things to happen: (1) most need to be brought to their knees such as bankruptcy by increasing costs, decreasing profits, worsening soil, worsening pest & disease pressure, lessening crop yields etc. in order to get to (2) having the candle of curiosity lit within them to be open and willing to listen and try something new. Thankfully, what I see is both #1 and #2 happen spontaneously on their own in increasing numbers each year. Gabe Brown is, I believe, a good example of a conventional farmer who almost lost everything before trying regenerative practices on a part of his 5000 acres, seeing the improved results, then incorporating them onto his entire farm. He now speaks at ag conferences each year across the world about how he made the switch and makes a nice profit, lives a comfortable life while growing organically and healing the land.

If you want to be armed with mental data for talking points, reading and familiarizing oneself with information from successful farmers can help, such as Gabe Brown, Joel Salatin, Gary F. Zimmer, Steve Kenyon, Greg Judy, Andre Leu, Mark Shepard, Neal Kinsey and there’s so many more. Regurgitating information to show the way is all good and has its place, but it can backfire with stubborn humans when they ask “are you doing it?” Not much, in my opinion, can have a greater impact on converting a person to better practices than showing them. Let them see with their own eyes what permaculture and regenerative ag can do. Let them hear with their own ears how one spends less and profits more, as I think of the best ways to change another’s farmers thinking is through their wallet.
 
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round here there have been huge numbers of converts to non-till, silvopasture (crop/cattle), and alternative fertilizer, especially after the fertilizer shortage this year (#1 on James's list above, essentially). I used to get the eyeroll, now I have people asking me about my processes.
I know this is not exactly the question, but I'm not here to debunk any other systems (people need to come to it on their own like #2 on the list, can't be persuaded; anyway, I'm not sure I can debunk anything, since every single system is unique), I'm rather showing what I can do with mine.
 
Beau Davidson
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Maybe James, but I would say, when the conversation "backfires," there is a chance that
1) the poetry wasn't good enough, or you're not actually convinced yourself, or
2) even if you big-time triggered someone, you may have planted seeds of transformation that will germinate in time.

I'm also not afraid of 9 out of 10 interactions ending heated/awkward/whatever, if seeds are, nonetheless, sown.

Admittedly, this social approach may not be for everyone - but I think equipped with the right tools for intellectually rigorous and compelling discourse, we will see huge gains in this arena over time.

I'm not asking to be convinced that this endeavor is not worthwhile. I am asking for help in writing beautiful, compelling articulations.
 
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Can Industrial Ag feed the increasing population? I vote that the people who directly benefit from Big Ag - farm equipment manufactures, chemical companies, the insurance business - are actively advertising the idea that Industrial Ag is the only choice to feed the planet (or paying educational institutions to teach that). However, Big Medicine, which also benefits from the current system, actually has the contrary evidence - increased cancer rates, increased obesity, increased auto-immune disease, increased inflammatory disease etc.

I am currently reading, What Your Food Ate - how to heal our land and reclaim our health, by David R Montgomery and Anne Biklé.  I'm not half way through yet, but they're quoting a *lot* of research about how nitrogen fertilizers decrease the trace minerals and important phytochemicals in food, and that this evidence has been around for 100 years.

They also state that organic farms are generally more financially viable, but also much smaller, so, yes, as Trace suggests, the current farming system which grows 1000 acres of wheat, will feed more people. However, many of those farmers have figured out that by alternating combine width rows of different crops, and leaving a width of cover-crop for beneficial insects and animals, they can still feed a lot of people while improving their own bottom line and at least slowing down the damage to the soil.

However, "permaculture" originated from the word "permanent". Most Industrial Ag is not permanent - in fact if you look at many of the headlines of the last 4 years, it may be fast becoming an endangered species. So I also propose that we need to rethink it, get "Big Business" out of agriculture, or at least change it's financial model, which currently makes a lot of money for people other than the farmers, at the expense of future harvests and sustainability.

Sometimes, there's too much invested in a word: "permaculture", "organic", "food forests", "market gardening". Sustainability is key and the attitude that making money for Wall Street Investors is the most important metric to evaluate everything in modern society is getting old fast. It's done world wide damage and it thinks on quarterly terms rather than Mother Nature's approach of working on 1000 year or 100,000 year scales or longer!
 
