Industrial food and farming is based on practices, principles and mechanisms which are not compatible with equitable and truly sustainable development, human or planetary welfare. Since agriculture dominates over 50% of the primary biological metabolism of the planet’s terrestrial systems and food production is also shaping the development of the seas and arctic regions, how we manage food production is essentially how we manage the planet. Almost all major environmental challenges are strongly linked to our food production system.
Most people feel a profound discomfort over how their food is produced and how this affects both the quality of the food and the world we live in. As a response to this organic farming, fair trade and alike has developed. However, these systems are by and large still subject to the endless competition in the market place, and increasingly so the more successful they are, which limits their transformational power. Real change of our farm and food system must be linked also to changes in social institutions. Because of the pivotal role of food and its way of engaging people it is also the best starting point for the building of such institutions. This has already begun with efforts such as community supported agriculture, local food movements, participatory guarantee systems and urban farming.
A truly regenerative food and farm system will close loops of flow of energy, nutrients and most importantly meaning and culture. It will also have to reflect the role of our agriculture system for management of the planet at large. Such a system can’t be based on the capitalist market’s imperatives of endless competition and rent-seeking.
This new path is a one of re-generation and co-production of resources, innovation, knowledge and meaning embedded in new relationships which to a large extent transcend the division between producers and consumers imposed on us by a capitalist market economy. Increasing prices of energy and general discomfort with the results of globalization will assist in the transformation. Like most earlier profound transformations of human society it will develop by a mix of new relations and adaptations of existing components and institutions.
Summary of speech at the 18th IFOAM Organic World Congress 2014.