Today's Food is a Modern Agricultural Miracle, So Why is It Under Attack?

Guest essay by Steve Goreham

Agriculture is under attack. Environmentalists label modern farming as unsustainable, blaming farming for polluting the planet and destroying the climate. But today’s food is abundant and nutritious—a modern agricultural miracle.

From 1961 to 2013, world population more than doubled from 3.1 to 7.2 billion. But agricultural output more than tripled over the same period, according to data from the United Nations. We are slowly winning the battle against world hunger. The percentage of chronically undernourished people has fallen from 30 percent of world population in 1950 to about 11 percent today.

Not only the quantity, but the quality and variety of food are much better than in past ages. A 2015 study at Stockholm University compared modern food to recipes from the chef of King Richard II of England in the 1300s. The study concluded that people of today’s developed nations eat better than the kings of old.

In the 1300s, King Richard did not have pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, which came to Europe from the Far East in the 1400s. He did not have coffee, which was first brewed in Arabia in the 1400s. He did not have oranges, corn, or pineapple, which arrived in Europe from Asia and North America during the 1400s and 1500s. Today we enjoy dozens of varieties of fruits, vegetables, and meats that were not available in past ages.

Today’s foods are a product of thousands of years of efforts to cultivate more abundant and more nutritious crops. Cross-pollination of plants, cross-breeding of animals, and now genetic engineering of plants and animals continues to deliver rising farm output with better food quality and variety. Grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and even seafood continue to improve due to advanced farming techniques.

But environmental groups attack modern farming methods as unsustainable, scorning the farmer’s use of water, land, pesticides, and energy. A 2010 UN Environmental Programme document states:

Agricultural production accounts for a staggering 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use, and 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions…The use of agrochemicals is related to ecotoxicity, eutrophication and depletion of phosphorus stocks. Intensive agriculture is related to substantial energy use. The loss of soil and biomass carbon can contribute to climate change.

The attacks on agriculture are too numerous to address in a single article, but one aspect of modern agriculture is not well known. Farmers are now giving land back to nature.

According to UN data, land used for farming is now declining. Total world agricultural area, the sum of crop land and pasture land, peaked in 2000 at 4.95 billion hectares and declined about one-half percent through 2013. Over the same period, world agricultural production increased 37 percent. The recent decline in total farm land use occurred despite 41.3 million hectares added for biofuel production, an area larger than Germany.

An astounding improvement in agricultural yields provides rising output without the need for additional land. Gains in US corn yield are a remarkable example. US land employed to harvest corn peaked in 1918. Today, US farmers produce five times more corn on 11 percent less area than 100 years ago.

The world has passed the point of peak agricultural land use. Today, farmers are feeding the growing world population and providing us with the best food in history, while at the same time returning land to nature.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the new book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

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Lucius von Steinkaninchen
January 24, 2018 9:10 am

It’s almost as if the international socialists need to keep the world in a state of poverty and scarcity in order to push their narrative of “muh it’s all rich people’s fault”. All that science and technology giving cheap, varied, abundant food to everyone may be really ruining their plans…

Reply to  Lucius von Steinkaninchen
January 24, 2018 10:36 am

Let’s briefly contemplate the writing of the 1800’s good Democrat George Fitzhugh’s and his argument ‘society was obligated to protect the weak” ( by controlling and subjugating them) . Fitzhugh wrote: “It is the duty of society to protect the weak;” but protection cannot be efficient without the power of control; therefore, “It is the duty of society to enslave the weak.”
see the pattern?

Reply to  Karl
January 24, 2018 12:28 pm

Before you can enslave the weak, you also must enslave all those who might object to your desire to enslave the weak. As well as all those who might object to your desire to enslave all those who would object to your desire to enslave all those who would object to enslaving the weak.
And so on.
Before you know, everyone but you is a slave.
Which was the goal all along.

Reply to  Karl
January 24, 2018 3:50 pm

Before you enslave the weak, you need to make sure there are plenty of weak to enslave. Hence modern socialist/green policies.

Reply to  Karl
January 25, 2018 7:20 am

They must also strive to make those that are not weak today weak and therefore needy. Of course the name of the game is control and power. Dang few on the Left go without food to save the world.

Reply to  Lucius von Steinkaninchen
January 24, 2018 7:31 pm

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule”.
– H. L. Mencken

old white guy
Reply to  Lucius von Steinkaninchen
January 25, 2018 5:10 am

those who wish to starve may do so on their own time.

January 24, 2018 9:12 am

When “environmental groups” stop eating for a few months, I’ll begin to consider their claims.

Reply to  Gary
January 24, 2018 1:19 pm

The gathering of our Dear Leaders at Davos are not having any difficulty keeping themselves well fed, at least on the taxpayer’s dime:
“The special menu for the WEF 2018 at the hotel restaurant “Cantinetta” includes a hamburger that costs just over $70 Canadian. On it: barbecue sauce, cheese, tomato, cucumber, crispy bacon and comes with French fries”

Reply to  PaulH
January 24, 2018 4:41 pm

Price for a Bacon Cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys, under $15. And I bet it tests better, too.
But I hardly blame the restaurantors at Davos. Bunch of rich pompous gits throwing money around like the never had to earn a dime of it? I’d gouge them all, too. They’ll just blow it all on Hookers and Blow, otherwise.
<¿< (looking at you, gore boy)

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  PaulH
January 26, 2018 4:03 am

Bacon cheese burger, a big one, is $5 at the Black Burger Restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. That includes a pair of latex gloves to use while eating it because they are so-o juicy.
A cup of coffee in Switzerland is $7 in a lot of places. They also have very high minimum wages.

Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 9:13 am

I have noticed a repeating theme. When you find an excellent solution to a serious problem, eventually people forget about the serious problem and take the solution for granted. Eventually they see the solution as a problem, totally ignoring the reason that the solution exists in the first place.
Disease -> Vaccines -> Anti Vaxxers
Food insecurity ->GMO Food -> Anti GMO
Expensive Power -> Electricity -> CO2 emissions
Poor Governance -> Freedom of Speech -> PC Police
All of these “solutions” to non-existent problems are driven by the left because they desire to fix issues, but they have forgotten history.
We need to teach people that their lives are based on the best solutions that were created for very serious issues.

Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 9:52 am

yin and yang. every solution contains the seeds of the next problem.
the problem is most people see problems as binary, right and wrong. In reality the problems of the world follow the rule of 3’s. yes, no, maybe. of which you only get to choose 2 as your solution. you can never have all 3 at the same time. and it is the 3rd item that causes every solution to give rise to the next problem.

Reasonable Skeptic
Reply to  ferdberple
January 24, 2018 10:04 am

Yes, but in these cases the initial problem was huge, the solution was elegant and effective and what remains are small problems.
So now we see groups trying to replace the elegant and effective solutions with bad ones because they have forgotten the significance of the original problem.

Bryan A
Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 10:20 am

Well, unfortunately the Anti-Vaxers could be sorry one day for their oversight. When the diseases that the vaccines were created make their rounds again (and eventually they will) it will be only the Anti-Vaxers children that get sick and wither

Reply to  Bryan A
January 24, 2018 3:54 pm

I agree with you in theory, but in practice you will find that a lot on good people’s children get caught up by preventable diseases because we can’t immunise before about 3 months. Older for some diseases. It would normally not be a big problem because the herd immunity means that there is very little disease going around.
But when anti-vaxers drop that herd immunity, babies start to die of preventable diseases. Not just those of anti-vaxers.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 10:44 am

“…problems are driven by the left because they desire to fix issues…”
You are on the right path, Reasonable, but establishment politicians want more control. That would be control over the masses. So they use the Public Schools, Universities and Mass Media to brainwash the malleable minds of societies youth. Fear and guilt are the most powerful emotional motivators. As H. L Mencken correctly observed: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins,all of them imaginary.” And that was nearly a century ago. 21st century government is so much better at branding and messaging. So what we have is endless waves of youthful Don Quixote’s tipping at windmills believing in the delusion that they are saving the world. But in fact all they are doing is chipping away at individual liberty as each generation passes more an more power to the Government.

Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 12:04 pm

To any problem there is a cost/benefit to be done. By looking at only one side of the ledger (the cost), no solution is acceptable.

Reply to  David
January 24, 2018 3:56 pm

Conversely, no solution is sufficiently bad to be unacceptable.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  David
January 25, 2018 4:24 am

The thing is, most of our problems today are social problems, and these can’t be solved by Government intervention no matter how well intentioned. The reason is because what we call society is an emergent property of individuals interacting as they go about their daily business. Since the individuals all have, to differing extents, the same human flaws, our society is also flawed. That is why no top-down solution will work for these social problems. They only way to address them is from the bottom up. In other words, if we want a better society, we all need to be better individuals. It really is that simple, not easy to do, but simple in concept.

Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 24, 2018 12:46 pm

All of these “solutions” to non-existent problems are driven by the left because they desire to fix issues [..]“. I don’t think they desire to fix issues, I think they desire to control people. Anything that works is opposed, because it can give people freedom.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 24, 2018 1:37 pm

Control is big with them and the Green way forward, is to reduce human populations and leave themselves as the sublime masters.
Dig deep enough into their rhetoric and they’ll tell you what they are really all about.
Keep that in mind and their words and actions begin to make sense, from their point of view.

Reply to  Reasonable Skeptic
January 25, 2018 7:31 am

Those on the Left do NOT desire to fix anything. They create fictional problems to create social chaos. Most of them never learned real history so have nothing to really forget. When you argue history with them they blow it off as something archaic and totally unimportant today. They are truly convinced they are wiser or their “priests” are than all those in the past. Remember for years they argued that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were living documents that must be interpreted based on modern mores. When that didn’t work they now argue and teach in university such documents are archaic works only worth studying in history class, certainly nothing to live by. The left has not changed in a hundred years, their game is power and control. They will use any tool necessary to ultimately gain their goal. They truly believe they or at least their monks and priest are the ultimate elites that should control ever aspect of our lives. They believe in tearing down and destroying the good to obtain their goals.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Edwin
January 25, 2018 10:15 am

When my children tried to tell me that “everything is different now dad”, I just replied that human nature has not changed in thousands of years. And that is the source of most of our problems.

Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 9:14 am

There is a big billboard along I-95 in south Florida proclaiming “There is NO humane dairy.” There is a big push by greenies down here to close down our dairy farms, including covert footage of mistreatment of dairy cattle. They don’t want us to eat or drink ANYTHING! As soon as all humans (themselves excepted) are gone, they will be happy.
As for me, make mine Skim.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 9:32 am

There is NO humane dairy.

As far as I can tell, the liberal elite bears an innate malice against the majority of the population. Their inhumanity to their fellow Americans is gobsmacking. I won’t be lectured on the humane treatment of cows by people haters.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 10:01 am

close down our dairy farms
and who will feed the millions of dairy cows no longer able to earn a living? like horses in the early 20th century. freed from the burden of pulling wagons by the automobile, the horses were turned to hides, glue and feed. today there are only a fraction of the number of horses alive that there were 150 years ago. in effect horses were all but exterminated by the automobile.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 12:30 pm

Skim?!? Plehhh! Nothing but colored water. On occasion I will “accidentally” purchase whole milk rather than the 1% my wife insists on. Oh brief ecstasy!

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
January 24, 2018 2:30 pm

In my younger days I shared a house with a chap who was a dairyman, responsible for feeding and milking a herd of 80 Holsteins. He’d bring home a jug of fresh unpasteursied unhomogenised whole milk from the evening milking, and leave it in the fridge overnight. Breakfast cornflakes were a true delight served with the creamy goodness from the top of the jug. His cows were happy, and would walk into the milking parlour from the fields, without having to be herded, as soon as he opened the gate and called them.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
January 24, 2018 6:54 pm

I’m not surprised. Full udders hurt.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 12:53 pm

“billboard…. There is NO humane dairy.”
Getting milked every evening in exchange for free health care, all the food you want, a warm dry place to sleep and no predators. How frightening! /sarc
What do these morons think happens to animals in wild?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  The Original Mike M
January 24, 2018 1:45 pm

You could make a good case that most people are in the same boat as the dairy herd.
Eat, sleep, produce. Luckily, we don’t end up as hamburger meat.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  The Original Mike M
January 24, 2018 2:03 pm

Alan Robertson: “You could make a good case that most people are in the same boat”
Yeah, for us the IRS serves as the milking machine.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  The Original Mike M
January 26, 2018 4:16 am

Alan R
“Luckily, we don’t end up as hamburger meat.”
That depends on where you live. Never assume anything.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 1:06 pm

Skim milk has about as much flavor as water; that is until it goes sour two days after you bought it. (Maybe the powdered milk at summer camp left a bad taste in my mouth all these years?)

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 3:13 pm

Make mine full cream…unhomogenised preferably.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 5:21 pm

I suspect that Animal Rights Activist (a subset of enviros) were responsible for the billboard.
A couple of decades ago I used to hang around an AOL forum called “Animal Rights/Animal Welfare”. Raising animals for food came up and how much water was “wasted” in the process.
I wish I still had the numbers (I got them from the USGS.), but all the water they claim is “wasted” on raising livestock and the food for livestock is mostly returned to the receiving waters. What isn’t returned is absorbed by Ma’ Gaia or evaporates. I think level-headed people call that “the ecosystem”.
PS I remember one person that opposed disinfecting drinking water thought that public water systems should simply pump raw water to homes where their home filters would make it safe. She didn’t like chlorine disinfection. She thought it was harmful to humans.
She also opposed animal research because animal physiology was different than humans. What hurt a critter might not hurt a human and vise versa.
Why was she opposed to chlorine disinfection (and any other water treatment that involved chemicals)?
Chlorine killed bacteria so any amount must be bad for humans.
(I got a headache trying to reproduce her logic.)

January 24, 2018 9:16 am

Nothing is stopping liberals from eating non-GMO foods, drinking unpurified food and water, just don’t stop the rest of us from eating what we want. I don’t mind they loony ideas, I mind them using the Federal Government to force their loony on everyone else.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  co2islife
January 24, 2018 9:25 am

Actually, there are some places that have local laws against drinking unpasteurized milk. I say, if people want to take those risks, they ought to have that right.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 12:33 pm

Bang’s disease (brucellosis) is not pleasant. Unless you own the cow and know it’s healthy, you shouldn’t take the risk.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 1:58 pm

” places that have local laws against drinking unpasteurized milk.”
Only 20 states ban the sale of of unpasteurized milk. (I don’t know of any state that bans people from drinking it?)
However selling across state lines becomes a federal issue subject to the FDA which disallows unpasteurized milk commerce across state lines as one Amish diary farmer found out the hard way.
The wrinkle is people crossing from their own illegal raw milk state into a legal raw milk state to buy unpasteurized milk for their own consumption. The FDA doesn’t like that either but concedes that it has no authority to stop it.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 2:44 pm

It would be fine IF the people taking the risk had to pay for treatment (not their insurance) and could not write the debt off in bankruptcy. Otherwise, we all pay for their choices.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 24, 2018 6:23 pm

The fly in the ointment is, of course, children, who trust in their parents’ decisions. If you’re foolish enough to put your own health at risk then so be it, you bear the responsibility and the consequences. Not so much for the kiddies.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 26, 2018 4:21 am

Some people think that drinking unpasteurized milk makes you live forever.
So the FDA charge for those buying out of state would be: “Transporting unpasteurized milk across State lines for immortal purposes.”

Reply to  co2islife
January 24, 2018 9:40 am

Very sane comment

Reply to  co2islife
January 24, 2018 11:56 am

While they are at it, I strongly urge them to drink only raw water in the hope that doing so will speed up the Darwin-effect.

Reply to  RayG
January 25, 2018 1:21 am

Actually done for a long time, this is call “mineral water”. Some brands are really expensive.
And it is fine, as long as you use water from place known to be safe.

January 24, 2018 9:23 am

It is arguable that a lot of food is unhealthy and the abundance has lead to poor diets. Farmers and processors produce what people want to buy.
Even the worst foods are made to high standards of quality. People’s choices are the cause of a lot of health problems.

Reply to  Billy
January 24, 2018 12:33 pm

The most unhealthy of all is no food. Hunger will make almost anything acceptable. Most parents have found that children get much less picky when they get more hungry. Time to let a few activists get hungry.

Reply to  Billy
January 24, 2018 2:48 pm

Abundance does not lead to poor choices—lack of education, concern for one’s health and overall lousy planning skills do. People without much make do with what is a hand, nutritious or not. One could argue the problem is not the food, but the EBT card that lets people buy the food without working for it. It’s all a result of people becoming increasingly lazy, both physically and intellectually.

Reply to  Sheri
January 24, 2018 3:36 pm

Maybe I overstated that. The convenience and availability of junk and fast food is a factor. The national food guides also give erroneous guidance. People naturally like sweet, salty and greasy snacks.
The abundance of food is certainly good. People need to inform themselves and make good choices.

J Mac
January 24, 2018 9:29 am

The American farmer and agricultural industry has given us a wide variety of plentiful and nutritious fruits, vegetables, grains and meat, all at very reasonable prices. From a socialists perspective, this dynamic expression of capitalist competition and efficiency MUST be destroyed by any means possible. They use their ‘environmentalist’ front groups to pursue the attack.

Roger Graves
January 24, 2018 9:29 am

If the basis of your world-view is that humanity is a virus that must be wiped out (save for the select few overseeing the wiping out,of course), then anything that helps to sustain more human beings on our planet, such as abundant food, cheap electrical power, and so forth, must be resisted and, if possible, closed down. Exactly the same people who are pushing the climate change meme, which is fundamentally an objection to cheap and abundant energy, will, I suspect, be objecting to GMO’s and all types of modern farming.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Roger Graves
January 24, 2018 10:38 am

This attitude goes clear back to Malthus. Read Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin. You will be shocked by how many millions of people the elite of this country and England have deliberately let die, preventing aid. Just because they aren’t of European extraction. In this country, most of them Democrats.

January 24, 2018 9:41 am

This one hits closer to home with the morning joe.
In California, Where Cancer Warnings Abound, Coffee Is Next in Line
Judge is expected to rule whether 1986 state law, meant to warn of potential harms, applies to coffee
Coffee is on the hot seat because of the presence of acrylamide, a flavorless chemical produced during the roasting process.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 24, 2018 10:20 am

Coffee is on the hot seat
Californians have been putting it in the wrong end for years.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 24, 2018 1:24 pm

R Guy:
California declared a while ago that marijuana smoke contains 33 known carcinogens.
Under Proposition 65, warning label is required as given here:
Don’t worry, California will want the taxes on the sales and forget their warning.
So let the coffee sellers accept a special tax, no more problem.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  rd50
January 26, 2018 4:25 am

“Don’t worry, California will want the taxes on the sales and forget their warning.”
If they smoke enough they will forget everything. In certain cases that can be a pleasant gift to the others.

January 24, 2018 9:57 am

Imagine how much more cropland could be returned to nature if we weren’t wasting so much food by trying to turn it into fuel.

Reply to  MarkW
January 24, 2018 6:25 pm

And inefficiently at that. Sugar cane for ethanol? Yup, positive energy balance. Probably. Corn? Not even remotely close but that takes us to a discussion on farm subsidization.

Reply to  buggs
January 24, 2018 6:35 pm

I was also thinking about palm oil and a few other boondoggles.

Reply to  MarkW
January 25, 2018 1:37 am

Easy: ZERO.
No food is turned into fuel.
Now, if you mean corn, palm, etc., well, sure, some crop are specially dedicated to fuel, and, sure, this is a stupid scheme than wouldn’t exist without subsidies. But they are not food any more than plants cultivated to be turned into starch, sugar, alcohol, perfumes, clothing, recreative smoke, animal and microbe feed etc.
As a rule of thumb, only half of the crop are meant to be food.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
January 25, 2018 6:39 am

Corn isn’t food. Interesting.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
January 25, 2018 9:07 am

Nothing is food, unless actually eaten, or at least meant to be eaten. A large proportion (more or less, half) of grown corn, wheat, potatoes, etc. never were meant to be eaten by humans, and are grown accordingly (not the same seeds, not the same treatments, etc.). Few of what was grown for other purpose would be accepted for food (because of taste, pesticide or naturally toxic contain, etc.), unless in dire need; people usually don’t try eating it, but you could, if you insist (expect some paperwork from the provider, disclaimer that this was not meant to be eaten, and you accept fully responsibility for doing so).
Bon appetit.
After you try, you will tell us if this corn is actually food.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  paqyfelyc
January 25, 2018 10:21 am

Would you have been happier if Mark had said “crops” instead of “food”. With that substitution, I agree with him completely.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
January 26, 2018 1:33 am

@Paul Penrose
Well, this just means you agree with watermelons, who just don’t accept that humans turn pieces of Nature into some sort of factory, not just for food, but also for a endless list of industrial uses. (Actually, many of them not even accept that humans “exploit” Nature for any purpose, food included, wishing we only live out of some God/Nature given Manna, no more, without agriculture, fishing, hunting ).
As I said, this is surely a bad idea to subsidize turning plants into fuel. this either don’t need subsidies, or must but dropped. In which case, the cropland wouldn’t return to Nature, but rather to some other usage humans see fit.

January 24, 2018 9:59 am

Year on year the world is harvesting bumper crops- a little search through google illustrates that benign weather has often been instrumental. Agriculture will always be the thorn in the alarmists side.

January 24, 2018 10:09 am

It will be interesting to see what happens during the next agricultural revolution – advanced greenhouses. My suspicion is that almost all non-grain production will move indoors one way or another. Augmented lighting will be the norm, and the byproducts of one line will be the fertilizer for the next. The greenhouses will be hooked up to NatGas generators allowing a 12 month growing season, 1,000 ppm CO2 and warming during winter months. I expect the productivity per acre to nearly double. If Allan Savory’s holistic management techniques are validated over the next decade then there will be a lot less land used for corn-fed beef as well.
It will be interesting to see what happens.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  chadb
January 24, 2018 10:21 am

The problem with that idea, Chad, is that it’s expensive and energy intensive. While it would produce extremely high yields, the $/bushel cost of production will increase geometrically. Greenhouse produce has been around for over a century, but it just doesn’t compete due to the sheer expense. It’s cheaper to move produce across the planet than to grow it in a greenhouse. Unless you have a dire shortage of land, there’s no reason to do it.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Ben of Houston
January 24, 2018 10:48 am

Remember that efficiency changes over time – it isn’t a fixed constant. I had to keep reminding people that the efficiency of retrieving fossil fuels would increase, and therefore the reserves would keep expanding over the last 30 years, and OMG did fracking proof me right (although I had no idea what technology would eventually succeed, history told me one would).
The same applies to producing food – through time new breakthroughs will change the equations for what is profitable and what is not. I think producing large volumes of fresh vegetables within mega-cities will succeed, not necessarily because it is cheaper but because it fresher (a better product that can be eaten without storage). I don’t know if these will be a lot of little “factories” or a few big ones, but as people’s wealth grows, so will their willingness to spend more money on a slightly better product.
It may be that some foods lend themselves to being grown in a factory environment so well, they become profitable. Reduction in use of pesticides, water, and other factors, plus a much higher yield might just push it over into a profitable adventure. Think about desert or near desert environments in the case of water usage where they want a fresh food. What if regulations make the use of fertilizers much more expensive? (to control over use and runoff) – a factory environment addresses this. There are all sorts of unknowns that could change what is profitable.
While in general sentiment I agree with you – producing massive amounts of food over wide areas will remain the most effective/profitable means for a good while longer, I think there will be a slow shift to local grown foods for various reasons that eventually may account for 10% to 20% of all food grown (wild guess).

