Breathing, drinking and eating are found at the base of our pyramid of needs. However complex and finely structured our society may be, no one can get around the basic principles of metabolism. And so the history of humankind can also be told as the history of human food procurement, from hunting and gathering to herding and moving on and finally to agriculture as we still find it today as an ideal type in the picture book. Social and technical progress can perhaps also be measured by the proportion of people who are primarily engaged in food production. Industrialised agriculture produces incredibly efficiently from this point of view. The tools show us what other perspectives are possible on our current form of food procurement.
At first glance, agriculture is the epitome of renewability. Year after year we can reap the benefits of nature's generous harvest. However, upon further inspection it becomes apparent that our agriculture would not even reach the sowing stage without the
and non-renewable resources. Agricultural machines need diesel, phosphate deposits are exploited for fertilizers, while asparagus, strawberries and lettuce grow under plastic foils or in heated and artificially lit greenhouses before being finally flown to us.
Due to the current compartmentalization of agriculture, natural cycles are disrupted, at first on a per-farm basis, gradually in entire regions and now on a global scale. However, the
is not affected. As a result, a shortage of nutrients in the fields must be compensated by mineral fertilizers, which are a finite resource. Simultaneously, entire areas of Lower Saxony in Germany are being literally flooded with nutrient-rich liquid manure as a result of intensive pig breeding for the global market, causing one of the highest nitrate levels in the EU and thus endangering the water supply.
is a 3-in-1 offer to deal with your frustration: comfort shopping, comfort eating and one more really exciting toy. Depression then becomes a piece of cake and a depression is replaced by eternal bliss … However, it won’t be; at least not until you seriously deal with the conditions and consequences of industrial agriculture and livestock.
More and more people have started gardening to get a little piece of nature in the city. High biodiversity characterizes the various urban gardening projects, inner-city parks, and fallow areas. Last but not least, urban beekeepers collect honey from their urban hives, which shows the resilience and potential of urban spaces. The cities are therefore acting as small
of monoculture and pesticides, which has long only spared what could be sold.
Historically, malnutrition has been the norm for much of humankind, and for many it still is today. Access to sufficient food is, however, one of the decisive prerequisites for political participation and thus an important
- especially when the abundance of the Global North is at the expense of poverty in the Global South. This discrepancy in wealth is one of the things enabling Germans to spend only 14 % of their income on food, a far cry from today’s global average of around 40 %.
Solidary agriculture (SolAg) is currently experiencing an upswing. Individual consumers are joining forces to cover the costs of running a farm. As a result, producers no longer compete for the lowest price on a global scale for standardised products; rather, prices are negotiated with consumers in the Solidary Agriculture movement. Consumers and producers thus leave their respective
in order to create a different form of agriculture in solidarity, which is oriented towards the needs of all participants and usually takes into account the natural resource cycles.
in the field of agriculture go back more than 10,000 years, during the time when the first wild plants and animals were being domesticated. Today's cultivated plants thus have a cultural history that has led to an almost unbelievable variety through breeding. These varieties differ in size, colour and taste, but also in terms of their requirements for water, sun, soil quality and warmth. Today, depending on the crop, up to 90% of hybrid varieties are sown. These optimised varieties are the result of crossbreeding and are only particularly high-yielding in their first generation. New seed must therefore be purchased for the next sowing season - these varieties are therefore also particularly profitable for plant breeders.
In the Chinese region of Sichuan, pesticides have been used to such a large extent that insects have nearly become extinct. Since the 1980s, farmers in Sichuan have been doing the work of bees by pollinating the orchards by hand. It should not be surprising that in Europe, individual insect species also become extinct, seeing as pesticides have reduced insect biomass by 80% since 1970. The consequences are unpredictable, but there is a modern solution in the works. Pollinator drones are already being developed and despite purportedly solving one crisis, are continuing to perpetrate
. However, not all insects will be mechanically replaceable, and it is not yet certain whether the extinction of insects is desirable at all.
