Agriculture: The faults in the conventional system.
Normal agribusiness provision of food is one of the most faulty systems in consumer-capitalist society. Consider the following comparisons with home gardening and small farm local food production.
Š Agribusiness involves huge quantities of energy use; in machinery, fertilizers, transport, warehouses, packaging, “marketing”, pesticides, bureaucracies, dealing with wastes. Much food is transported half way around the world, (…to where local fruit trees are being pulled out.) Energy goes into supermarket floodlighting and refrigeration.
Š Agribusiness creates vast waste, which cannot be recycled (the feedlots are a long way from the fields, the consumers are on another continent) and thus needs to be dealt with via energy-intensive systems, and damages ecosystems.
Š Artificial fertilizers are applied, damaging soils and ecosystems; acidification and nitrogen flows are major global problems, and soil carbon levels are depleted by ploughing. Nutrients are not returned to the soils; agriculture is thus “soil mining.”
Š There is large scale abuse of animals, e.g., in battery egg production, intensive pig raising.
Š Many chemical additives are needed, e.g., to keep disease levels down in crammed battery hen sheds and piggeries, to preserve foods for long shelf life, to colour and augment taste.
Š Profit is maximized by growing only the few highest yield varieties, resulting in the massive loss of plant biodiversity.
Š Nutritional quality and taste are of no concern to agribusiness. Values that maximize profit include appearance, toughness to survive long transportation and packaging, and absence of blemishes (meaning specked fruit can’t be marketed.) The result is dramatic reduction in quality, evident in tasteless supermarket fruit and especially tomatoes.
Š Conventional food supply involves huge numbers of expensive people in suits with degrees, sitting at computer screens, with expertise in finance, personal relations, logistics, engineering, bio-chemistry… Home gardening and small local farming avoids just about all of that, and enables ordinary people to be excellent food producers.
Š Agribusiness involves borrowed capital and thus interest payments at all levels. Costs at one level include interest payments at the previous level, leading to perhaps 40% of the price paid by
Š Agribusiness destroys rural life. Big corporations undercut local costs and farmers and rural towns are eliminated, especially in the Third World.