The original source for the three part definition seems to be misleading
simplification of a 1984 analysis by Gordon Douglass. Douglass described
three schools of thought regarding agricultural sustainability. The
"community school" , in contrast to the other two schools, "pays most
attention to the effects of different agricultural systems on the vitality,
social organization, and culture of rural life". "[I]t's members are also
ecologically minded, but their prime interest is in promoting vital,
coherent, rural cultures that encourage the values of stewardship,
self-reliance, humility, and holism".
The "social aspects" then become not one leg of sustainability, but the
entire foundation. Any economic or ecological "profit or loss" results from
these social structures. Such an approach underscores the qualitative
difference of sustainable and conventional agricultural systems.
Think about abandoning component thinking for a more holistic approach.
Aren't "vital, coherent rural cultures" common to all sustainable
Stressing profit and ecology instead, as we have here in the U.S., have led
us into our present quagmire of agricultural crisis. Social organization
which encourages "the values of stewardship, self-reliance, humility and
holism," appears to provide the long-term solution. Yet we've allowed such
concepts to be marginalized to the point of extinction in ag policy debates.
Douglass' book, Agricultural Sustainability in the New World Order, in out
of print, but a webpage discussing some of his ideas can be found at
www.canr.msu.edu/bailey/background/pub 3. htm.
From: Hal Hamilton <email@example.com>
To: Wilson, Dale <WILSONDO@phibred.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tuesday, July 06, 1999 11:34 AM
Subject: RE: Social and political aspects (was: Questions on organic
>Sustainable agriculture, as defined by Congress and many others, has a
social leg to balance environmental and economic legs.
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