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Home Grown: The Deindustrialized Revolution

Andrew S. Bambach

Madonna University
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Abstract

Industrialized Farming has taken over the globe allowing to feed millions of people. Yet this

doesn’t come at the price of the consumer and farmer. Industrial farming and genetically

modified organisms (GMOs) have put small farmers oh their heels or even out of business.

Consumers are growing further and further from their food not knowing where it comes from.

These genetically modified organisms can even lead to health problems for the consumer. The

solution to these problems is to bring agriculture back to the local community and create

sustainable agriculture, localized economy, involved community, and healthier consumers.

Sustainable agriculture is not just for the wealthy people being able to afford the produce, but for

all classes rich or poor. The first sustainable city project has gotten its start right here in Detroit

one of the poorest and damaged city in the United States. We the people need to put the choices

of food in our hands and it’s possible with a little support and initiative.
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Home Grown: The Deindustrialized Revolution

The Industrial Revolution which began in Britain in the late 1700s which moved mankind

from hand tools and basic machines, to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories, and mass

production. This Revolution is considered one of the greatest movements in all of mankind.

Scientists and inventors harnessed energy from Earth’s recourses and turned these raw materials

into living machines. It changed how people lived their lives. There was no longer a demand for

large amounts of people to pick cotton, work in textiles, plow fields, or mill wood. Machines had

taken the place of humans and animal power, and changed the culture of how civilization lived.

Instead of having to cross the country by horse and wagon which took months on top of months,

people could than hop on a train and get there in a matter of weeks. This revolution took people

from living on farmers to city dwellers living in high rises. This change would only deepen as

technological advances got more sophisticated. With an even newer age of globalization people

are becoming even more far-fetched from where all their goods come from. It has gotten to the

point that if a child asks their parents where the food they eat comes from they tell the child the

grocery store, because they themselves don’t even know where their food comes from. People

are even starting to fear the food they eat because science has biologically changed the food we

grow by altering the organism’s genes to be disease and pest resistant and be mass produced

which is causing people to be ill or even die. This disconnect has raised the eyes of American

citizens across the country and even people all around the globe. People are now starting to stand

up against “the system” or industrialized agriculture and have a say in what is in their food and

where it comes from. The disconnect of farm to table and industrialization of farming genetically

modified organisms has led to a resurgence of going back to localized sustainable food sources

and producing and eating larger amounts of locally grown food that people know where it was
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grown and who grew is quickly sweeping across the country not just in the farmlands of America

but in cities own backyards.

What started the sustainable agriculture movement and why has this caught the eyes of

so many American citizens? There isn’t just one event that caused people to want locally grown.

Anyone individual could have flocked to this cultural movement for any number of personal

reasons. Whether it’s they wish to eat healthier, feel responsible for their children’s health, don’t

support the inhumane ways large scale farms treat livestock, or just the simple reasoning for

wanting to know where their food comes from. Whatever reasoning, sustainable agriculture can

be the solution to all the problems. Patricia Allen said it best in her article in the Oxford

Academic saying, “For alternative agrifood social movements, food-system localization is both

an ideal and a pathway to resolve environmental, social and economic issues in the food system.”

(Allen 1). People are beginning to see the positive affect of what localizing food does. It’s not

only just a way to eat more nutritious and safer food, but it allows people living in the same

community when working together to interact, share ideas, and thoughts. Whether its sharing

ideas on how to cook a chicken they just bought from the farmer down the road. To talking to the

farmer that raised the chicken and learning that anyone can keep a couple of chickens in their

backyard. Meanwhile, people have lost many social skills because of the advances in technology

and social networking. People don’t interact face to face like they used to, and having a more

localized community that does interact like that makes for happier citizens. Perhaps people want

to help play their part in protecting the environment. In fact, according to Time “A 2006 report

from the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock were responsible for about

18% of human-caused greenhouse gases” (Walsh 1). Eighteen percent! That’s nearly a quarter of

our greenhouse gas produced. This statistic is not even including the pollution caused by the
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transportation, butchering, and mass production of the meat. Furthermore, the localization makes

economic sense for a lot of people. Now depending where you live and time of year produce will

vary in price but typically the prices are very similar and in a lot of cases the produce can be

cheaper at the farmer’s market. Whatever reason someone has for supporting the localization

sustainable food system they all have the same goal of living and supporting a healthier lifestyle.

