David Barsamian of Z Magazine recently interviewed Helena Norberg-Hodge, the founder of the International Society for Ecology and Culture. When questioned about “alternative agriculture” she had this to say:
“I think there is a systemic alternative that is being discovered and actually developed at the grassroots. But this alternative, which is a systemic shift toward localizing economic activity instead of globalizing it, has received almost no air time. It’s a sort of invisible growth, but it’s happening nevertheless. Fundamentally, what that shift is about is recognizing that this global economic system has its roots from 500 years ago, when elites in the UK and Europe started sending people across the world to gather wealth for themselves.
Structurally, they were destroying more self-reliant, localized economies where people were meeting their own needs and producing a range of things for home and regional needs. Trade was in the hands of smaller communities and groups exchanging with each other. When they were forced into the mines or onto giant cotton, sugar, coffee, and tea plantations, there was a shift towards not only an economy that was very exploitative and unjust, but also ecologically unstable because monocultural production inherently works against the diversity of the natural world. Diversified production in localized economic systems works with nature.”
We are continuously reminded by Big Agriculture that more food = better. Yet, the industrialized approach to agriculture that has been adopted in the US is not only affecting the nutritional value of the food produced here, it’s also impacting once self-reliant economies around the world. The excess of food is actually undermining global communities that used to meet their own needs. As Norberg-Hodge goes on to argue, local agriculture is really the only feasible approach to feeding the world.
You can read the full interview here.