Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monoculture and the American Table

Monocultural farming techniques helped to create successful civilizations throughout history.  The beginnings of  single crop agriculture are associated with increased population and the ability to produce more food with fewer hours of labor allowing surplus for storage and to process large quantities of  baked goods, beer and wine.  However, monocultural farms do have serious disadvantages, and have many cautionary examples that show exactly how growing a single favored crop leaves a civilization vulnerable to compromised food supply.  Growing a singular genetic stock in a sight specific manner has lead to instances of crop loss due to blight, drought, flood, or infestation and our modern hubris derived from a much better scientific understanding of botany and genetics does not make us immune from the potential consequences of single crop agricultural practice.  I support science and do not have any health concerns over consuming genetically modified foods.  I do however have many concerns over patented genetic seed stock and the vulnerability of our food supply to the ever adapting food crop pests.  Evolution never sleeps.

My biggest concern is the limited dietary selection that will inevitably result from a focus on the shelf life, shippability, and consumer taste demands on the determination of which crops should be grown.  Although these considerations are all valid and important considerations to the agribusinessman there needs to be a way for the average person to grow and deliver varieties of produce the family table.  The most viable way to do this in my opinion is to adopt a philosophy of maximizing the productivity of ones own micro-agricultural spaces.

Biodiversify  your own space and protect yourself against the inevitable problems of large scale single crop farming.


  1. "Evolution never sleeps." Brilliant!

  2. And that is exactly why we grow as many of the 'heritage' crop foods we can. Besides just preserving the variety, since they are the older species, they have proven germination values, more robust flavors (opinion there, I know), and it is kinda neat knowing that I am eating the same crops grown by Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and Carver. Hybrids, to me, just don't TASTE as good.

  3. Heritage crops are excellent and good for seed saving and replanting as the seeds do not have self destruct mechanisms built into the DNA like many bioengineered crops do.