Localized sustainable farming sounds nice and it’s a good idea but what about the people

that live in cities miles from the nearest farmer? Or what about the people less fortunate living in

poverty living pay check to pay check? How can these people be a part of the movement? Well

look at the MUFI or The Michigan Urban Farm Initiative. MUFI is a nonprofit organization that

looks the engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture. MUFI is

taking vacant lots located in Detroit’s North end and developing a two-square-block radius into

an urban farm. It is one-hundred percent volunteer run and its goal is to educate the community,

sustainability, and minimizing socioeconomic disparity. Localized sustainable farming isn’t just

for people that can afford to buy locally grown produce. With a little community support, even

one of the most impoverished cities in the United States can work towards sustainability. Sadly,

Detroit has the most upside for the movement because of how much foreclosed land there is

within the city. To put it in terms The Detroit News released an article stating “To get a sense of

the loss, consider all the houses in Warren, Livonia, Royal Oak, Southfield, and Allen Park.

Empty them. The number is still less than all the foreclosures in Detroit.” (Kurth, MacDonald).

While this comes as a depressing fact, plots of land are selling for less than a thousand dollars

and urban farming initiatives like the MUFI are taking advantages of these vacant lots and using

them to improve the community. Like the saying goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
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The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is just one example of how localized sustainability is

being applied to communities throughout the United States.

Another means of localized sustainable food sources is a CSA or Community Supported

Agriculture. CSAs are direct-to-consumer programs in which consumers buy a percentage of a

local farm’s projected harvest. There is a bit of risk in this because customers typically pay the

farmers before the growing season and run the risk of weather or other implements destroying

the crops. However, it is a great way to for people that want the farm to table food. They get to

meet the person growing their food and interact with them. According to the USDA they estimate

there are as many as two-thousand five-hundred CSAs throughout the US. CSAs not only help

consumers buy locally grown food but they help ensure in the preservation of local small

farmers. CSA members ensure small farmers can stay in business and the money they spend on

the produce stays local and within the local economy. This initial capital at the beginning ensures

the farmer will make money on their crop in terms when it comes to harvest time they don’t need

to charge a buffer for insurance. Overall CSAs are continuing to grow in popularity ensuring

local small town farmers won’t be run out of business by the large scale industrial farms.

What about the people that don’t have farmer’s markets, community initiatives, or CSAs?

Well these people take matters into their own hands. These people pick up the pitchfork, put on

their boots and grow their own food. Instead of it being a farm to table, it’s a few steps to table.

In fact, a small family living in the metropolis of Pasadena grew six thousand pounds of food in

one year, and they only live on one tenth of an acre. That’s about the size of a normal suburban

lot or even smaller. This family could almost solely live off all the food that they produce in a

year. Yet, for the people that live in an apartment or don’t live on a lot, they still make the most

with what they have. Whether it’s growing plants out of their window ledge or using growing
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lights. The movement towards locally grown food is growing on people and communities are

buying into the system of localized sustainable food sources.

While the localized sustainable food source movement continues to grow, there are still

people that have their doubts on to how large of a scale this movement can get. Other critiques

also believe there is nothing wrong with the food system now and how it is produced. Modern

farming’s goal is to produce the largest amount of food in the shortest time possible. They are

doing this by using science to genetically modify plants and animals to grow quicker and larger.

Mark Lynas who helped start the protests against GMOs said, “people who want to stick with

organic are entitled to—but they should not stand in the way of others who would use science to

find more efficient ways to feed billions.” The genetic literacy project went on to say “Such

technology could eliminate the current organic practice of planting legume cover crops, which

are subsequently plowed down to trap nitrogen in the soil. This could cut an organic farmer’s

fuel bill by as much as 50 percent!” (Wager). The pro GMO critiques say that consumers are

more likely to get hit by an asteroid than hurt by genetically modified food. “Everyone from the

European Union (EU) to the World Health Organization (WHO), National Academies of Science

(NAS), Health Canada to the local Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) agree there is

no evidence of harm from consuming food made with GM ingredients.” (Wagner). So really can

the industrial farming and GMOs be bad for people if all the governments all around the world

allow for it to continue. The GMO activists even take it one step further taking aim at the organic

farming and criticizing them for their lack of sanitation. Pointing out one case in particular, ” In

one notorious recent case involving the finding of a novel strain of O104:H4 (E.coli) bacteria

linked to an organic farm in Lower Saxony in Germany in 2011, 3,950 people were affected and

53 died.” (Wagner). Industrialized farming and GMOs are the leaders in in food production and
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supply food to millions of people all around the world. So really how bad are GMOs and factory

farms for people and why is it such a debate? With all of this said People are still moving

towards a localized food system and for good reasons.

