industrial agriculture

A Quote by Michael Pollan on food, food supply, industrial agriculture, synthetic fertilizer, nitrogen, petroleum, and corn

Liberated from the old biological constraints. The farm could now be managed on industrial principles, as a factory transforming inputs of raw material – chemical fertilizer – into outputs of corn.  Since the farm no longer needs to generate and conserve its own fertility by maintaining a diversity of species, synthetic fertilizer opens the way to monoculture, allowing the farmer to bring the factory’s economies of scale and mechanical efficiency to nature.  If, as sometimes has been said, the discovery of agriculture represented the first fall of man from the state of nature, then the discovery of synthetic fertility is surely a second and precipitous fall.  Fixing nitrogen allowed the food chain to turn from the logic of biology and embrace the logic of industry.  Instead of eating exclusively from the sun, humanity now began to sip petroleum.

[Fritz Haber and the fixing of Nitrogen allowing synthetic fertilizer to be developed]

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 45

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on farm subsidies, monoculture, corn, agriculture, industrial agriculture, food, and food supply

Beginning in the fifties and sixties, the flood tide of cheap corn made it profitable to fatten cattle on feedlots instead of on grass, and to raise chickens in giant factories rather than in farmyards.  Iowa livestock farmers couldn’t compete with the factory- farmed animals their own cheap corn had helped spawn, so the chickens and cattle disappeared from the farm. and with them the pastures and hay fields and fences.  In their place the farmers  planted more of the one crop they could grow more of than anything else:  corn.  And whenever the price of corn slipped they planted a little more of it, to cover expenses and stay even.  By the 1980s the diversified family farm was history in Iowa, and corn was king.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 38

Contributed by: HeyOK

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