Sustainable Ways to Feed the World are Subverted by Corporations




Humans’ relationship to food is one of the most fundamentally shaping aspects of our societies. The sole fact that the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban centers is the direct result of a process that began approximately 10,000 years ago. This process was the switch from nomadic hunting-gathering societies to urban sedentary ones. In fact, formal agriculture is the only means whereby an urban society can sustain itself, its population can increase size and its density, and complex societal interactions can develop from an urban context. It could be argued that behind the entire construct of capitalism, as becoming sheltered and sedentary allowed our societies to develop an affection for material objects, lies formal agriculture.


The industrial revolution, and in particular the “green revolution” of the 1960s and 70s, once again changed the way that our global society relates to food. This time, the development of technologically complex and energy intensive industrial food systems were created, giving us the ability to produce unthinkable amounts of food. This food industry largely relies on massive monocultures that require an ever-increasing input of fossil-fuel by-products such as fertilizers and pesticides. The current food industry’s dependence on petrochemicals has allowed for massive agricultural conglomerates and corporations effectively to develop and control the majority of the world’s food production. This will become particularly problematic when already dwindling petrol supplies will first increase the price of food, a phenomenon that is already occurring in much of the world, and eventually will make industrial agriculture economically non-viable.

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