Well NOW I'm cynical.
Part II was a 'Big Organic' meal from Whole Foods....a roast chicken, veggies, a salad and ice cream which cost the author $34 [which is as much as my family spends on conventional food in a week.]
So the big question is..is industrialized organic food any better than conventional food?
Yes and no.
Yes in that the reductionist NPK approach isn't working. That is....
Sure fertilizers help the richness of the soil. But what's in fertilizers?
3 things, Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potassium. [NPK.]
Although those chemicals help with plant growth, they don't provide many of the trace elements that plants need to produce certain nutrients [like vitamins and polyphenols.] So organic PRODUCE is indeed more nutritious.
Organic animals, however, are a different story. The chickens and cows from Whole Foods aren't treated any differently from the livestock at regular old factory farms. You're just paying out the ass for them. They don't seem to be more nutritious, since they are fed with almost the same stuff as regular livestock - that is, corn. [ORGANIC corn. heh.]
A lot of the appeal of Whole Foods is that it makes people feel like they're doing something good for themselves and for the environment. In some cases they are, but they generally aren't.
In order for a national organic supermarket to exist and be profitable, it has to get its produce from gigantic collective farms, and then ship stuff all over the US. The fossil fuels needed to fly things all over the world, to your neighborhood Whole Foods, are comparable to the amount one would use in conventional crops.
The term organic is meaningless, because farmers have created all kinds of loopholes to get around DA OFFICIAL RULES. For instance, instead of using herbicides, organic farmers till the soil repeatedly...this ruins the productivity of the soil. Although organic farmers aren't allowed to use official fertilizers, they can use mineral nitrogen..which kind of defeats the whole getting away from the NPK mentality. Although the lovely white American employees get paid well, the migrant workers, as usual, get treated like crap.
So, basically, Whole Foods is an overpriced yuppie-mart.
but then WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE SUPPOSED TO EAT? and for that matter, what is the WORLD supposed to eat? Conventional sucks, organic sucks.
The author's answer..judging by the title of the next chapter..is small-scale pre-industrial farms. Which is nice, if you want to deal in agricultural masturbation. But how can we stay big while respecting our health, animals' health, and the environment?
Industrial isn't going anywhere. But how do we make it better?
-Polyculture without polyculture...3 different varieties of the same crop..in alternating rows, or in a patchwork format?
-Compost as fertilizer [regional composting initiatives?]
-Growing more locally. Dealing with seasonal foods, to an extent.
I just wish I knew more about feeding people.