My oldest nephew is getting married this summer. We have to work to build a better world for them to raise their family in.
Just received a copy of Raj Patel’s Stuffed & Starved (more on that later). I’m on page 93 and I’ve only bounced it off the wall twice. Anyway the book led me to his blog which led me the website of a network of groups searching for alternatives to pesticide and herbicide uses.
Myth #1: Pesticides are necessary to the feed the world
Reality: The most comprehensive analysis of world agriculture to date tells us that what can feed the world — what feeds most of the world now, in fact — is smaller-scale agriculture that does not rely on pesticides.
In 2009 one quarter of US grain crops went to ethanol distilleries. That 107 million tons of grain was enough to feed at least three hundred million people for a year. Livestock consumes nearly half the soybeans and almost two thirds of the corn produced in this country. When you factor in the water, fertilizer and transportation costs to get fodder crops to the feedlots the system operates at a significant loss. A loss in that far more calories go into producing a calorie of beef than if we just ate the food ourselves.
Most home gardeners know that it’s a good idea to move your plants around if you can and that certain plants seem to be made to grow next to each other. Tomatoes and basil are excellent companion plants. On the other hand pesticide and herbicide use encourages monocropping and discourages rotating crops. After a few years planting corn or soy season after season you might as well hang a sign that says “Eat at Joe’s” because every pest in the county is going to be heading your way. As of 2008 some experts estimate that crop losses in corn crops have increased from 3.5% to 12% even though uses of pesticides, including organophosphates, have increased nearly 1,000% since the end of WWII. We aren’t quite at the point where the bugs can be found laughing hysterically as the poison is applied to the slowly dying land, but we’re getting closer and closer.