I've just started reading this book - The Rational Optimist - How Prosperity Evolves. It is very interesting and makes some great points particularly about the evolution of trade, the role of trade in making us human and the evolution of farming which I find fascinating. However I'm finding the chapter "The feeding of the nine billion: farming after 10,000 years ago" unsettling. I don't want to be guilty of confirmation bias or re-enactment romanticism but a great deal of what he says contradicts much of what else I have been recently reading in things like "Food Inc" and "Against The Grain". I wondered if anyone out there who was more clued up than me had read this book and could make an educated critique of it. He makes a lot of sense in other parts of the book so I don't want to just dismiss it out of hand because he believes the future lies in intensive grain farming.
asked byqueen_of_the_stone_age (2255)
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on June 05, 2011
at 12:25 AM
I have read this book and I think everyone should. I found most of his arguments very convincing. I haven't read it for several months, and I should go back and check out that chapter.
I think the claims of some that grain agriculture are going to be the end of the world are exaggerated at best. I certainly don't believe that all our problems would be solved if we started grazing cattle everywhere and eating only locally grown vegetables.
Without going into Ridley's specific claims, I think any kind of top-down solution is bound to fail. Solutions to environmental/nutritional problems are going to very a lot in different places.
I oppose banning GMOs, and I dare say that some of them really will be good for people and the environment. Let people try different things and see what works.
on June 04, 2011
at 08:24 PM
No I haven't, I read his blog and I love his books on human nature/genetics. Perhaps he is contradicting messages like Food Inc because he isn't addressing messages like Food Inc? Polyface farms are all like "look at how ballin' and amazing and efficient we are, wahoo innovation" and is Matt like "this current model we have sucks and won't do" but then doesn't explore alternatives?