This is The ChangeUnderground for the week ending 1st of February 2021.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
A little foreshadowing as they say in the trade, I have a partnership announcement coming in the next few weeks. They’re currently dealing with a small tech issue, as we all do from time to time. The fit is great, the people are wonderful and their vision, truly inspiring. But more when we have our links set up and the venture is visible.
And big shout out to Dan in Switzerland for his duck based questions! Feedback is always welcome.
Way back on the first of February 2016, this podcast feed hit the interwebs. Yep, that’s five years ago. About twelve months ago, I had some doubts about carrying on with the podcast. A quick chat with Mre World Organic News convinced me there was more to do. During those twelve months I realised a name change was needed to better reflect the material I was presenting. Now as Mrs ChangeUnderground she reminded me of my doubts last year.
Who was to know then what 2020 had to bring? Certainly there were clues and we have seen those who took the virus seriously and early fared best. How the vaccines roll out in the face of an evolving virus will determine how soon we return to whatever will pass for normal.
As a species we have dodged a bullet in many ways. The lethality and transmission rates have been relatively low when compared to other pandemics. 30-70% mortality rates for the Black Death and a 50% death rate for Hendra virus. Not many of my non-Australian listeners will have heard of Henda and nor did it become a pandemic disease but it is a horrible virus. It’s named for the suburb of Hendra where it was first diagnosed. Endemic in native Flying Foxes, a type of fruit eating bat, the virus needs to travel through a horse to get to people. The horse exhibits signs of severe illness too so in this case it is veterinarians who are most at risk. On the whole with SARS CoV2 we got lucky but wow, the suffering this virus has caused should be sufficient for all of humanity to take these things seriously.
And it has highlighted some significant defects in our food systems. These will become clearer as time goes by. The toilet paper nonsense early last year is being replaced by, at present, small but growing shortages in fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s not much between us in Tassie and Antarctica to give you some idea of location and the only oranges available in our local supermarkets are being shipped from sunny California. We only discovered this when we started “Click and Collect” purchasing our groceries. These are picked by staff at the supermarket and we’d have gone without rather than encourage the transport of oranges halfway round the world. Equally they were pretty average oranges. Clearly they’d been in storage for a very long time. Half developed black discolouration and then mould within three days of purchase. We’ll stick to our strawberries, raspberries and the soon to be available blackberries. In another month apples will hit the menu and all these are within 50 metres of the kitchen, a far cry from Californie.
Our food systems, as a rule of thumb, need to be shortened. Food grown where possible, as close as possible to people who will eat it. I understand the wheat belts of the world will still exist but there are many food stuffs we can grow close to where they are consumed. I reckon we can grow a large amount of cereals close by too. Every village worthy of the name once had its own grain mill and that’s because grain was grown locally. We are now in a position to avoid local famines following localised crop failures with transport and wheat/corn/rice belts to cover the down periods. I think this movement to shorter supply lines is a trend we will see extended over the next few years with more people producing, at least some of their own food.
Looking back to episode 1 here’s a quote:
It is time to move our food production onto a more sensible footing. Food production based upon the needs of both our health and the health of the soil.
We’ve just come out of the International Year of Soils. [That was 2015] Soils we all depend upon. A thin layer between the bedrock and the air is what feeds us. That thin layer and the fact it rains on Earth is the reason we have food to eat.
We must move away from oil and poison based food systems for our good and the good of the soil. To do this we don’t need to live like medieval peasants grubbing in the dirt to create a tiny surplus. We don’t need to fear the spectre of famine. Humanity has developed better ways of growing food. Ways which do not include poison, do not require cross species creations and that do not use more calories of energy to grow than they produce. We need to take the machinery out of food production and put more people into it.
We need to shorten our supply lines. To move from monocultures of corn and soybean to localised polycultures of vegetables, fruit, meat and fish.
There you go, We must move away from oil and poison based food systems for our good and the good of the soil. Indeed.
During the last five years Monsanto has been successfully prosecuted in the civil courts in the US, many countries are starting the roll back glyphosate and I now live in hope of it being banned completely. Adding to DDT, 245T and the organochlorines and organophosphates as ideas that should never have seen the light of day and are now banned.
To paraphrase the last five years:
Grow food at home, share it with your friends, family and community. Grow it the no-dig way and you’ll be sequestering carbon. Be kind to the soil, keep it covered, and it’ll love you back with produce that’s just like grandpa used to grow.
And while we and others are growing our food in our no-dig gardens we will be: Decarbonising the air, recarbonising the soil!
Thank you all for listening for part or all of these five full yet really quickly passing years and I’ll be back next week!
The ChangeUnderground Academy No-Dig Gardening Course: