Sunday, March 27, 2016
Sunday Reading - The Search for True Sustainability
I really don't know why I do this to myself but it happens over and over again. I get interested in some comment somewhere on the web about "true carbon farming" or "Low impact Sustainability" this or that, only to end up wasting hours on yet another facade. Generally the writer of said comment means well when they put some link up to a paper published by yet another yuppy PHD on battling soil erosion, carbon sinking and other nice key words like "efficiency to redundancy" etc. They talk about food to fork sharing programs, reduced carbon foot prints, organic this and that and then speak in flowery terms about some model farm nestled in the foot hills of beautiful mountain range X that just happens to reside close to mega-city Y with hallowed halls State university Z nearby. Etc.
A bit more research will show model pictures on a professionally built website with all kinds of chatter about events, tours, all the myriad of animals with children petting the new babies and ultimately a products page listing fruits, vegetables and other products for sale. Next to these products in italics it almost always says "out of stock" or "Seasonal only".
Other pictures show brand spankin new John Deere tractors with implements behind them that still have all the sparkling new paint gleaming in the sunlight. Young college age boys smiling as they sit on the tractor while trim suntanned co-ed girls carry baskets of goodies that appear to have been freshly washed under the grocery store mist stations.
At this point I start really digging. Ignore the name of the farm. Ignore the other key words and start looking for grants under hidden investor names, universities and other programs. Run searches on under grad and PHD students in the ag departments of the local mega universities and it's funny how many of these smiling farm workers are also research students there. Hmmmmmm.
Look for USDA grants in the millions of tax payer dollars and the story becomes more and more into focus.
Carbon neutral? They are about as carbon neutral as the F-350 duelly Diesel work truck with the twin smoke stacks and 1000 pound tool box I had to run a wheel alignment test on yesterday. In fact most of the money used to fund this college party workfest farm came from the sweat of truck owners just like that 350. With a bit of burrowed cash to top it off as well.
The interns are paying to work there at the tune of $800.00 a credit hour. The dirty work is being done by minimum wage migrants being paid out of the grants and the equipment is likely donated for advertising or tax write off purposes. The techniques they champion may or may not actually work as these people have become so adept at data manipulation one can never be sure but it's a fact they haven't followed the true carbon footprint from beginning to end to get there regardless. No mention of the metals used in the irrigation system, fuel transport costs from mining to manufacture or maintenance of the system as a whole.
Looking at the pictures of the actual crops produced and just generally running some numbers comes out to $50.00 Tomatoes and $25.00 Squash just to pay the labor over head you see in the field. Again more than likely a donation write off to some restaurant also connected to the university in some way.
If I had to bet on it that is....
I still keep looking however. Perhaps someday some PHD will come up with an economically viable trick we can use. Until then I find the best way to reach sustainability is to look backwards and see how it was done before the government began subsidizing everything.
So far I haven't seen those old technique beaten.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!