Originally Published on OpEdNewsI got an early start this morning, doing a few hours of farm labor-- weeding and squishing beetles on broccoli plants (it's an organic farm.) It's nice to get back to nature. Afterwards, I chatted with John, the farmer who runs the farm, told him I was writing a book about bottom-up, and asked him how it applies to farming.
He replied that on earth, life begins with soil. There is more biomass below the surface, in the soil, like bacteria and fungus, than above, "even including elephants." And he explained that organic, small farmers work with the living things below the surface, for fertilizer, for growing. On the other hand, big factory farms kill everything below the surface, with things like methyl bromide, then add chemical fertilizers like phosphoric potassium nitrate, and then they spray to kill weeds and bugs. Organic farmers plant ground cover plants. They take the approach that things start below the surface of the soil, then add cover plants, then seedlings, then crops. People who are part of the co-op and a few paid workers, usually students or farmers in training, do the planting, weeding, harvesting. The harvested food goes to local community members with a stake in the farm. The bottom-up approach to farming is small, local, and good for the environment.
The top down approach-- kill all the living things in the soil, artificially-- chemically-- fertilize. Take a plane and fly over a crop to dust it with toxic pesticides. Harvest with big machines. Move the produce by truck and train thousands of miles away. Big corporations either own the land or contract with big farmers and then sell to grocery store chains or fast food or restaurant chains.
We need to start asking how we can move the big corporations to start seeing with bottom-up eyes to find bottom-up solutions that are good for the earth and healthier. There's a lot of gasoline in food that is transported a thousand miles.