The original message was received at Mon, 24 Jul 1995 12:57:37 -0400
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Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 12:57:59 -0400 (EDT)
From: "J. Lauri Scharf" <email@example.com>
To: Dick Richardson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: number of sustainable farmers?
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In reply to Dick Richardson's insights, which I found very helpful, I
would ask, is Cuba an opportunity to examine agriculture and
sustainability in a microcosm? I haven't learned much about their
situation yet, but from what I've heard it sounds like they are a nearly
closed system (in several ways). Given the island's relatively small
size, they obviously don't have the luxury of time that we, the rest of
the world, think we have.
Hopefully Cuba will supply us with an example of true sustainability,
making that a realistic choice for the US. The only question is, are we
ready to make such drastic changes BEFORE they are absolutely necessary?
Judging from our past, the answer is no.
Do we therefore take the best we have (i.e. organic ag.) and call it
"sustainable" and use it as a model for those less sustainable to emulate?
And then when the status quo has reached that level of sustainability,
will we start to criticize it and reach for new heights? Judging from
past patterns in development (of, for example, technology), the answer is
yes. For example, people were thrilled with the model T until they got
comfortable with 20 MPH; then they wanted to go faster.
Maybe I'm talking at too basic a level here, but I guess my conclusion is
that baby steps are easier to take than one giant leap into the new.
I think it will be easier to see the inherent unsustainability of organic
farmers using diesel tractors once the nation's ag. system doesn't
consume millions of tons of petroleum in chemicals. "Sustainable" is
perhaps a relative term. Does that follow your line of reasoning, Dick?
(Mr.) Lauri Scharf (grad. student)
Agriculture, Food and Environment