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Farming (pt. 2)

September 2009

A farmer defends industrial farming practices. Another farmer responds. Some great debate happening, there. From the latter:

The sustainable-food movement needs to step up and start grappling with big questions. I’ve said for a while that I see three big challenges for the sustainable-food movement as it scales up: 1) soil fertility—in the absence of synthesized nitrogen and mined phosphorous and potassium, how are we to build soil fertility on a larger scale?; 2) labor—sustainable farming requires more hands on the ground; who’s going to work our farm fields, and at what wages?; and 3) access—in an economy built on long-term wage stagnation, how can we make sustainably grown food accessible to everyone?

Hurst’s essay begins to engage these questions—sort of. I don’t have the time or energy right now to take it on point by point. But I will say that the discussion would be much richer if he acknowledged a few serious questions about the industrial-farming model he champions.