Dr. Vandana Shiva – Growing good food is a revolutionary act

“To grow good true food. The next revolution”

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, ecofeminist and anti-globalisation author that is based in Delhi. Here she gives a powerful talk

Industrial agriculture is another form of colonialism

Vandana talks about how we need to change our paradigm. She says “we have all been victim as well as nature of a worldview that is mechanical in its thought, technocratic it its tools, and greedy in it’s economy” She discusses. If we want to live sustainable then we need to explore the wider factors that are leading to unsustainable that are effecting our communities and wider nature.

Our current food system and industrial agriculture has it roots in war

She says we need a new paradigm. Our current food system and industrial agriculture has it roots in war. She talks about the links between our current food system and war and how the companies that are driving our agriculture systems have their origin in war. 

The chemicals being used in agriculture have their roots and ingredients as instruments of war.  Vandana says that the chemical gasses used in World War 2 that were used to kill people in the concentration camps is the same technology that is used in our agricultural systems. She also says that the companies that made it then are the same companies that make it now. These are Bayer and Monsanto.  The factories that make ammunition are also the factories that make the chemical fertilizers. It is the same process. The process is fossil fuels is burned atmospheric nitrogen and turned into ammonia. On one hand it becomes nitrate explosive and on the other hand it becomes synthetic fertilizers.

One reason why this is vital for us to understand Vandana warns is that the thinking it generates is a war mentality. Instead of biodiversity being our relative, insects pollinating our plants, soil organisms building soil. Everything becomes an enemy. Every plant and insect are turned into an enemy with pesticide and fungicides.

Centralised extractive monoculture systems

You cannot have diversity in a centralised extractive systems, the globalised food system must grow monoculture, chemicals cant tolerate diversity.  A supply chain and monoculture has massive food waste built in to it. Food is not just thrown away by consumers. It is thrown away in the field. If food isn’t uniform it is treats as hazardous for your health

A famine is not because of lack of food

Ireland and India are two examples of what can happen as a result of these systematic inequality and power structures. A famine is not because of lack of food but because of too much extraction, says Vandana. There was never a lack of food in Ireland. In fact there was lots of food. The problem was that the food was being taken from Ireland and sent to British colonies. Listen to this song by well know Irish singer Christy Moore that illustrates this point On a single Day – Christy Moore

Bad food is not cheap

Bad food is not cheap because it is cheap to produce. It is  very expensive to produce. It is cheap because it is massively subsidized and built of the suffering of the farmer who are under paid and nature.

Diversity is the key to a good food system

Diversity then grows with decentralisation. And diversity is the key to a good food system. A real food system has a diversity of plants, insects, soil organisms. These are then matched to nutritional density of our food. Soil diversity then supports diversity in our gut. Our gut microbiome needs diversity.

Can small feed the world?

80% of the food we eat currently is from small scale growers and mainly local. Only 20% is from large scale industrial systems. These don’t produce food, they produce commodities . 90% of the corn and soy grown world wide go to biofuel and animal feed, So when you ask can small feed the world, it is the only way the world can be fed. 

It is more productive. Small scale also allows for diversity and to be decentral. Local food systems means more food, more diversity, more circularity, more connections with the different communities of life. 

Yield of nutrition/Health per acre?

Yield only measures some stuff leaving for the market, not food. It doesn’t measure soil quality, it doesn’t measure nutrition, it doesn’t measure quality of food. Vandana talks about her farm at Navdanya  https://navdanya.org/ . She said “we don’t measure yield per acre; we measure nutrition per acre and health per acre”.