Reply to  Ben of Houston
January 24, 2018 12:32 pm

I’ve read about greenhouses that use exhaust gasses from power plants.
They can also circulate the warm water from the cooling towers as well.

Lars P.
Reply to  Ben of Houston
January 24, 2018 1:43 pm

There is no problem with that idea, it is long being used on an industrial scale (minus the continuous light).comment image
“Temperatures can reach more than 45 degrees Celsius inside”

J Mac
Reply to  chadb
January 24, 2018 10:59 am

Great….. Where ‘natural’ solar energy is efficiently used to economically grow nutritious food plants in natural fields, you want to supplant that with completely artificial, labor intensive, energy intensive, highly expensive production methods! What an nonholistic and unsavory vision that is!

Reply to  J Mac
January 24, 2018 12:34 pm

Should the vision of the Malthusians ever come to pass, and the planet actually start getting over crowded, it’s a potential solution.
Should the planet start to slide towards another ice age, it’s a potential solution.
Worth talking about. Not worth doing anything about, at this time.

Reply to  J Mac
January 24, 2018 8:08 pm

If my memory serves me correctly ; About 40% of the food, mostly vegetables I assume, needed to supply the population of Lagos in Nigeria, Greater Lagos has an estimated polulation of 21 million, is grown within the Greater Lagos city limits.
Water and fertilisers for this production of vegetables isn’t a problem apparently as the food crops are frequently grown on small acreages in human waste from a sewerage system that doesn’t exist in many locations.

Reply to  chadb
January 25, 2018 1:56 am

Methink the next agricultural revolution is simply the end of agriculture, replace by chemical food processed directly from oil (maybe with the help of yeasts and other microbes specially engineered for this purpose).
Why go through the hassle of turning energy into fertilizer, light, heat, just to boot the inefficient photosynthesis engine providing sugar to the plant, a fraction of which will be edible?
This will please animal and plants lovers, who think eating them is disgusting.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
January 25, 2018 9:07 am

Then we all can become like Princely Charles and just talk to the plants. At that point the whole earth would become a “funny farm”, so we wouldn’t even have to move! Long live the Queen!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  chadb
January 26, 2018 5:54 am

Propane burned and vented in the greenhouse might cause problems with food. It was introduced to tobacco kilns about the early 80’s and toxins showed up in the leaf that were so toxic even the tobacco companies banned the practice (it was very energy efficient).

January 24, 2018 10:13 am

The answer to this conundrum lies in the words of Robert A. Heinlein – “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
Those who wish to control others care little of anything other than expanding their control. They are myopically obsessed with the idea that they know what is best for everybody else, and feel compelled to take charge of everything ‘for the common good.’ It matters not that they have no concept of the consequences of their efforts in an increasingly complex and non-linear world.

Richard Patton
Reply to  tadchem
January 24, 2018 10:41 am

There is so much wisdom in that quote.

Reply to  tadchem
January 24, 2018 10:43 am

Exactly! The desire/lust/compulsion to control the lives and property of other people is the ROOT of all evil.

The Reverend Badger
Reply to  MamaLiberty
January 24, 2018 1:04 pm

Indeed, I have recently come to the conclusion that ALL my left wing friends and relatives are inherently EVIL and I must do everything in my power to hinder them. Starting next week at the wedding…

Robert of Texas
Reply to  tadchem
January 24, 2018 10:51 am

Wow… Was that the definition of a Progressive? It sure sounded like one…

Reply to  tadchem
January 24, 2018 3:07 pm

Good post, tadchem. Right to the bottom line: There are those who wish to control others, and those who don’t have this desire. Those who don’t have the desire to control others, resist the efforts of those who do.
Here’s a timely example of the Left’s desire to control the population:
PODESTA: ‘Stabilize The Population’ To Fight Global Warming

James Beaver
January 24, 2018 10:19 am

This article is making me hungry for a nice sizzling steak with steamed imported GMO veggies covered in real butter and garlic.

January 24, 2018 10:21 am

This just proves that “Environmentalists” know jack diddly squat about the environment, particularly the biosphere and the live-giving things it produces.

William E. Nance
January 24, 2018 10:24 am

Modern agriculture is giving us food that has a far lower nutritional value than the food our grand parents ate. Read “Growing a Revolution” by David Montgomery.

Reply to  William E. Nance
January 24, 2018 12:35 pm

Total BS.

Reply to  William E. Nance
January 24, 2018 12:40 pm

You will have to show me more evidence than that.

Robert of Texas
January 24, 2018 10:32 am

It’s typical religious beliefs and an anti-science mentality. By religious, I don’t mean a belief in a “God” but instead a fervent belief in “Mother Nature” and that science is a perversion. Humans seemed to be programmed to hold mysterious beliefs that defy facts, and a deep distrust of anything they do not understand. They look to the priests (like Climate Scientists) to explain the mysteries to them.
Industry has not helped, especially in the past, because by chasing profit they often produced harm (environmental, abused workers, etc.) Somehow this becomes the fault of science, but actually its a problem in regulating safety. (Yup, I said that… and meant it. There is such a thing a the proper amount of regulation, and of course over regulation, but I would never want to go back to no regulation because people in power are inherently greedy).
Somehow, otherwise perfectly sane people come to believe that something grown Organic is better than something grown on a modern farm using modern practices, but often the opposite is true. Somehow a crop that has a new gene in it is a monster – never mind it saves the lives of millions. Let’s all fear and distrust anything produced by science.
Now that I have that out of my system, there is a lot to improve on the modern farms. Soil erosion, overuse of fertilizers, reducing water usage, over use of pesticides, and more can still be improved upon. So can the crops we grow using GMO techniques. Our modern farms have produced miracles in production, but they leave a lot of room for improvement. And this will take regulation to achieve.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
January 24, 2018 12:48 pm

Over-regulation is as dangerous a no regulation. You must leave room for innovation. Much regulation simply limits who can produce food. Some is just silly and GMO prohibition is one.

Dick Kahle
Reply to  Robert of Texas
January 24, 2018 1:48 pm

I do not agree that it will take regulation as the primary means to deal with the issues of soil erosion, overuse of fertilizers, reducing water usage, overuse of pesticides, etc. Why? Because farmers pay high prices for agricultural land and it is already in their self-interest to reduce soil erosion, water usage, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Without quality soil their crops suffer. Water, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are input costs and agriculture is a tremendously competitive marketplace with all commodities traded daily through electronic marketplaces. Reducing the use of all these inputs reduces their costs. To be effective as a farmer today, you either need a lot of real world experience or you go to one of the land-grant universities and get a degree in one of the agriculture majors. These same universities do research on methods of addressing all of the issues you mention. If I go to the University of Nebraska and do a search for terms like soil or crop management, I.find dozens of courses, internships, etc for each of those topics.I only see three areas where regulation would make sense. One is addressing the quality of water in streams and rivers. That is where runoff from agricultural lands impacts others. We already do this but the difficulty lies in assessing where the contributions, particularly nitrates, come from. The second area is improper application of pesticides or herbicides that affects neighboring farms. On one hand, there is already a civil means of redress through lawsuits. On the other, South Dakota regulators recently addressed issues of farmers not following instructions during application. In regards to water, no farmer wants to see his water table drop to where he can not irrigate. Most agricultural states have regulations already dealing with the access to water to attempt to avoid depleting aquifers of reducing river flows. At the same time, it costs money to bring water to the crops and more efficient and less wasteful methods are to the farmers advantage. The third area, which is mineral depletion in topsoil, is perhaps the most difficult to address. If the mineral is essential to crop yield, the farmer will try to retain the necessary levels out of self-interest. If the mineral is valuable to nutrition but not to yields, then we are in an area that will require some enterprising efforts. “Organic farming” addresses some of these issue indirectly but not always successfully. Also, “organic food” is not available to many due to cost. The ultimate solution may be to test crops for nutritional quality for the purpose of labeling in the marketing process. Thus crops with higher nutritional value could actually sell in the agricultural markets at a premium. This is not an easy area to address because we still struggle with what is proper nutrition. This should not be regulated because our government scientists have been giving us bad advice for over a half-century as illustrated by recent research, especially on fats and carbohydrates in our diets.

