Misguided Do-Goodism

From my iPhone, while I was nursing, I typed this mini-note: Bill & Melinda Gates, GMO crops 40% jump in ps rate.

What that referred to was the apparently ground-breaking development of plants that are 40% more efficient at photosynthesizing. The implications for increased crop yields without increasing crop land area seem clear.

Yet we don’t know what we don’t know. Already nutrient values in crops have been declining along with soil quality for the last 80 years, since the advent of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in the 1940s. And the rise in atmospheric CO2 has been linked with declining food nutritional value. So what does an increase in photosynthetic rate mean? At a glance, I’m going to surmise it means: lower nutritional value per unit mass. That means: higher yields, lower quality. More profits, less value. Consumer-ready tools like Dan Kittredge’s nutrient metre will be more valuable than ever; as will relationships between farmers and consumers, and both having an understanding of the contribution of soil health and biodiversity to crop quality and nutrient content.

We produce enough, but distribute it badly: thousands (millions) of tons of produce gone to waste every year, because it doesn’t make it to market on time, or meet standardized metrics for Grade A produce; or because the market is saturated. Food that could go to feed secondary consumers, such as pigs, chickens, black soldier fly larvae, ducks, rabbits, and other sources of quality protein, for either animal or human consumption. We fail to stack our productive enterprises: we raise animals on one section of land, and fruit trees on another, rather than using one to supplement the health, well-being and nutrition of the other.

I have so many ideas for enterprises around these things it makes my brain hurt, and makes it hard to get started. Today:

Boney Mountain Permaculture? Eco-Ag Consulting? Regenerative Agriculture Planning? It’s always most difficult to select the right subtitle for a business name. This will be our vehicle for education, installations, and minor product sales of produce from clients’ and our own sites. The Chumash history around Boney Peak is appealing and relevant, too; one account cites his ancestors looking down from the peak onto the grazing lands of Conejo and Hidden Valleys, and praising them for their suitability to the mammoth and other prehistoric animals they hunted.

Hydrolixir, or Hydrolix: of COURSE both great names are taken; Hydrolixir was registered as a trademark name just a year ago… almost to the day. But the idea was for a zero-waste drink company that could pop up at events and not only sell rehydration drinks flavoured with permaculturally-grown herbs, vegetables and fruits, but also provide education on water, water bottles, waste production, permaculture, and other aspects of water-related issues.

But really, we do all need to start building something as livelihood; contributing in some way, and sharing what we’ve done and do, and learning to do more; and finding ways to become less and less reliant on a paycheque and a regular earning to keep ourselves. The first directive of permaculture is, after all, “To take responsibility for ourselves and our family”.

Also, though, I wildly digressed… I’d meant to comment on how many of these big-ticket solutions are not really solutions at all, and often cause more problems than they solve or (and) solve problems that could more easily be reversed if we had a clearer understanding and appreciation for how we created them in the first place.

But that will have to stand for another post, I guess.

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