The monikers ‘industrial’ and ‘organic’ are not mutually exclusive, but their competing advocates can make it seem so. There is a distinction based on size of the farm and the origin of fertilizers and pest and weed controls. Both methods aim to feed the world’s people. Stereotypically, industrial does it through the economies of scale, manufactured fertilizers, and chemical pest and weed control. Stereotypically, organic does it with small, intense plots and using fertilizers, amendments, and controls from plants and animals that live on site. It turns out that both are right, and in some ways both are wrong. Both are needed, each in its own space, for its own region. It makes sense to have massive mono-cultures for mass distribution, and it makes sense to grow food locally that will be consumed locally. The question is less about which is better in general, and more about which is better for each region. The bigger problem may be controlling the industrial drive to gain as much market share as possible and to let local growers grow locally without pressure from outside.
“Both sides here are right in their own way. The Ecomodernists are right in an abstract, thought-experiment way: We could grow more food on less land if every farm were as big and efficient as those in the U.S. Monbiot is right in a pragmatic, best-next-steps way: In reality, the path to higher yields starts with farms getting smaller, rather than larger. ” – Grist
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