Reply to  Dick Kahle
January 24, 2018 6:40 pm

A few years back I read about a software system that tied the tractor into a GPS system, and using maps generated from satellite images, the farmer could continuously adjust the amount and type of fertilizer that was being sprayed onto his field depending on what that section actually needed.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
January 24, 2018 6:38 pm

Modern industry is safer because we are wealthy enough to afford more safety. It had nothing to do with government regulation.
Workplaces have been getting safer for as long as records have been kept, going back more than 200 years.
There was no change in the rate of improvement after government got into the act.

Reply to  MarkW
January 24, 2018 9:09 pm

Using mapped for nutrients in field and using GPS positioning to adjust fertilizer application across the field both when seeeding and later during the growth of the crop was being trialled here inAustralia’s croplands back in the late 1990’s just before I got out of farming.
It finished up that any increase in yields [ and there were also some minor decreases ] did not make up for the cost and of the equipment and the extra work involved in the handling and application of the fertilisers.
When I started farming or at least obeying the instructions of my farming father back in 1954. in western Victoria in the SE of Australia, we could expect to get about two tonnes a hectare [ 30 bus / acre for americans ] of wheat yield.
And that was every second year on land that had been worked hard from when the country was opened up for settlement in the very early 20th century.
This year, 63 years later, an average year for some and very mediocre for others due to frost on the crops, the better wheat yields unaffected by frost and in our 400 mm average winter rainfall zone, reached over 6 tonnes a hectare or 3 times that amount of grain grown on the same land in the same region as those 63 years ago.
BUT and it is a very big BUT indeed, between a grain crop every second year, the farmers are now planting a variery of pulses such as lentils, beans, peas, broad beans and etc plus Canola and a range of other minor crops in the alternate years to a grain/ cereal crop on the same land and fields
And it often happens that the profitability of the the alternate year pulse and oil seed crops are higher than the grain / cereal crops.
Again technology has enabled such an every year planting of crops into the same field, in our case amongst the lowest rainfall only cropping nations on the planet.
The technology is a one pass only, no presowing preparation in the form of a cultivation, sowing technology where the GPS and automatic steering of the tractors and sowing equipment including shifting the sown equipment behind the tractor a few centimetres left or right at the drawbar when the tractor is not tracking correctly, so as to stay with in a two centimetre sowing band of the sowing Tyne’s which enables the farmers to sow between the 18 cm to 20 cm wide gaps between the rows of standing stubble from the previous year’s crops.
Weed control is doneon the growing crop at 20 plus kph running 30 to 40 metre wide 800 litres capacity boom sprays, always down the same original spray boom tracks accurate down to a couple of centimetres accuracy .
A spray program which might entail the boom spray going over the same crop and same paddock of few hundred to a thousand hectares, some half a dozen times both before and during the 6 month growing periods of our crops.
GPS controlled steering all the time with automatic GPS positioning switch off/ switch on of sections or all of of the boom spray whilst turning at the ends of the field and / or prevention of overlaps or around objects like trees and etc
Not far from where I live they are now growing cereal crops in an annual rainfall zone of just 10 inches average rainfall each year and achieving two or thee tonnes a hectare [ 30 to 45 bus / acre ] due to the huge improvements in crop genetics.
And the yields continue to rise due primarily to those utterly ignored, unsung heros of the scientific world and the true saviours from mass starvation of all of mankind, the plant breeders and their back up of plant geneticists, plant pathologists and so many other field and technical staff at the plant breeding centers of the world crops of every type..
You may discuss everything else in food crop technology but the core of the increasing crop yields and their increasing human health qualities are those unsung heroes in my opinion, the crop and plant breeders and the plant geneticists,
[ I have been privileged to have known a few of the best in the global Ag food crop field ]
Without those plant breeder scientists and there are only a handful of them around the world working on food crops of every type and thinking years ahead on the qualities, disease resistance, ability to both harvest and still retain the grain in the head until the harvester reaches them , rain resistance for retention of quality and many and many etc’s , there are I think about 56 different qualities required for a plant breeder to meet in a new variety of wheat alone before it is even tested for other qualities.
And thats only for wheat let alone the other few dozen major global food crops..
Without these plant breeders and plant geneticists and pathologists and etc there really would have been outbreaks of mass starvation around the world by now as we very nearly saw happen in 1974 when there were only some 5 billions of humanity on this planet ,
And the other always ignored factor in global human food sustenance is thanks indeed to fossil fuels and the incredible global shipping and land transport systems that rely tottally on fossil fuels which have enabled areas of shortage to rapidly, as in about two weeks, to get very large tonnages of food from areas of food plenty anywhere in the world to those areas of food shortage.

Reply to  MarkW
January 25, 2018 6:44 am

My post was in response to the one that claimed that farms were the source of most of the fertilizer, etc. run-off. I was giving an example of the lengths farmers had been willing to go to avoid using more chemicals than necessary.
I did not mean to imply that such technology was a major, much less sole reason for improvements in agricultural production.

January 24, 2018 10:34 am

The use of agrochemicals is related to ecotoxicity, eutrophication and depletion of phosphorus stocks.
Solved (soon)!
From Bloomberg Businessweek …
This Army of AI Robots Will Feed the World
And it could do it while eliminating herbicides, replenishing topsoil, and reducing carbon consumption. If all goes to plan.
And it should make a few bucks for John Deere.

Richard Patton
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 24, 2018 10:48 am

LOL, that will happen when we get the flying cars that when I was a kid they said we’d have by the year 2000.

Reply to  Richard Patton
January 24, 2018 12:36 pm

I got mine, I’m just not allowed to fly it anywhere.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 24, 2018 1:08 pm

“If all goes to plan.”
Which tells you exactly how likely the outcome is. 🙂

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 24, 2018 2:08 pm

Richard Patton and AllyKat. Read the article.
In September the farm equipment multinational [John Deere} bought the three-year-old Silicon Valley startup [for $305 million]. “It was clear that Blue River was becoming the industry leader in robotics and machine learning and that this for us would be a perfect synergy,” he says.
If Amazon can use machine vision and AI to eliminate cashiers in grocery stores how hard can it be to recognize weeds and kill them? Pretty hard a few years ago. Today, not so much.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 24, 2018 6:41 pm

There’s still the issue of time. I suspect it will be quicker to spray weeds than pluck them for a few years yet.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 24, 2018 9:35 pm

Autoscan 30 metre wide GPS guided auto steer spray booms with weed recognition algorithms are already in some limited use around here.
The weed is detected at speed and cops a burst of chemical from the appropriate individual spray jet as the main boom passes over the weed.
Works on some weeds and works on cultivated land where the contrasts between the reflected weed spectrum and soils reflected spectrum is high.
Saves a lot of chemical in the right circumstances but is not yet a viable economic proposition for most broad acre farmers.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 25, 2018 6:45 am

ROM, are you saying that the technology is capable of telling different kinds of weeds apart?

