petroleum

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

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