Beau Davidson
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Jay Angler wrote:Can Industrial Ag feed the increasing population? I vote that the people who directly benefit from Big Ag - farm equipment manufactures, chemical companies, the insurance business - are actively advertising the idea that Industrial Ag is the only choice to feed the planet (or paying educational institutions to teach that). However, Big Medicine, which also benefits from the current system, actually has the contrary evidence - increased cancer rates, increased obesity, increased auto-immune disease, increased inflammatory disease etc.



I think this is spot on for the refutation & elucidation of motives aspect.  Taking a (falsely assumed) given and turning it over as a question rightfully shifts the burden of proof.  I wonder if there is a way to craft language so that Purdue doesn't feel morally attacked, as complicit to the system.  
 
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I can and do go out in my yard and grow lots of food for myself without any gas-powered machines, chemicals or anything else remotely detrimental to the environment. I have no idea and no means of determining if my food is in fact more nutritious or otherwise superior to that available in the stores, except that, pretty much without exception mine tastes much better.

I can do that while leaving if anything a positive, rather than negative impact on the planetary biosphere.  Some of the reasons I can do that is because I own a few acres of land, reasonably biologically undamaged by its prior uses, and I know how.

There are however places in the world, New York City, Mexico City, Bejing, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Delhi, to name a few were hundreds, maybe thousands of people live crowded into smaller areas than I own.

So yes, industrial scale agriculture is the only way to feed the world. That leaves the question, is industrial scale agriculture possible without giant machines, huge areas of monoculture, chemicals, and all the rest? I don't know.

 





 
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I've heard the statistic bandied around enough that I suspect you all have too -- that we have around fifty harvests remaining before we've completely depleted our soil's capacity for production using the current methods. If that's really so, and I have no idea how to figure that out personally, but the experts seem convincing to me, then industrial ag can't, in fact, feed the growing population. If permaculture (or whatever...regenerative ag?) could deliver 1/2 the harvest but do so forever, that would be an astronomical win over what we have today.

And it's not the focus of this conversation but when this topic comes up, I always wonder why the population has to grow. Like, grow less food and we'll grow fewer people -- that could be made public policy if we decided to. But if we don't, every indicator suggests that the population growth rate will continue to decrease into the future, as it has been doing for fifty years, hopefully becoming negative at some point.
 
Beau Davidson
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Mark Reed wrote:So yes, industrial scale agriculture is the only way to feed the world. That leaves the question, is industrial scale agriculture possible without giant machines, huge areas of monoculture, chemicals, and all the rest? I don't know.



Fair enough.  City folks must eat.  But the way food is being grown is not optimized, regenerative, or sustainable.  As Jay articulated, the current model is not built to feed humans, but to extract economic incentives at the expense of health and ecosystems.

Substitute "the current model of industrial agriculture" for "industrial agriculture" if you like. But then, if you make an argument for mechanization and synthetics to be rendered obsolete by community and biodiversity, the word industrial starts feeling less appropriate, so it's kind of a moot point, isn't it?

Again, I'd like to build a tool, a document of compelling and persuasive language, rather than debate the need to build such a tool.
 
Casie Becker
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Actually I think finding better terms can go a long way towards helping here.  I usually say conventional agricultural and using the term unconventional for other methods follows naturally from that.  Neither term is inherently offensive or complimentary although there is some regional variation in that.

I work in a family company that is big business at the same time.  We're talking big enough to dominate Walmart in their industry for decades.  I see first hand that doing things on a large scale doesn't have to be done in an exploiting fashion. I don't think the world can be fed on a small scale, but there are unconventional methods that can do much better than what is commonly used.  

It is gaining traction.  I can now find fully pasture raised dairy products from Georgia I'm the regular stores in Texas.  That's two states that are historically slow to embrace change who are making unconventional into mainstream. Pastured chickens and there eggs showed up a few years ago.  Sorry this isn't a big help for vegans but both practices are worlds of improvement over the current norms.
 
Beau Davidson
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Someone sent me this contribution via another pathway.  It fleshes out who Purdue is, and Purdue's motivations pretty well.


I am not likely to provide the poetry, but here’s some of my philosophy about humans and what moves them.  People espouse theories that allow them to do what their soul wants to do… ideas follow and are fabricated to support and allow what an individual wants. People don’t necessarily own their motivations, but theoretically 93 % of our actions and speech are from our subconscious.  I wrote my master’s thesis on the idea that the unspoken message is far stronger than the spoken.  Now what can you possibly SAY to get that idea across.  It nearly destroyed me!  😂

It’s not really about fact and accuracy.  That’s why searching for the poetry idea appeals to me.

