July 29, 2013

Matt Ridley, Call your Office!

In his superb "The Rational Optimist" [Review Corner], Matt Ridley describes an optimistic and rational view of feeding the planet well and returning agricultural acres to wilderness. One might think the environmental crowd would be onboard. But, alas and alack, it uses technology.

Missouri farmers Blake and Julie Hurst take to the pages of AEI to have sport with a snooty locavorist column in The Smithsonian. The whole thing is great, but this section caught my eye:

We just bought a new planter here on our corn and soybean farm in Missouri. It will allow us to move a bit further toward adopting "precision farming." The planter communicates directly with global positioning satellites and will, using yield maps developed over several years, allow us to vary seed population rates over the field. We will plant more seeds in places where yields are typically high, and sow fewer seeds where yields have been lower. The machines that fertilize the farm will have access to the same information and satellites, allowing us to apply the optimal amount of nutrients precisely on each fractional acre in the field. We will be farming with a level of precision, economy, and individuality that has never before been possible. We will be spoon feeding our crops in a way that means each corn field might as well have been grown by, well, an artisan. We'll have that local knowledge that Wendell Berry so eloquently wrote about in the books and essays that were the founding documents of what is now the "food movement."

I cannot imagine any of my lefty pals enjoying that paragraph like I do. It encompasses capital, innovation and making life better. It describes truly sustainable agriculture Yet little of it would be popular in Boulder or on my Facebook feed.

(POSSIBLY UNDERMINIG THE THESIS) UPDATE: Kyle Smith:

What is "the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history" Hint: It has 390 calories. It contains 23g, or half a daily serving, of protein, plus 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and so on.

Also, you can get it in 14,000 locations in the US and it usually costs $1. Presenting one of the unsung wonders of modern life, the McDonald's McDouble cheeseburger.

Environment Technology Posted by John Kranz at July 29, 2013 1:10 PM
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