After more than six thousand years of row crop agriculture virtually all foods in the grocery store have been so altered they are “almost without nutritional substance–so Allison Stevens asserts in her online article: Nutritional Value of Wild Foods verses Cultivated Foods. Human cultivation produces “hybridized” plants and animals; and such interaction between people and natural sources of food alters the food we eat–often by reducing nutritional benefit.
What is now called “permaculture,” but I think of as “earth gardening,” is a system of thought and practice developed by Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s that attempts to mirror the interactive food producing relationship between indigenous peoples and their environment. While it is not equivalent, permaculture can serve as metropolitan society’s best understanding of direct human-environment living balance. The successful bi-directional interdependence between human-beings and the natural environment varies in form and practice among indigenous nations around the world. The differences between nations constitutes the variety of human/environment adaptions to micro-climates and environments. This organically evolved approach to diverse adaptions can be clearly recognized as the main success for all of human survival.
Despite the considerable benefit to human survival achieved through a balance between human want and nature’s capacity to reproduce more direct efforts to control nature (such as row cropping, pesticides, irrigation, transplantation and since the 1990s the use of genetic modification) methods for expanding the production of food for biological and commercial benefit introduced a radical alteration and basic reductions in the quality of food and nutrition.
Foods (animal and plant) produced as a direct consequence of natural interactions between plants, animals, and climate contain vastly more nutritional benefits for human beings than commercially produced foods. Simple nutritional comparisons between plants and animals in the “wild” their domesticated (commercial) equivalents reveal how sharply reduced are the nutritional values in commercial foods.
Chronic disease is rapidly consuming the global health budget where 80% of all health problems are chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, arthritis, allergies and autoimmune disease. Before the advent of “modern agriculture” (read: industrialized agriculture) such chronic conditions were a very small part of the human health profile.
The introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) now promises to accelerate the slow death syndrome where instead of quick death produced by physical traumas, or bacterial or viral infection chronic disease slowly kills its host by promoting attacks on the body by the body itself.
Human introduced disease by way of industrial food production and GMO promise to increase the pace of chronic disease throughout the world. In other words, commercial exploitation of human requirements for food has had and will continue to have a disastrous effect on human nutrition and human health. Human beings are killing people all around the world under the guise of “increasing food for everyone.”
Governments and businesses have joined hands to produce a huge wave of nutritional trauma (nutritional deficiencies) or malnutrition in populations dependent on cash/food relationship. Slowly, industrial food production and GMO have moved into indigenous populations through small stores. Instead of a people/environment/food that has long sustained human populations, indigenous peoples are themselves being moved into a cash/food relationship. The result is that chronic disease is increasingly ravaging indigenous nations around the world–particularly in countries like the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, and Spain.
Just as petroleum dependency fouls the human nest with spills, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and toxins in the food and water so will industrial/GMO food production foul the human nest by undermining the health of hundreds of millions of people, increase nutritional trauma and place more people on the slow death track of chronic disease.
Indigenous nations must know that their age-old systems of food production and the evolved adaptation of these systems to respond to climate and environmental changes are the systems on which all of humanity will have to turn if the current “new” systems fail. There is no doubt that these new systems will fail. When compared with the thousands of years humans have successfully engaged in “earth gardening” the current food production systems pail. Quantity for quality has been the exchange since the advent of industrial and GMO for production. Much more food with less or little nutritional value, but substantially more harmful content to the human body may be a commercial success, but it is a failure for human health and human survival.
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