Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Food Nightmare Beneath Our Feet: We're Running Out of Soil

Each year the world loses an estimated 83 billion tons of soil. What does this mean for food production and what can we do about?

John Jeavons is saving the planet one scoop of applesauce at a time. Jeavons stands at the front of the classroom at Ecology Action, the experimental farm he founded on the side of a mountain above Willits, in Northern California’s Mendocino County. For every tablespoon of food he sucks down his gullet, he scoops up six spoonfuls of dirt, one at a time for dramatic effect, and dumps them into another bowl. It’s a stark message he’s trying to get across to the 35 people who have come from around the country to get a tour of his farm -- simplified, to be sure, but comprehensible: For every unit of food we consume, using the conventional agricultural methods employed in the U.S., six times that amount of topsoil is lost. Since, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the average person eats a ton of food each year, that works out to 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms) of topsoil. John Jeavons estimates that using current farming practices we have 40 to 80 years of arable soil left. Read more...


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