Purdue wants to belong, he went to a lot of trouble time and expense to become a Purdue graduate.  Probably and IMO, most of those folks would not have a difficult time changing their ideas if the whole gang were doing it together.  
Further, his area of expertise is industrial ag, and the belief (not fact) that industrial ag is the ONLY way, allows him a place and identity he likes.  He is caring, he is a hero, he has a role.  Who doesn’t want to be that guy?  If you try to convince him otherwise, he and his cohort, the millions who believe in industrial ag, will need to trade for some other means to have the same sense of gratification.  They, we, want to like and feel good about who we are.

Seems the poetry would need to (silently) speak to that.  He wants his humanitarianism to be recognized on a par with? Bill Gates? Mother Teresa?  Ghandi?

He’s as dedicated as we are, but he cares more about being conventional, and has put his faith in the establishment.  If he was open to seeing the evidence that lies before us all, he would have.  

 
Trace Oswald
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Beau Davidson wrote:
Again, I'd like to build a tool, a document of compelling and persuasive language, rather than debate the need to build such a tool.



I've never really found permies to be that kind of place.  You put an idea out, and you are most likely going to get a lot of responses in the vein of "instead of that, have you thought of this?".  It can be hard if you really want to speak to one very narrow specific topic, but it's awesome in that, it often takes you down a path you didn't think of, or gives you another point of view to consider.  I suspect it will always be that way, considering you have a bunch of people that tend to think unconventionally, and from so many different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures.  That said, I'll just read quietly from here on instead of distracting from what you want to focus on.
 
Beau Davidson
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Beau Davidson wrote:
Again, I'd like to build a tool, a document of compelling and persuasive language, rather than debate the need to build such a tool.



I've never really found permies to be that kind of place.  You put an idea out, and you are most likely going to get a lot of responses in the vein of "instead of that, have you thought of this?".  It can be hard if you really want to speak to one very narrow specific topic, but it's awesome in that, it often takes you down a path you didn't think of, or gives you another point of view to consider.  I suspect it will always be that way, considering you have a bunch of people that tend to think unconventionally, and from so many different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures.  That said, I'll just read quietly from here on instead of distracting from what you want to focus on.



Trace, I do welcome your continued participation, and I agree with your articulation of the permies discourse dynamic!  Already this thread has led us down pathways that have been beneficial.  I'm just trying to gently provide some bumpers to keep it moving in the direction of developing high-quality articulation of this stuff, rather than becoming a thread that may discourage people from talking about this stuff at all.  
 
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A picture is worth a thousand words: it would be helpful, it seems, to have pictures of farm soils today versus that of 40 years ago: check out NPR midwest farms have lost soil and Image of subsidence due to groundwater depletion due mostly to industrial ag
Another concern for me is that most of the crops that provide so much yield per acre (and with minimal employment provided) are not those that are so great for people to eat a lot of: corn, wheat, soy, ...

 
Jay Angler
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Trace Oswald wrote:

You put an idea out, and you are most likely going to get a lot of responses in the vein of "instead of that, have you thought of this?".


Beau Davidson's unnamed contributor:

the idea that the unspoken message is far stronger than the spoken


Beau Davidson wrote:

Taking a (falsely assumed) given and turning it over as a question rightfully shifts the burden of proof.



So how do you write an unspoken question??? This is getting more interesting every time I visit this thread. I'm *not* joking either - I think the concept of asking questions - like who benefits *and* what is the real benefit - for example the contributor suggests that what Purdue guy gets is a sense of belonging which is something much of current North American society is seriously lacking in. How do we help him shift to "belonging" to a new group and feel welcomed. If our particular group thinks what he's done is a really bad idea - shifting to us is bound to make him feel bad for doing damaging stuff, or maybe angry for being sold a bill of goods - but if he stays with his Purdue group, it's someone else's problem when the crops fail despite following what he was taught?

Paul Wheaton says in relation to his EcoScale that people more than a few levels above you appear to be crazy and people a few levels below can appear to you to be irresponsible. Sepp Holzer attended some sort of Ag College and started questioning what he was taught when he a) saw some things didn't work and b) saw ways that did work. I think having some really good examples of what got farmers questioning and changing and taking that *very first step* may be critical in your efforts. What might happen if you genuinely asked Purdue guy, "What would it take to get you to take one acre of your land and use it to build soil through polyculture for 3 years as an experiment?"