So, why do so many people question the scientists that created genetically modified

organisms and the pro factory farm activists? Well, for starts while all these people say nothing is

wrong with the way they grow, this food and it has so health effects. How much do they really

know? GMOs have only been around for twenty years. Twenty years is not a long enough time to

tell whether or not these foods will have an impact on consumer’s health. The other argument

about the health risks isn’t even involved with the biological makeup of the plants and animals.

It’s about what these farms are using to grow the livestock and crops. The farms that raise

livestock treat them with hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and maximize growth. The

scary thing is that these hormones and antibiotics stay in the animals and animal products that

consumers eat. “By the 1970s, researchers began warning regulators that routine use of

antibiotics was contributing to a surge in drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render

antibiotics powerless against deadly infections.” (AP). The problem with this is the lack of

knowledge that consumers have on the food that they purchase at the supermarkets. Not only

does this style of agriculture affect the health of the consumer but it hurts the local economies.

These large-scale farms are subsidized by the United States government allowing them to afford

these large quantities with all of the modern expensive machinery. But how is this hurting the

local small scale farmers? Well these large-scale farms grow so much good that they can

drastically reduce the price per pound of food that they grow. This leaves the small farms

scrambling to stay in competition with them driving down their prices which in terms results in a

greater loss of revenue. Ninety percent of the food grown in the United States comes from family
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farms. But this is bit of a miss conception. While the statistic is true, the majority of the ninety

percent comes from family farms that once used to be “conventional” farms but have gotten lost

in the mix of industrialized farming technics. Many small farms can’t keep up with these factory

farms and end up becoming bankrupt. This has scared so many people away from the agriculture

industry and is gradually starting to threaten it. “According to the Labor Department, the median

age for farmers and ranchers is 55.9 years” (Kurtzleben). The average age of the American

farmer is almost sixty years old. That’s the age at which most people are retiring. The last

reasoning as to why the industrialized farming has become so bad for so many people is due in

part to the fact that there is no communal or social aspect to it. Nowadays people drive to the

supermarket pick up the food they want to eat and drive back home. There is no social aspect to

it or community engagement. In all the localized sustainable food movement not only provides

consumers with a healthier source of food, but they help stimulate the local economy and create

a sense of community engagement.

Localized sustainable food is the movement of the future to ensure a sense of security and

overall wellbeing for local communities. It educates the future generations on where the food

they eat comes from and how it is grown. The money used to buy the locally grown food is

continuously being recycled back into the local economy to help keep it stabilized and thriving.

Local communities create stronger bonds and ties within itself to create a strong support system.

With the industrialized farming industry having questionable farming techniques, local

communities can come together to ensure a healthier future not only for themselves but for their

community and local economy. Local sustainability creates a sense of security within the

community ensuring that if anything were to happen to the food industry they would have a

means for being able to provide for themselves and their surrounding neighbors. With all this
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being said the cultural movement towards local sustainable food is growing in popularity and

creating a sense of hope for the future.
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References

Allen, P. (2010, May 14). Realizing justice in local food systems. Retrieved March 29,

2017, from https://academic.oup.com/cjres/article-

abstract/3/2/295/446514/Realizing-justice-in-local-food-systems

Kurth, J., & MacDonald, C. (2015, June 25). Volume of abandoned homes 'absolutely terrifying'

Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/special-

reports/2015/05/14/detroit-abandoned-homes-volume-terrifying/27237787/

Walsh, B. (2013, December 16). The Triple Whopper Environmental Impact of Global Meat

Production. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-

triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

Wager, R., Popoff, M., & Moore, P. (2013, October 17). Organics versus GMO: Why the debate?

Retrieved March 30, 2017, from

https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/15/organics-versus-gmo-why-the-debate/

A. (2012, April 20). Are antibiotics in meat bad for humans? Retrieved March 30, 2017,

from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-antibiotics-in-meat-bad-for-humans/
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