Can Rebulding Local Food Systems Help Promote Renewable Energy?
by Philip Ackerman-Leist, originally published by Post Carbon Institute | Apr 29, 2013

This is part 2 of our serialization of Chapter 4 (Energy) from the latest Resilience guide, “Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable & Secure Food Systems“. This excerpt looks at some areas where small to mid scale farming might have the edge.

Read Part 1

Farming is about energy flows. “Food production” is about a terminal point in the act of agriculture.

As soon as we begin using the word “farming” again, all of the implicit associations with farming begin to reemerge in our shared thoughts and language—planting and harvesting seasons, the cumulative wealth of generations, the farmscape, the role of farms within the community. Suddenly, place, time, and the stewardship of inherited traditions all start to become important again. We can quantify production, but we can qualify farming. That is to say, we can instill it with values, not just interpret it through metrics.

These days, when we attribute values that we think define good ecological farming practices, we generally tend to speak of “sustainable farming.” Sustainable farming is the careful management of energy flows, not just to get to one final product at the end of a season but to ensure that those energy flows allow for a regenerative use of the land far into the future. What better way to think about food and farming than through a pie chart? Figure 4-4 clearly depicts the sticky fingers in the energy pie at this point in time. It’s obvious: we are overly dependent upon photosynthesis that occurred millions of years ago to fuel the growth of our modern farms through fossil fuels. It’s also worth noting that fertilizer and pesticide production is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, not just for powering the manufacturing process but as primary components for many of those products. …(read more).

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