Feed grain to herbivores, pesticides to monocultures, chemicals to soil, chicken to fish, and all along agribusiness has simply asked, “If we’re feeding more people more cheaply, how terrible could that be?” That’s been the motivation, it’s been the justification: it’s been the business plan of American agriculture. We should call it what it is: a business in liquidation,a business that’s quickly eroding ecological capital that makes that very production possible. That’s not a business, and it isn’t agriculture.
Our breadbasket is threatened today, not because of diminishing supply, but because of diminishing resources. Not by the latest combine and tractor invention, but by fertile land; not by pumps, but by fresh water; not by chainsaws, but by forests; and not by fishing boats and nets, but by fish in the sea.
Want to feed the world? Let’s start by asking: How are we going to feed ourselves? Or better: How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself? To do that, don’t look at the agribusiness model for the future. It’s really old, and it’s tired.It’s high on capital, chemistry and machines, and it’s never produced anything really good to eat. Instead, let’s look to the ecological model. That’s the one that relies on two billion yearsof on-the-job experience.
Look to Miguel, farmers like Miguel. Farms that aren’t worlds unto themselves; farms that restore instead of deplete; farms that farm extensively instead of just intensively; farmers that are not just producers, but experts in relationships. Because they’re the ones that are experts in flavor, too. And if I’m going to be really honest, they’re a better chef than I’ll ever be. You know, I’m okay with that, because if that’s the future of good food, it’s going to be delicious.