Permaculture . . . the real cost of the global food system

“First feel fear, then get angry. Then go with your life into the fight.” Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison describes permaculture as a common sense, practical way to design your life. The system came to him in a moment of revelation. He chose the term ‘permaculture’ because of its Latin roots: ‘permanens’ meaning lasting, continuing, ongoing, persisting, persevering and ‘culture’ which comes from the Latin ‘cultus’, which means ‘care’, and from the French ‘colere’ which means ‘to till’ as in ’till the ground’.

“The global food system is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined. The global warming this is causing is now damaging food production through extreme weather events such as floods and droughts… The food system also fails to properly nourish billions of people.” The Guardian

This lasting care… is the polar opposite of the global food system which today is responsible for economic, social and environmental problems that if we are ever to turn them around require local and global balancing acts: accommodating the undertakings of the food system necessary to sustain human life while simultaneously addressing population growth, individual and collective wellbeing, equitable fiscal structure and rehabilitating at best conserving at least our planet’s ecological life support system.

As economic, social and environmental activities are replicated cooperatively earth-wide their effects have cumulative regional and global reach. The larger the human population necessarily the greater requirement for food production via primary industry supported by secondary, creating concurrent economic growth and pressure. However, while distribution of both is socially inequitable, at the same time the environmental impact is ultimately broad.

Ecological tipping points resultant of agricultural, horticultural and manufacturing productivity and intensifying human activity are driven by negative economic, social and environmental factors fueled not only by natural demand but by unnatural focus on shortsighted commercial benefits; corporate profits, shareholder dividends and lack of cognisant accountability.

Circular economic, social and environmental causalities vs casualties of non-earth-sustainable practices are: food as a commodity vs food as a common good; survival of the richest vs partition of human health and welfare into haves and have-nots; decimation of traditional nurturing cultural values and communities vs societal disenfranchisement in fractured urban and regional populations; shortsighted political policy and regulation vs undersubscribed environmental education and awareness; capitalist and political power-mongering driven industrial commodification vs undermined regenerative organic sustainable long-term viable farming practices; selfish acquisitiveness vs unattainable fair trade; balance sheet conservation practices vs earth care’s negligible short-term pecuniary value.

Destabilisation of economic, social and environmental factors creates a critical interconnectivity: industrialisation; commodification; urbanisation; market dominance of monopolists and oligopolists; inequality; poverty; poor health; monocropping pressure; chemical misuse; compromised water and air quality; land and soil degradation; climate change; and stress and/or extinction of non-human species and habitat.

To accomplish ecological stability requires intersected prioritisation of: accountability; deceleration of population growth; grassroots education; environmentally sustainable enterprises; and fairly remunerated business and employment opportunities to accomplish a truly sustainable supply of natural resources to the global food system.

“Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.” – Vandana Shiva, Indian physicist and author of Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis

Your thoughts? Comments welcome.

real food_collage
Going with my life into the food fight… literally, armed with real food and a real attitude. I do what I can with what I’ve got. Some – the lemons and the nasturtiums, parsley and garlic for the pesto are homegrown in our garden that needs more water than it gets. Some – the bread, pesto, yoghurt and preserved lemons are homemade. The other comes from the best choices I can make and afford at the supermarket.

Between now and July 2020 I’m studying Certificate IV Permaculture via Tafe NSW and the National Environment Centre flexible online learning. Studying online, I discovered, involves a lot of writing. This year of study, I think, might lend itself to some blog posts… follow along if you are interested in learning what I learn during my permaculture journey.

5 thoughts on “Permaculture . . . the real cost of the global food system

  1. You are taking small but important steps, and the contents of your plate are evidence of that! Looks yummy, does you good, and you in turn are doing the earth that produced it good.


  2. I read something interesting recently on the pages of Extinction Rebellion, a group I admire and belong to- plenty of oldies do and that is, that the most important step in the deceleration of population growth is the education of women. Food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting. My first reaction to the thought that women control population growth was sort of stating the obvious but then when I think about it, it goes deeper. There are a lot of layers to the culture of childbearing and the place of women in society. However, the education of women, I believe, is the answer to pretty much everything when that education leads to empowerment in an enabling rather than control sense.

      Liked by 1 person

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