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 26, 2018 3:12 pm

I was literally only commenting on the statement “[i]f all goes to plan.” Things rarely go exactly to plan. This could well have a very positive effect on things, but it will probably happen differently than forecast or hoped. Regardless of the outcome, the actual process will likely vary from current projections – which is normal. 🙂

January 24, 2018 10:39 am

Agriculture is under attack from the Greens on a number of fronts. Fossil fuels, artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides have increased the yields of crops to staggering proportions in a few short years.According to the Greens “All fossil fuel usage is bad.” So fuel usage and fertilizers must also be bad. So in a strange way the Greens are causing more fossil fuel to be used per acre of farm land rather than less. How so you ask. The “New Low Emission” diesel engines that farm equipment was forced to use are causing farmers to burn 15% to 20% more diesel for no gain other than to drop the instant CO2 and NOX emissions by a small amount. These new engines have idle regeneration periods where the engine goes into a forced higher idle to “regenerate” to reduce the exhaust outputs. During this regeneration the unit it is installed can not be used and on some engines this can be a period of up to 20 to 30 minutes of high idle. So you stand idly by watching your tractor or combine roar away for nothing. So rather than trying to become more fuel efficient and using less fuel the new regulations are wasting a valued resource and pushing the costs of the farmers up for no real gain. Another wonderfully stupid regulation brought to you by Obama, the EPA and the Green meanies.

January 24, 2018 10:39 am

For a chuckle, check this out, about the ‘true cost of food’:

Jeff Norman
January 24, 2018 10:50 am

The article’s use of percentages for chronically undernourished people is weak because critics could say there were more chronically undernourished people is 2013 than in 1950 and they would be correct (7.9 million versus 7.7 million).
What is missing is that in 1950 there were 2.5 billion people who were not chronically undernourished and in 2013 there were 7.9 billion people who were not chronically undernourished. Which is good news,
What can also be said is that the number of chronically undernourished people has remained relatively constant which may be the result of living in a #not_a_sh!thole_country.

January 24, 2018 11:28 am

Where would the bong smoking green intellectuals get their munchies from? Their bong smoking is inhibiting forsight.

Reply to  nc
January 26, 2018 6:37 pm

“Where would the bong smoking green intellectuals get their munchies from?”
From the supermarkets of course.
Where do you think food comes from?

Leo Smith
January 24, 2018 11:59 am

why would anyone want to feed the world anyway?
its far too crowded.
we need death on an industrial scale.
green policies will provide it.

January 24, 2018 12:04 pm

Environmental watermelons claim modern agriculture is unsustainable only because they want it to be unsustainable.

Gary Pearse
January 24, 2018 12:34 pm

There is a “green” activist pattern clearly related to disrupting democracy, freedom, business and industry, consumption, prosperity, population and civilization itself that arises from a deeply rooted clinical neurosis of self loathing in the main, and out and out psychosis in the shrillest extremists. A good example is, when it was believed that we had reached peak oil and gas, it wasn’t worth their while to do much against a declining “problem”. They went full bore against coal. However when the fracking miracle became known, a massive campaign ensued including the ever present phoney claims of harming people’s health. It even helped reduce coals prominence and cut greenhouse gases, but they didn’t want the prosperity of cheap fuel for homeowners and industries.
Because dialogue to bridge gaps and lead to understanding is impossible (because of the nature of their illness) a world leader like Trump was essential for stifling a confident, hell bent, heavily financed movement to Neomarxist world domination. Needed was an impossible person who had no qualms about upending major positions, saw no organizations too big to fail, didn’t hesitate to undo agreements, initiatives in process for decades, to defund and withdraw from Global organizations, to stick fingers in Iran’s, North Korea’s and Syria’s eyes. Any other GOP hopeful would have, at best, negotiated a slower trip to oblivion for Western Society. The ugly self loathing misanthropes that have held sway for several decades needed a deep shock and an unceremonious rooting out without warning. They are the crocodiles that snap at the backsides of those trying to save even them! In a few months, a two decade problem of ISIS and earlier iterations of savagery were pounded into the ground, North Korea with its bluff called is now having talks with South Korea and even marching in the Seoul Olympics. The world needed a heavy footed, pounding walker carrying a very big knobbly stick as it always has to protect a prosperous, productive and free way of life in an enclave surrounded by brutishness that needs a model to aim for. Even Mugabe who was being groomed for a ceremonial post at the UN and maybe a Nobel Prize for life achievement was slapped out of power and put under house arrest. Other seemingly unrelated things like this will continue to occur with the new sheriff in town.

January 24, 2018 12:35 pm

Charles Mann has written a fine article that puts this agricultural controversy in historical context. The two giants of plant development last century were William Vogt and Norman Borlaug, whose followers Mann calls “Prophets” and “Wizards”, respectively. The latter are committed to solving problems through human ingenuity, while the former think “Small is Beautiful”. Of course the attacks are coming from the Prophets, while the wizards are researching new crops like C4 Rice, funded mostly by the Gates Foundation.
A synopsis and link to the article is at

January 24, 2018 1:21 pm

Perhaps few have noticed, but the trend has been away from locally grown food towards large enterprise and factory-like operations, at least in first world countries. Not many backyard gardens, few neighborhood chickens and pigs, and nobody delivering eggs and milk to their neighbors. The small organic grower is a relic of the old normal, with many jurisdictions having regulations that restrict them considerably.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Rockyredneck
January 24, 2018 2:28 pm

I grow veg in my back garden, not for economical or ideological reasons, but the fun and taste and challenge; there’s a short growing season up here 🙁

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
January 24, 2018 3:16 pm

It will be planting time before we know it. 🙂

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
January 25, 2018 4:17 pm

I purchased a portable greenhouse 4 years ago so that my lime tree could survive the winter. I live at 2000 ft elevation not far from the Trinity Alps in Northern California. When I set up the greenhouse last year as the temps dropped in the fall I also included several grow bags from my summer garden. These bags contained German chamomile, eggplant, cherry peppers, and sweet peppers. All of those are still alive in the greenhouse even with snow on the ground outside. The sweet pepper is still slowly producing peppers. I harvested around 100 pounds of Rangpur limes, and still have around 20 pounds of fruit left on the tree. It will be interesting to see how well the eggplant and other vegetables will perform when springtime arrives.

January 24, 2018 1:47 pm

The lives and minds of Leftists are so chaotic, bizarre and uncoordinated that when they see something that is functioning normally or well, they feel disturbed and in need of taking action against it. It is as if socialists needed to keep the World in the state of poverty of organisation and scarcity of rational thought, similar to that which that they can see from the inside of their heads. They push their simplistic ideas about the fault of rich or white people being responsible for all the faults of the World when it is as often as not, the result of their own socialist policies. Cheap freely available food that sustains billions of people is just too much for the Leftards to handle, as it should not be there.

January 24, 2018 2:06 pm

Margarine (oleomargarine) was invented because Emperor Napoleon III wanted some cheap gunk to feed his warrior goons and the peasants. But at least it was originally made from animal fat, not from the plant seed oils that evolution didn’t shape us to consume in volume.
Some people think evolution did a miserable job at shaping organisms over the past few billion years, and that’s God’s divine two-legged creations can do a better job of it in the laboratory, despite failures, like the genetically engineered Tryptophan disaster resulting from our owners allowing corporations to secretly test their new products on us.
I note that a lot of people around here who support corporate lifeforms(TM) in the foodchain as a route to salvation, also believe in dowsing.
Of course, much of the growth in agricultural output, perhaps 40%, is simply a consequence of ordinary people burning stuff (hence why trees in Brooklyn grow at double the rate of their rural counterparts without any help from Monsanto).

Reply to  Khwarizmi
January 24, 2018 6:46 pm

It really is sad the way some people allow their religious convictions regarding how those who own businesses are all evil, to influence what little is left of their sanity.
Those who own us?
Secretly testing?
tryptophan disaster?
Is there anything you know that is actually true?

