This might be thread
stealing, but the title of your post struck a chord and makes me want to bring up a conversation topic for the permie community
I had an "a-ha" moment a week or so ago and realized that(to me) the problem is not "with" commercial agriculture, but rather, the problem "IS" commercial agriculture.
I came to this conclusion after protracted observation and interaction with the "sustainability" movement, and I guess the "patterns to details" principle was fresh on my mind as well.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that I think
"fixing" commercial agriculture is a type 1 error of sorts.
It is concluding that "commercial agriculture can be sustainable". when it fundamentally can't.
I'm really talking about commercial/industrial "anything", but let's focus on agriculture for the sake of the conversation.
The core reason for commercial agriculture's "sustainability failure" is it's connection to the dollar. I'm sure many here are aware that it is just "funny money".
But are we taking actions and drawing conclusions that recognize that reality?
If we are thinking holistically then the recognition that the dollar is fiat and is therefore the embodiment and tool for the control of people
is kinda important.
It is the unsustainable engine behind the system of our society.
Any notion of creating "sustainability" on an unsustainable foundation is no different that trying to fix the mast on a sinking ship.
And I don't want to get into monetary policy. That information is out there if people are willing to look and think critically.
What I want to get to is the recognition that there is a clear pattern behind why the sustainability
movement is not creating sustainability.
Why "organic agriculture" failed to solve environmental problems, and why "agro-ecology" will fail to solve them as well.
It's because all of these "solutions" are failing to recognize the destructive pattern that is an industrial(ie. commercial) system.
Don't get me wrong agro-ecology is noble and closes loops(part of me loves it), but it is just tools from the closed loop principles of connectivity(ie. ecology) designed to feed
into the industrial system of agriculture. Hence "agro-ecology". As I see it we are needing to move away from the "agro" and toward the "ecology" rather than just bringing in more of the "ecology" to "pretty up" the "agro"(ie. agriculture).
Even if the tomato
comes from the freakin "Garden of Eden" if it gets sold to a packing plant or to a supermarket distributor then it is feeding the beast.
Production on an industrial scale IS the problem. Production on an industrial scale IS agriculture.
This is the failure of systems like Mark Shepard
's and Joel Salatins. They didn't quite go far enough
. Trying to "save the world" by feeding as many people as possible is just "getting an addict its next fix". Even if you are growing perennials and the calories come cheaper and cheaper year after year. Even if your "factory" farmed chicken
lived on grass instead of cement. You are still pumping into a dying(ie. destructive) system of waste, scarcity, and externalized costs. Even if you grow trees
to re-forest half the continent you are still endorsing the dollar system, the clear-cutting of forests, and all things industrial.
I'm not suggesting anarcho-primitivism. I am just suggesting that the trend toward "sustainability" is logically to "scale down" rather than to "scale up"
Resiliency(and sustainability) lie in more farmers, and smaller farms.
And since this isn't a "black and white" issue I will qualify, that for me you are crossing into the (unsustainable)"industrial"/"agricultural" zone once you start trying to produce a single product for more than 50-150 people.
Basically, let's keep "Permaculture" and "agriculture" separate. Permaculture
is a tool to REPLACE agriculture, not a tool to "fix" it. I believe that was the intention behind the work of Holmgren and Mollison(especially if you get into chapter 14)
Love to hear your thoughts