Lately, I have been inadvertently immersed into the world of permaculture. My boss is also interested in doing sustainable farming and living off the grid and has been funneling various texts to me over the past few months. I am so grateful to have someone like that around and i am also grateful to be exposed to these texts.
The book that i am reading now is The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka. This book has been so inspiring to me for a number of reasons. Fukuoka has not only discovered amazing ways of growing healthy, organic foods, but he has lived sustaining himself on his own produce for over thirty years. More importantly though, is his vision. He was able to see that our world is in trouble because of business interests and mechanized agriculture or “big ag.” He made the important connection that these new and “improved” farming methods, only benefit one group of people, those that manufactured the chemicals and machines. Since Fukuoka lived in Japan during the world war II era, he was able to see, first hand, what the so called “modernization” of agriculture meant.
He watched as farming went from being in the hands of individual families throughout Japan (at up to 80% of the population) to farming being practiced on a large scale with only 10% of the population as farmers. The results in Japan have been the same as the results world wide in this regard–that is, total destruction. Water pollution, soil erosion and degradation, nutritionally void crops and produce laced with heavy metals at toxic levels.
Many people are feeling the effects of the industrial era. People are fatigued, dulled, angry, listless, bored, aggressive and dismal. Many people feel there is no reason to live and/or since we have destroyed so much of our environment that it is truly a lost cause and therefore they decide to further contribute to the downward spiral of health. Oddly enough, when i mention that the answer is probably just the fact that they are so far removed from reality and their means of living that they have become deeply dissatisfied and lost, and that the answer is going back to the land, growing food, living in small close knit communities and sharing, they look at me like i’ve lost my mind…or worse. They accuse me of being a Luddite or worse some sort of “confounded hippie.” In either case, it seems that farming has the stigma of being back-breaking, labor intensive and downright disagreeable work. And to this i respond with a question:
what is worse, working for the food that you will eat or working for money to buy food grown by others who do not care about you but only the money they will earn through you and therefore have no problem putting horrible chemicals into your food?
Fukuoka shows that growing your own food can be done on very little land and can be done without the intense labor that everyone squelches at. In fact, he shows that growing all of your own food using simple methods of no till, no compost, no chemicals and no machinery leaves a surplus of time for leisure…which is funny because whereas a farmer using these methods has about 2-3 months pure leisure time, the average working American has two days a week free time and maybe 1-2 weeks paid vacation.
The idea of so-called “comfort” has turned much of the first world into infinite loops of work–spend–repeat. People often never getting a chance to fully enjoy the toys that make their life “better.” In the end they end up enslaved by their possessions, addicted to the idea of having rather than satisfied with what cannot be made. If most people took the first step in removing themselves from their narrow perspective and experienced life in nature they would see for themselves that it is not difficult, scary or disagreeable. Perhaps, they would no longer wish to destroy the planet that provides food, shelter and life.
The following article is in this vein of thought, scientists are discovering that big agriculture will not lead us through another century, it is simply unsustainable–as short sighted as they greedy, money hungry mongers who created and perpetuate it.