Masanobu Fukuoka was a pioneer of a very different type of farming. He advocated no-till farming, and i'm super excited to have gotten an electronic copy of his book from a holistic agriculture library at soilandhealth.org.
I have to share a quote i picked up on wikipedia:
...if modern agriculture continues to follow the path it's on now, it's finished. The food-growing situation may seem to be in good shape today, but that's just an illusion based on the current availability of petroleum fuels. All the wheat, corn, and other crops that are produced on big American farms may be alive and growing, but they're not products of real nature or real agriculture. They're manufactured rather than grown. The earth isn't producing those things... petroleum is!
Masanobu Fukuoka, Mother Earth News interview, 1982
I don't know if petroleum alone is the source of fertilizers and pesticides, but it is at least partially what they are manufactured from. Maybe he is also referring to fuels needed to run tractors on?
The statement reminds me of something stated in the Corporation movie. Someone made the analogy between modern capitalism and an attempt at flight. An aviation pioneer had taken a plane off of a very high cliff and the air was blowing by. He believed he was flying, but it was only an illusion because the cliff was so high. Capitalism, too, appears to be working because the resources of this planet are so vast. But thinking that capitalism in its current form works is a false illusion. It is fundamentally unsustainable, and if it continues to be practiced, will lead to a disastrous end. I believe that disastrous effects are already seen everywhere, in many forms, whether it's food shortages, global warming, loss of biodiversity, and the loss of fundamental humanness and creativity and kindness to each other.
At any rate, if there is to be an end to this disastrous decline, it must come from a return to sanity. I know that my aversion to technological advances isn't completely right, but I feel that the vast majority of inventions, of scientific discoveries have hurt us more than helping us. For every new invention, accompanying problems are soon discovered. We think we have improved on nature by air-conditioning our dwellings, and yet we soon discover that power grids are in peril and our air is polluted by coal-burning power plants.
I even think that new green technology (solar power) will eventually be found to have some serious problems, whether it is in the products and energy used to manufacture them, or in the electromagnetic radiation they might produce, or something. Even though they're considered green (and I would certainly choose them over a nuclear plant or a coal burning plant) they are unnatural on some level. In the end I think the best solution would be yes, let's do wind and solar energy. But let's also stop using appliances that suck far too much energy. I guess another good research project for myself would be looking into the usage of different appliances. Creating heat from electricity tends to be very energy intensive, so dryers, toasters, electric stoves, hot water heaters, electric kettles, and space heaters take up a lot of electricity. Are there lower-energy alternatives? Clotheslines are easy. Toasters? I don't know a good alternative. Solar water heaters work--I don't know how expensive they are but they save a LOT of energy. I think low-tech models have been made by resourceful individuals. Perhaps my husband will invent one for us one day.
Speaking of energy efficiency, I live in an apartment that is incredibly warm all winter, where we can't control the heat. Well, except by opening the windows. Terrible energy use. So it's not like I am scolding. It's hard to make these things better.
I think I am going to continue my ramble just a little further.
From my own experience, the greatest obstacle to being kinder to our planet is the fact that we are all in such a hurry all the time. At my job, we throw away plastics rather than recycle--probably because we don't have the time to sort. Just a little time is needed, but we are so busy we don't take that time. (At least some Canadians recycle their fast food trash.) Another example--I live in a great little town that is probably 10 blocks wide each way. But how often am I in too big of a rush to walk to the store, the library, so i drive instead?
Many of us don't have time to grow vegetables, which would benefit us, our communities, our environment, and the planet. I wish we could just slow down enough to hang our clothes on the line, tend our vegetables, cook our meals, walk instead of drive somewhere. It would be an eco-revolution of peaceful, mindful choices, of less, and maybe somewhere in our slowed-down life we'd find more time to be gentle and concerned about our neighbors.
The faster, more stressed out our lives are, the more the corporations have us just where they want us, with no time to thoughtfully make the best choices for ourselves and the planet. We are just trying to survive from day to day.
The thing that really excites me about these thoughts is that while rushing is the exact thing that is wrong with our society, it is also amazing that the benefits to slowing down go far beyond the ecological.
Going more slowly allows us to experience God, our families, nature, and our selves. It allows us to experience life as we were intended to experience it. The rushing life of hyper-consumerism is one that will destroy our humanness, our relationships with old people, children, friends and spouses. But choosing to take the slow path is a way to return to truth, peace, awareness, beauty, and enriched relationships.
The price we pay is convenience, but I think that for the most part convenience is a lie sold to us by companies desperate for us to spend money on gadgets.
To return to Masanobu Fukuoka. This man died August 18 of this year, not long after I discovered him, via a blog post by keri smith. I feel like he reaffirms my growing belief that many things that are too hard and too complicated and too expensive are hard and complicated and expensive because they involve us fighting against nature, against the perfect way God created the world to function.
"Natural farming is not just for growing crops, it is for the cultivation and perfection of human beings."
I am looking forward to learning from this book.