This becomes really important when one considers that there is no one right way. Many of those wonderful ideas I read about coming out of Australia just do not work on my heavy rocky/clay soil that's waterlogged all winter and droughty all summer. I haven't figured that out totally, but my most recent raised beds have darn fine black soil under dry leaf mulch! Something's working...
 
Beau Davidson
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I really like this.

Jay Angler wrote:I think having some really good examples of what got farmers questioning and changing and taking that *very first step* may be critical in your efforts. What might happen if you genuinely asked Purdue guy, "What would it take to get you to take one acre of your land and use it to build soil through polyculture for 3 years as an experiment?"

 
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If someone ever actually said to me that, "Industrial ag is the only way to feed the world,” I’d be delighted to actually have a conversation about this. Most people I know don’t really think about other options: they conform and eat what’s in the vending machine. To my thinking, permaculture and industrial ag are on a continuum: both have a place in our economy.

To encourage someone to consider integrating permaculture principles, I would chip away at the assumption that industrial agriculture actually feeds us.

Enlarge the meaning of the word “food” and permaculture becomes profoundly relevant: an antidote to the malaise that permeates contemporary culture. Permaculture feeds the world (not just humans) sustenance AND offers all beings food that makes life livable: beauty, learning, community, connection, autonomy, diversity, mutuality with fellow creatures, eco-justice, respect for the land and providers, security in knowing that future generations will thrive, physical health, succulent taste, life balance, fairness and so much more. Permaculture offers a life experience that addresses a far greater array of human needs than the industrial model. These are the talking points that appeal to me.
 
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Industrial ag is also the perfect way to create an unsustainably large and unhealthy population that will collapse the ecological foundations upon which it stands. Industrial ag is the perfect recipe for worst case scenarios involving mass famine on a scale unimaginable without the house of cards
it created.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:Trace Oswald wrote:

You put an idea out, and you are most likely going to get a lot of responses in the vein of "instead of that, have you thought of this?".


Beau Davidson's unnamed contributor:

the idea that the unspoken message is far stronger than the spoken


Beau Davidson wrote:

Taking a (falsely assumed) given and turning it over as a question rightfully shifts the burden of proof.



So how do you write an unspoken question??? This is getting more interesting every time I visit this thread. I'm *not* joking either - I think the concept of asking questions - like who benefits *and* what is the real benefit - for example the contributor suggests that what Purdue guy gets is a sense of belonging which is something much of current North American society is seriously lacking in. How do we help him shift to "belonging" to a new group and feel welcomed. If our particular group thinks what he's done is a really bad idea - shifting to us is bound to make him feel bad for doing damaging stuff, or maybe angry for being sold a bill of goods - but if he stays with his Purdue group, it's someone else's problem when the crops fail despite following what he was taught?

Paul Wheaton says in relation to his EcoScale that people more than a few levels above you appear to be crazy and people a few levels below can appear to you to be irresponsible. Sepp Holzer attended some sort of Ag College and started questioning what he was taught when he a) saw some things didn't work and b) saw ways that did work. I think having some really good examples of what got farmers questioning and changing and taking that *very first step* may be critical in your efforts. What might happen if you genuinely asked Purdue guy, "What would it take to get you to take one acre of your land and use it to build soil through polyculture for 3 years as an experiment?"

This becomes really important when one considers that there is no one right way. Many of those wonderful ideas I read about coming out of Australia just do not work on my heavy rocky/clay soil that's waterlogged all winter and droughty all summer. I haven't figured that out totally, but my most recent raised beds have darn fine black soil under dry leaf mulch! Something's working...



No one right way is one of my guiding principles!

I spent 2 hours answering this post when it was new, and I had no pie….

Now, I am in the last few days of preparing for the moving truck, and best not do that again.  The light at the end of the tunnel is not yet visible🤪

As for unspoken communication, I think Beau’s movie night is a perfect example of taking indirect action, and this conversation, where sometimes the effort  to stay on topic is visible.

And I agree questions are a key strategy.

IMO, lots of people really enjoy talking about what they do, what they believe, as long as the environment is encouraging and supportive and respectful and the questioner has genuine curiosity.  

The unspoken message there is respect…. I am probably not the only person who has tried to explain what I think or answer what I thought was a genuine question, only to find that information turned against me, the discussion turned into argument or debate or an attack.