Peta of Newark
January 24, 2018 2:07 pm

its funny that – *exactly* what I found while farming.
Precisly how my barley field yeilded ever more and more year after year.
it just got sooooooo boring pulling 100 tonnes of stuff off a postage stamp sized bit of dirt, I simply lost my mind figuring out what to do with it all.
and while my neighbours wer paying £17000 an acre for dirt, I had so much yeild from mine, I simply couldn’t give it away.
Crazy eh
It even got so bad that huge trucks atarted coming to take away fertilser from my place.
If i’d not seen it with my own eyes, I’d have not beleived it.
Let alone read about it on that fountain of certain incontrovertible truth, The interweb.
Here you are lads, listen to the words and throw some shapes around the living room you might be in.
Nobody’s watching.
Hey, doing so might even stave off the CVD, the hypertension and (pre) diabetes.

PS Do turn the wick riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight up. give it some bump. sing along even.

Robert of Ottawa
January 24, 2018 2:24 pm

I’ve often said to eco nuts that as agriculture has the largest impact on the environment of all human activities, then agriculture should be band; the fields and pastures returned to their natural state. Pastures …? Oh, wait a minute.

Bob Burban
January 24, 2018 2:26 pm

Several years ago I had a vegetable and herb garden in an outlying suburb in Australia and local kids were fascinated by the fact that I could pull a carrot out of the ground, pluck a red tomato off a bush, pick sugar-snap peas off a vine … and, after a quick rinse with water as required, eat them … then and there. Up until then they thought vegetables simply came from the supermarket.

Reply to  Bob Burban
January 24, 2018 2:56 pm

I was grinding up venison for burger and a young friend of ours remarked something to the effect of “Yuck”. He had no idea where hamburger came from except the supermarket. He did not want any further lessons on food, either….

January 24, 2018 2:57 pm

Decadence. They attack that which keeps them alive.

January 24, 2018 3:21 pm

It seems as if George Fitzhugh may have been one of the original Progressives.

January 24, 2018 4:58 pm

If farmers in the US, Canada, France, various South American countries, Mexico, et al., went on strike for a year and refused to ship anything to liberal-dominated states and countries, how long do you think that would last before the squawking started from the libs?
If field corn (as opposed to sweet corn for the dinner table), wheat and soybeans weren’t produced for a full season, how long do you think it would be before the Greenbeans, CAGWers, and Warmians started squawking about not having soy lattes, no bread from Panera – use your imagination. The lest of products is longer than both of my arms put together.
What if grocery stores and shops refused to sell any and all products to them, and they had to have an ID for food shopping?
Let’s see them raise their own d*****d food, period, for a full year. These clowns have no idea where their food comes from. They only know that farming, which is what brought humans out of the hunter-gatherer hunger-driven existence into civilization, is bad, bad, bad, when we all know better.
I really do believe now that these people are so stupid they don’t even know that they’re alive. Therefore, take away all the convenience stuff like groceries, shops, and kitcshy cafes where the food has phony but special labeling on the menu, and tell them they aren’t allowed to eat, shop or buy anything there.
I don’t think they’d last very long.

Reply to  Sara
January 24, 2018 6:48 pm

Of course there wouldn’t be a farmer still in business anywhere in the country when the year was up either.

Reply to  MarkW
January 24, 2018 9:58 pm

But the farmers would still have food on their tables. As my dad used to say, “You can’t eat money.” He grew up on a farm and saw people starving in North Africa during the War (WWII).

Reply to  MarkW
January 25, 2018 6:46 am

Not if the bank foreclosed and kicked him off the land.

Reply to  Sara
January 24, 2018 9:52 pm

One of my cousins lives in New York City. He said that “It was the REAL WORLD,” and that everywhere else in America was not. If you cut off all road, rail and air traffic to NYC for a month, the inhabitants there would literally be killing each other in the streets. For NYC can’t produce anything that is essential for survival.
[A month? Perhaps 4 hours for the troubles to begin, less for the murders to begin. .mod]

Reply to  zzy
January 25, 2018 2:48 am

So what? No place in the world can produce all what it needs, if cut off. Everywhere nowadays, it would turn into a nasty “survivor”-like existence (but no quitting, no staff to help and police the players, because they are not “players”, because this is no game anymore), with few chance of living out. Few humans can manage; a US farmer has little more chance to be one of them, that a dweller of New York. I am pretty sure I am not one of them. The few I trust to be able to cope, I pity, because this means they already have a shitty life, without all modern convenience, but i also envy.

Reply to  zzy
January 25, 2018 6:48 am

It wouldn’t be that difficult for a farmer to shift back to ancient farming techniques and continue to feed his family and neighbors.

Reply to  zzy
January 25, 2018 7:51 am

You’re taking this scenario literally. Can you not see the OP’s main point? A farmer in Iowa or California is far more “self-sufficient” than people living in New York City or LA. That’s the point. Just like the old days, farmers today can harvest wildlife for meat. They can have chickens and pigs and eggs. They can grow gardens all in addition to their crops. In short, in regards to food (the topic of this post), a farmer is infinitely more self-sufficient than city dwellers (the enviro-wackies).
The point being made here is that cement jungles like New York City or L.A. can’t produce ANY food to support themselves. People living in cities have NO IDEA where their food comes from and have NO appreciation of how good they have it–never in the history of humanity have so many people had completely stable, reliable and delicious food with the only effort needed to obtain said food is a short trip to the supermarket.
My cousin and others living in New York pretend to “care” about the environment yet they have no idea how artificial their existences are. They have no idea where their water comes from. A farmer knows where his water comes from. City dwellers have no idea where their bread, coffee or chickens come from. Farmers do. And they have no idea where their electricity comes from or where their waste from their toilets go–farmers do.
And the New York City citizen has no idea that their artificial world would last only a day before all hell broke loose if their electricity, water, sewage system, roads, railroads and airports were to stop functioning. You actually saw that happen when NYC had some minor flooding recently. People in high-rise apartments were left helpless–no water, no sewage system and trapped in their cement coffins.
That’s the point.

Reply to  zzy
January 25, 2018 8:18 am

paqyfelyc–You obviously have never heard of Dick Proenneke. He lived for over 30 years in the Alaskan wilderness and their wasn’t a happier guy on earth than him. He didn’t have a “shitty life”–in fact his “quality of life” was probably much better than most of the people living in America today. And he managed quite well with no electricity or modern conveniences. He only had simple hand tools, a Springfield ’03 rifle, pistol, fishing rod and his wits.
You talk like a city slicker who hasn’t even gone wilderness camping. Just how did the pioneers manage in the old days? Did they lead miserable “shitty lives”? You insult the millions of Americans who built this country literally with their bare hands. And back in those days there weren’t any helpless and spoiled urban environmentalists. People like that got weeded out quite quickly.

Reply to  zzy
January 25, 2018 9:26 am

The fact is, pioneers did all they could to improve their lives, and here we are. May be some of them, offered the choice to live as we do or as they did, would choose the second, but since all of our ancestors (their descendants) did the very opposite (except a few Amish), I very much doubt so. For sure, there may be a few happy Dick Proenneke, or “back to the trees” Uncle Vania (why I ate my Father), but few people follow this backward path, for some reason.
Your cousin and other enviromons talking about nature surely don’t have a clue about what this really means, but your saying they wouldn’t survive, as true as it was, just missed the mark.
Just suggest introducing back wolves, boars and bears, etc. in Central Park, whatever happens. Then, their love of Nature will be tested.

Walter Sobchak
January 24, 2018 5:29 pm

In “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change”
Jonah Goldberg reviewed the history of progressivism and fascism. He demonstrates that both American progressivism (a/k/a liberalism) and European Fascism are branches of the socialist tree, and that European fascists were talking about and implementing many of the same ideas that are popular now on the American Left including things like organic food. There is a section of a chapter titled: “The Nazi Cult of the Organic”. Contemporary “progressives” are singing out of an old hymn book with some really foul fingerprints on it.

