This word, “sustainability” is getting thrown around so much these days I wonder if we really know what it means. The EPA defines sustainability as:
“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.”
This kind of statement should be self evident as a modality for continued survival on our small planet.
One glaring omission is the constraints on the lifestyle that we currently lead. Without much effort it is clear that our current lifestyle is not sustainable. We are depleting our natural “bank account” at such a rapid rate, we will hit zero soon (or perhaps we are already into the overdraft).
Agriculture has been implicit in this move towards disconnection and unrealistic lifestyle. The origins of organic agriculture in California have very high goals and aspirations. It seemed to be a move towards the kind of sustainability that I think we intuitively understand. Sadly, this has not been the case.
Organic agriculture has been commercialized and commodified to a very similar extent that conventional agriculture has. There are still the small family farms that hold to the tenets of sustainability with on site composting, crop rotation, cover cropping and biological pest control, however the drive to intensify production for profit leans very heavily on maintaining natural systems in a farming operation.
Stay tuned for more…..