If we get so lucky as to encounter an industrial ag believer we can question, then active listening is key to keeping the information flowing, and maybe the strongest disagreement would be something along the lines of “hmmm, I see that another way” or “wow, I am really curious about how that works”….

It’s really a lot easier to list the flaws in the theory, and the illogical conclusions, and the inanity of the idea that industrial ag can, has, does feed the world.
I gotta go!
Thanks for the pie😁
 
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Does anyone have any new fodder for the Permaculture Apologetic?  I've been working on other stuff, but this conversation has stayed at the back of my mind.

I've noted everyone's opinions about this endeavor not being worthwhile, so no need to try to convince me to abandon the task.  If you want, you can start a new thread to talk about better ways to go about this.  For me, I'm enjoying the thought excercise.  

I think Thekla's remarks are astute, in that a posture of humility and respect is key.  

Assuming that is in place, what key elements might move a conventional person to reevaluate their position?  

I think another way to put this is via the permaculture click.

Assuming you're living a post-click existence:
What were the contributing factors that culminated in your click?  What moved the needle for you - one big thing?  Lots of little things?  Can you remember a handful of instrumentals conversations or exposures?
 
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Hi Beau,
I have no idea about the permaculture “click”.  Not sure I have experienced that, so I don’t know if that will be a productive approach.  I guess that depends on the situation.

I have not stopped thinking about your question about Purdue ideology, nor the great conversation on this thread.  In another paradox, I think it’s near impossible to change someone, if that is your only objective, or your highest priority.

I’ve already said the thing about unspoken communication being stronger than spoken.  Now, I am thinking if my only interest in Purdue is in trying to change his mind, it just won’t get anywhere, because I don’t believe his belief is based in fact, science, or objectivity, AND, he’s never going to agree with me that that is so. So how can you have a rational conversation with an irrational entity?  That’s one for the riddle thread, and I only wish there was an answer!

There is an enigma here, and the more I try to describe what I see and believe, the wider the chasm opens between what I want to communicate and what I end up saying.

I’ve thrown away a lot of tries already, but here’s another.  I had a dentist most of my adult life.  His political views and mine were not complementary, but I was never at odds with him, because we saw the same problems, just had different ideas about how to fix them.  

I think before you can unite with others to solve a problem or address a situation, you have to agree on what the problem is.  

That may be a  way in with Purdue, looking for a definition of a problem you can agree on.

That’s my best for now.  I’ll be interested to know if you others can find something of value in it, or whether it’s just gobbledygook 😊




 
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I originally wrote this the day you posted the question, but lacked pie, but now have pie, and want to post.  I could edit this but don't have time.  Ah ha...that's part of the problem with this whole endeavor.  It takes so much time.

i think the answer is "it depends" as it so often is.  The consumer in the suit eavesdropping the conversation is not likely gonna care one way or the other once he reaches his cubicle, and Purdue paid too much to have his mind changed in the elevator.  The 10-second love story must be quickly fine-tuned by the crafty permaculturalist who has given enough long and thoughtful observation to the landscape of zombies (derogatory term for a group of people we actually deeply want to care about - alternative please?) to know which soundbite to pull from their own special bag of experiences that will appeal to the particular breed of zombie they are facing.  

I think that the argument of feeding the world can be reframed to fit the context that the first respondent mentions.  I think it's less about food produced per acre and more about food produced per human.  One of the tenants of permaculture, as taught to me by Brad Lancaster, is to replace Petroleum with People.  The deep implications of this statement are not lost on the earth-sensitive listener, but are quite possibly lost by the Consumer on the way to the cubicle, and trained out of Purdue.  One permaculturalist can feed their own family and perhaps their block with healthy food and less impact to the earth .  One conventional farmer can feed hundreds, with significant negative impact to people, place, and planet.  

I also think that conventional ag farmers are a distant (and misguided?) offshoot from what was probably once a very earth-focused practice.  The desire to develop technology outpaced the desire to eat healthy, and the individual farmer became less useful relative to the farmer that could feed the entire village.  (I guess).  I think the permaculture movement represents humans evolution back to a more meaningful existence.

I like the sound bite of replacing petroleum with people....but it is hard hard work.  But its happening.  Slowly.

And finally, I also agree with the post above that people create a belief system that allows them to do something they value. This is why a single formula or script is so difficult.  So, "it depends" is my answer.  



 
So I left, I came home, and I ate some pie. And then I read this tiny ad:
Native Bee Guide - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/wiki/140436/Native-Bee-Guide-FREE
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