Summary of Major Changes in Agriculture
In the previous pages, I have tried to give a brief listing of the changes in the last century to field agriculture, animal husbandry, harvesting, storage and processing of crops.
It seems to me that these changes are so extensive that a number of points can be made:-
- Agriculture is now clearly an industry. "Industrialisation" may not be complete yet, but the process may be 80% complete in the UK, and it is likely to continue further.
- To put this another way, we have moved from traditional "farming" to modern "agri-business"
- "Agri-business" is like any other business - it makes its decisions on the basis of profitability, and tends to prefer short-term profit to long-term prospects.
- Perhaps the changes in diet and nutrition I have described can now be described as a "quantum change". It is now possible to have a diet of foods which didn't even exist or were not available here 100 years ago (eg Pot Noodles)
A Personal Note. There have been major changes to food production in the last century.
As a sort of scientist, I would comment that normally in an experiment, you would keep most of the population unchanged in all its behaviour and actions (the control group), and you do experiments on a small number of subjects, varying one factor at a time. However, what has been done in the “Industrial West” amounts to an experiment on the whole of the population simultaneously.
As a wholefood vegetarian, I have tried to take part in the experiment as little as possible ! I’m especially glad that I haven’t eaten meat for 40 years, and that I have stayed with wholemeal bread throughout. Although I’m a vegetarian, I think I’ve been fair in what I have written, and I recognise that many of the original problems of famine and food losses to pests have now been resolved.
As a former gardener, I know that there are some crops that don’t get many pests, and I prefer to buy these in the shops – parsnips, leeks, brussels sprouts that mature over winter, and potatoes and bean family that don’t get problems most years. I try not to eat imported foods, especially strawberries at Christmas – I don’t see how they can be OK. I don’t have a high level of trust in the food that is on offer.