Small scale, organic farming is the future for a post peak oil world.

January 15, 2010

The Power of Community is an inspiring documentary is about how Cubans were forced to return to the land and grow food.  After peak oil, when the country was nearly completely cut off from imports, both in terms fossil fuels and in terms of food, Cubans could not longer feed themselves using the highly mechanized, chemically-driven agriculture of the Green Revolution.  Suddenly organic, urban farms were feeding much of the country and the farmer became the most respected (and well paid) member of society, the man who knew how to train oxen the most valuable of all. Today the people are healthier, happier, and completely independent of fossil fuels to put food on the table, an unbelievable feat in today’s globalized food system.  Now the country is exporting bio-pesticides to other Latin American countries and stands proudly as an example of what local food production has to offer.

Discussion at the close of the film hung on the fact that Cubans were forced to change the way they lived and ate, they had no other option but to grow for themselves. How can we convince Americans, who have adopted the mindset that having enough money is the only thing that prevents one from buying something to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels? If I pay for them, why can’t I use them? Because the resoviors are drying up and the horizon is filling with thick, black smoke!  The room was filled with environmentally minded people, mostly of whom were at the Somerville Public Library for the CSA forum hosted by Somerville Climate Action. While I agree that a catastrophe like what they call “The Special Period” in Cuba is the only thing that will push most people over the edge and into urban farming, some people are trying their hands. We have a new wave of young farmers out there and if you don’t believe me go see The Greenhorns.  I am filled with optimism about the future of food production in the US, though we have a long way to go, and using Cuba as a model is certainly not a bad idea.  Though maybe a bit overstated at times, the Power of Community is truly a must see.

Somerville Climate Action hosts documentary screenings at the Somerville Public Library’s Central Branch, 79 Highland Ave, the second Monday of each month. Groundwork Somerville is screening Fresh at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, at 6pm on January 25.


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