Glyphosate is contained in the chemical product "Roundup", used extensively in agriculture to kill weeds. The exact effect of glyphosate on human and animal organisms is not known. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the substance as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. Since then, the approval of glyphosate in agriculture has been the subject of controversy, with both sides presenting studies and meta-studies to prove the harmfulness or harmlessness of the substance. Scientific objectivity and clarity are visibly disappearing, and everyone hears the
most clearly when the findings correspond to their own interests.
We have become accustomed to fully-stocked fruit and vegetable stands regardless of the season, meat and dairy products in 100m long refrigerated units, and a full selection at the bakery shortly before closing time. However, this imperial lifestyle in the Global North is not universal - instead, we enjoy this wealth at the detriment of those who are already suffering the consequences of this lifestyle without even partaking in it: the
are open, and spreading even wider in the Global North.
Pre-industrial forms of agriculture are characterised by a diverse, small-scale use of land: meadows for forage production are interspersed with cropland and areas for fruit and vegetable cultivation. Even parallel land usage, such as orchards that are also used as grazing pastures, is widespread. This is a prerequisite for biodiversity, as wild plants and animals are able to find enough food year-round. However, with the advent of industrialised agriculture, these small paradises on earth are quickly disappearing. Instead of deserts composed of sand and boulders, Midas, the
creates monoculture, which uses pesticides to transform entire regions into deserts in which nothing but wheat, corn and sugar beet can survive. Therefore, it should not be surprising that city beekeepers now have a greater variety of flowers in their honeys than beekeepers in the countryside.
Throughout the past 100 years, agriculture in Europe has undergone fundamental changes due to technical and biochemical development, and each year another step of the
is climbed. Fewer and fewer people are producing ever-increasing amounts of food thanks to agrotechnology ‘advancements’ such as modern seeds, huge amounts of highly effective fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the mechanization of agricultural operations. However, mechanization calls for large investments, which is in turn magnified by the demand for greater machine size due to their greater harvesting capacity, speed, and efficiency, which drives the need for even more investments, which only pay off when everything is running at full capacity. This has led, for example, to the average size of farms in Germany doubling from 30 hectares in 1991 to 62 hectares in 2017.
Fertile farmland is a valuable, unevenly distributed and finite commodity. Central Europe has very good climate and soil conditions for arable farming compared to other parts of the world. An enormous diversity of species evolved here over centuries, which can only be preserved through a variety of agricultural usages. However, the
ensures that these areas shrink by about 70 hectares every single day, as we take over formerly agricultural areas for roads, single-family houses, car parking lots and the ten thousandth identical strip mall combinations of box stores, supermarkets, discount stores, drugstores, low-cost clothing stores, and as the most recent achievement organic shops on what used to be a green meadow.
And to the woman God said: "I will cause you much pain when you are pregnant; you shall bear children with pain; and your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall be your Lord... And to Adam he said: ... cursed be the field for your sake... In the sweat of your face you shall eat your bread..." Then the man sits in the shade under a tree, strokes his
and exclaims: "Pain and work in the field are not mutually exclusive. So get to work, woman."
The question is not whether or not mankind is farming, but how it is being done and with what aim. Throughout the history of mankind, there have always been sustainable forms of agriculture that have been self-sufficient for thousands of years - right up until the present day. Similarly, there are also enough historical examples showing the overuse of agriculturally viable land, which in some cases led to a complete collapse of agriculture at this location within a few decades. An increasing trend in mechanization and industrialization of modern agriculture will allow for higher yields in the short term, but will be impracticable in the long term due to the permanent leaching out, compaction, poisoning and devastation of the soil. Moreover, high yields are not currently being used to feed all people equally; rather, there is a global abundance of luxury goods such as meat to a small number of individuals at the expense of many. A sufficient food supply is a prerequisite of central importance for democratic participation. The analysis of the
shows that, despite all the mechanization, we overuse natural resources and there is no global social justice with regard to food.