January 24, 2018 7:38 pm

Nearly everyone of those attacks against some major aspect of modern civilisation’s essential underlaying support systems, be they food and food production / farming, the essential to all civilisations electrical power supply systems, water with its elitist zealotry against the building of new dams, the Coal industry where a single coal mine and its electrical generation power plant might cover the equivalent area to that of a couple of suburbs of a city out of say 10, 000 square kilometres in area, four million inhabitants city.
And that coal mine and its generated electrical power can, would and does supply the power needs of that entire city as and when required and at a price all of its citizenery can afford.
All of these attacks on the fundamentals for human survival, the infrastructure that is the basis of a human cityn and absolute basic essentials for human survival and for the maintenance of a civilisation seem to invariably begin and are sustained by the abject ignorance of the self promoting Elitst zealots who are to be found in almost their entirety to be part of the highly paid and usually government associated and government paid inner city living zealots.
Zealots that are from politics. academia, particularly so here in Australia at present , bureacrats, greens and public media whose very ignorance of the roles of those civilisation supporting factors is only surpassed by their total and abject ignorance of the world outside of their own severely limited inner city goat cheese circles that they reside in.
To those elitist environmental zealots, electricity comes out of a switch in a wall, water comes out of a tap. Human waste just goes down a hole somewhere when you press the button, the street lights work by magic,
And that essential Food in all its variety,, who needs farmers anyhow as the Super markets always have huge amounts of food on their shelves and a few organic farmers can supply a city anyhow if you want something different and “healthier ” along with the assorted wild life and fungal products in” organic” food!
Those same elists green environmental zealots who decry the destruction of the Holy environment by anybody else are totally blind to the immensity of the environmental destruction of the natural wild life and natural vegetation they themselves have created in creating the cities through their demands for a life style to suit themselves where they live in the cities of today.
Take Melbourne , capital of the state of Victoria here in Australia; covering very roughly an area of more than 10,000 square kilometers and housing nearly four million citizens.
The Environment, that Holy environment of the environmental zealots and elitists who decry and fiercely oppose anybody who might want to create something of benefit to Australia and Australians and to do it outside of the city limits, even if those developments are two thousand kilometres away and near to Australia’s outback where only a few locals live, the zealots of the environmental green organisations will do everything in their power to prevent any progress, all the while residing in their comfortable inner city environment, ignorant in the extreme as to why they can live that life style and do so where nothing of any significance is left that is of a natural Australian character.
They are so utterly and near criminal deliberately blind and mentally warped and so wrapped up in their own self importance as “protectors of the environment” that they are totally blind to the few thousands of square kilometres of concrete and macadam and bricks and steel and waste lands and golf courses and horse farms ans used car yards and towering buldings because there ins no room left in 7.8 million square kilometres of the Australian continent, the covering all of that 10,000 square kilometres of a city where once the magnificent trees of the ranges grew down to the edges of Port Philip Bay , the wild Australian shrubs and the tiny wild flowers bloomed, the small animals skitttered about amongst the plants and the plant debris as they went about their business , Australia’s unique large animals grazed in the open grasslands.
Sometimes the wild fires came and went and a new begining was made with fresh growth as only the Australian fire adapted fauna and flora can make such a new beginning.
I am eighty years old and I have seen close to half or more of that wild natural environment destroyed in and around what is now Melbourne city over my eighty years without a single peep of protest being heard from those same Elitist Environmental Zealots who protest the building of a mine two thousand kilometres or more away for the city.
A mine that might in area cover the equivalent area of two or three suburbs in Melbourne.
I have seen where once the native animals roamed and lived and thrived and the plants and scrublands and magnificent trees of the Australian Bush once thrived being bull dozed down and then the whole area being covered in concrete and macadam and bricks and glass and steel factories and junk yards and used car yards and endless miles of little boxes where its citizens” live”, each with its artificial and introduced species of plants and its introduced animals and rarely a native animal or plants in any number can be found..
Rarely is there a patch left of the true natural local environment that has not been “Groomed “out of any semblence to the reality of the local Natural environment.
The wild things and native trees and bushes and scrublands in all their immense splendour are gone, destroyeduntil a time when mankind no longer is a power upon this planet.
If you are a city dweller and unlike those far from the pollution of the city, you can no longer see the vast glittering array, the spendour on a clear cold night of the massed stars of the Milky Way, [ thats if you even know that the Milky Way exists,] spreading in its great band from horizon to horizon as dust and smoke and steet lighting and flashing signs in the myriads of thousands blank out the spendour of the stars and even that of the rising Moon.
Perhaps it is time that the arrogant elites in the city to be made to actually suffer deprivation and forego all that abundance of food on those super market shelves and the running taps of water and power at the flick of a switch.
Only then would they begin to realise in their tiny self congraturalory, self satisfied, selfish in the extreme mentalities that maybe there are one hell of a lot of ordinary people on this planet who enable them to exist in that very self satisfying life style they believe that they and theynalone in their arrogance created and which they believe they are the chosen ones to entitled to live there as their right above that of all other humanity.

Reply to  ROM
January 25, 2018 8:10 am

Excellent post, thank you.

January 25, 2018 1:00 am

While this was not true in the past, the problem with world hunger today is not due to any shortage of food. The planet has no problem producing any amount of food required of it. The problem of world hunger is poverty. Poor people around the world cant afford to buy the food they need. The solution is that poor people around the world need to be more productive ( jobs and trade ) so they can BUY food. Farmers will continue to produce what they can sell but if you cant pay for it, you arent getting any.

Reply to  StandupPhilosopher
January 25, 2018 3:02 am

The problem of world hunger is not even poverty. It is politics.
When people cannot afford food, there always are people charitable enough to give them.
Only politics can prevent charitable person to be able to donate food to those in need

January 25, 2018 4:59 am

US: Forage protein may not be what it once was
An examination of forage nutritional quality measurements taken for 22 years found a continued decreased in the level of available protein, says researcher… Read
I snipped this from my newsletter at
and the same is true of the foods we eat, chem fertilisers simply dont get processed by soil biota to make them as assimilable as natural applications do.
i refer those of you supporting chem ag to read The Albrecht Papers
decades of continual research documented and proven

Reply to  ozspeaksup
January 25, 2018 6:51 am

I know full well that science isn’t a democracy. However, anyone can find a crank paper here and there.

Reply to  MarkW
January 25, 2018 9:28 am

actually, crank paper are at least 95% of the papers.

George Lawson
January 25, 2018 10:10 am

This excellent article talks about ‘Environmentalists’ without making specific reference as to who these environmentalists are that are propagating their stupid anti farming rubbish. Apart from animal rights groups, are their any individuals or other groups that we can direct the logical arguments to , and try to get them to defend their stupid stance.

Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 11:20 am

I hate to beat a winning horse, but this is just once again the pattern of what happens when you argue with stupid people, and they drag you down to their level by allowing them to beg the question, and thereby forcing you to prove a negative.
This could all be avoided by sticking to the scientific method of forcing the proponent to Bear the burden of proof before responding to them.
Thus once again, it is preaching scientific protocols on both sides that causes the conflict.

Joel Snider
January 25, 2018 12:19 pm

Why is food under attack? Very simple. Eco-fascists are anti-human and anything that promotes the comfort, proliferation, or even the survival of the human race is to be destroyed.

January 25, 2018 7:05 pm

So how successful would we have been if CO2 remained at 300 ppm?

January 26, 2018 2:29 pm

Mark W,
When did Showa Denko corporation announce to the world that it was going to be shoving genetically engineered product down the gullets of its customers??:
The display of religious faith, by alleged skeptics, towards anything a corporation does in the name of glorious capitalism, is just a little but sickening.
[?? .mod]

February 5, 2018 2:58 am

Great point! I agree with you to a lot of extent. Perhaps the behemoth expense we while on agriculture only drive home the point that we are just another animal in the food chain whose primary needs include food. mostly. However, technology has always tended to undo itself, and everyday newer, better, faster technology come up. i think the argument is not so much that we are blaming farmers but their practice. Going forward, the discussion should be on reducing resource consumption and on increasing yield sustainably so that we can feed the earth 100 years down the line

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