Excellent point about labor. The work of Ecology Action showed that farming with machinery burns 10 calories of energy (diesel fuel) for every calorie of food produced and that hand labor produces 100 calories of food for every calorie (food) used.
Now, food being a renewable resource and mostly produced on the farm, farms are more sustainable if they use hand labor.
The only problem with this is that most Americans today (Yipes, a generalization!) don't wan to work as hard as it takes to farm this way, just some farmers. Also, Americans want to earn at least a middle class income. And, we define success or sustain ability by these same monetary standards.
To farm with primarily hand labor can be done- I've been doing it for the past 8 years. We live on an income that's around poverty level but are the richest people around. It's a matter of priorities and stepping outside the American dream and valuing what's real.
Bob MacGregor wrote:
> you said: "It takes more labor to run an
> average organic farm and that is a REAL issue to most farmers."
> I agree, but have been wondering why none of the farm-philosophers on the list have raised the issue of why we still view labour substitution so favourably. After all, a strong case can be made that substituting machinery and chemicals for labour has contributed to global warming, accelerated rural depopulation (and the concommitent disintegration of rural communities), increased unemployment, exacerbated soil erosion/deterioration, promoted farm consolidation and otherwise engendered many of the problems we discuss on this list.
> There have also been positive effects, at least in the near-term, of course, but I am intrigued that no one voiced the view that more farm labour might be a good thing. I wonder how high the price of gasoline or diesel would have to be to make labour competitive again...?
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