Is the Current Food System Efficient?

Food miles (

Diversity of species = efficiency, functional diversity. Pic from Brady and Weil page 486 Griffiths, 2000 data. Modern systems simplify, reducing jobs done and efficiency.

Earthworms and dung beetles intro led to more vegetation and increased carrying capacity (brady and weil page 493)


Modern U.S. agriculture has been described as “the most efficient in the world, at least in terms of the dollar and cent costs of production.”1 The public health and ecological costs of industrialization, however, are not reflected in the prices of food.” ( : reference- Ikerd JE. Sustaining the profitability of agriculture. In: Economist’s Role in the Agricultural Sustainability Paradigm. San Antonio, TX: University of Missouri; 1996.) Wendell Berry’s quote about food system not caring about health and health system not caring about food.


Risks from specializing, monocropping, using fewer varieties: “Citrus greening, otherwise known as huanglongbing (HLB), has wreaked havoc in Florida, says Bill Dawson, a molecular virologist and longtime HLB researcher at the University of Florida. Because of the nutrition management programs and other mitigation strategies they must now use on their trees, growers in the Sunshine State spend three times the money to produce half as much fruit, Dawson says. And in some cases, the fruit still doesn’t taste as good as it used to.” (

Every Farm a Factory pg 5: Fixating on “efficiency” which was an idea from assembly line industries, so farms were pushed to become factories. Case IH promotion even said to make every farm a factory. But the trouble is that farming is inherently biological. Biology is complex, we don’t understand all the rules, it’s messy, it’s unpredictable. It’s understandable why we want to tame nature and provide a reliable food, feed and biofuel supply, but nature always wins. Treating a biological system in an industrial manner won’t turn out well. Pg 8: a more rational and businesslike farming system. Nature is often irrational and not businesslike.


Every farm a factory pg 90, 118