There once was a time where humans were taller, stronger, and healthier. We didn’t toil in fields or starve from lack of money. We experienced sexual equality, light workloads, and plenty of leisure time. We had a diverse, nutritious diet, and didn’t struggle to keep our weight down. Then, came the fruition of the Neolithic Revolution, what Pulitzer Prize winning anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond called “a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.”
About 12,000 years ago, society shifted from a nomadic way of life hunting and gathering, and adopted a sedentary lifestyle domesticating plants and animals. How did this come about? There is no one answer, but what is known is that when conquering nations forced the conquered into agriculture, the conquered revolted with all their might. They knew this would be bad.
When society shifted from nomadic to sedentary, from gathering plants and hunting animals, to unsustainable, mono-cropping annuals and grain agriculture, we began to not only see our population skyrocket from 5 million people 10,000 years ago to well over 7 billion today, but we also saw a deficiency in vitamins and minerals. The average height of a male hunter-gatherer rested at a robust 5’7″, while the average modern man resides at 5’2″, and women’s pelvic girdles narrowed so much so that death in pregnancy increased in frequency.
This image gives an indication of the impacts of grain agriculture– the wheat, rice, barley, sugar, and other cash crops like potatoes that have been proven to do us more worse than good.
Not only did the onset of traditional agriculture affect human health, but it has also had very detrimental effects on our environment. For example, agriculture is the largest single non-point source of water pollutants, such as fertilizers and pesticides, which often end up in lakes, rivers, and oceans due to runoff. It is also the cause of water scarcity in many places due to the overuse of surface and ground water for irrigation with very little concern for the natural cycle that maintains stable water availability.
In addition to this, conventional agriculture is the cause of the decline in soil productivity, as well as the reduced genetic diversity in crops due to reliance on genetic uniformity in most crops and livestock breeds, and the loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat. Finally, traditional agriculture is significantly linked to global climate change as the destruction of tropical forests and other native vegetation for agricultural production has a role in elevated levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
So… what does this mean? We have 7 billion mouths to feed here and I’m telling you that our topsoil is being destroyed, fertilizers and pesticides are poisoning our waters, native plants, animals and wetlands are dying off, and all for these non-nutritional cash-crops that are not giving us the diet we need… how are we going to feed everyone? Surely, we’ll starve, right?
We at Agripool are aiming to progress food production by utilizing and creating new systems that use less water and less energy, produce zero waste and even create clean energy by tapping into ancient techniques and utilizing post-modern technologies. These systems, such as anaerobic biodigestion, which acts within the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus by transitioning food waste-to-fuel-and-fertilizer. These types of systems are closed-loop in the FEW Nexus, using our burgeoning wastes to generate fertilizer and energy, which is then used to power the systems and accelerate bio-diverse, sustainable crop growth.
The fear of famine within history is contributed to the availability of water, or lack thereof. But with these new closed-loop systems, water is often captured and recharged, subsequently being put back into the system, or not even needed at all, like the commercial sized aquaponics system we are building on our farm.
Example of a large-scale Aquaponics system.
These technological systems are not the only thing serving to keep food production alive and well, so too are the natural and sustainable acts of permaculture and agroforestry.
An example of agroforestry. In Africa, combining citrus trees with intercropping can be instrumental to our sustainable farm.
Example of a permaculture farm with a broad array of intercropping, which is being implemented at Agripool’s farm.
Farming through permaculture, agroforestry and aquaponics are three types of ways Agripool is approaching food production in a sustainable manner. No more is the tearing down of trees and annihilation of biodiversity and habitat loss through conventional monocropping as these practices provide benefits to humans, animals, insects, and the environment. With these approaches to food production, humans and nature live in a symbiotic, harmonious relationship, nurturing themselves and the environment around them. At Agripool we will provide local, organic produce, and a home to biodiverse species, including plants, animals, and insects.
So, the moral of the story, no… we are not going to starve by taking on a sustainable approach to food production, Agripool will ensure that.