This quarter has changed my appreciation of food forever. There are some things that I will never take for granted again, like the virtual water content of my produce, or the suffering endured to bring chocolate to my home, or the relationship of soil and water to my earthly being. As I prepare my meals I try to be considerate of the energy and labor used to produce my foods, and I attempt to honor that energy by reducing waste, reducing over-consumption, and elevating the ingredients with mindful cooking.
I do wonder about the future of food. There are so many variables to the paths that lay ahead, that even the best intentions may not be met without comprehensive reform to global systems that will require enormous political will. I also wonder about agricultural products and industries that feel somewhat optional, like hops for the beer industry or other agriculture for alcohol production. The tobacco industry alone uses 4.2 million hectares of productive land worldwide. That is over 10 million acres of land used on a product that is considered poisonous and addictive. Whereas the poppy industry in Afghanistan is partially prolific due to the growing conditions being ripe for the plant, tobacco is grown in land that is fertile for many other purposes. The tobacco industry may need to become obsolete simply to keep feeding people. Other unnecessary agriculture will soon have to follow, unless opportunities are created to grow these crops as part of larger polycultural farms.
Finally I have hope for mainstream, modern people to become growers of food. Many articles can be found regarding the coming changes regarding artificial intelligence and machines taking more jobs than ever out of the hands of humans. The dilemmas facing society in regards to a large population without work stirs conversations about minimum federal incomes and such, but this may be exactly what small scale agriculture needs. The work and purpose of these unemployed individuals should be to grow food. Grow their own food, grow food for others, grow anything they can and keep trying. If the robots truly take over, we can all spend more time cultivating our gardens and growing more food for all.
Tobacco field – https://www.pinterest.com/source/heirloomtobacco.com/
Greenhouse – DeVault, Melanie. “Real Tales of High Value Farming,” Rodale Institute. 2003. http://www.newfarm.org/columns/george_devault/2003/0603/scottkutzner.shtml