Dickens’ fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge believed that young people should work. By not working, he considered the unemployed as “surplus population.” Organic farms require more labor particularly for jobs such as weeding fields by hand since herbicides are not used. Recently, an organic ag advocate in the UK invoked the name of Ebenezer Scrooge to explain how organic ag could make use of the current “surplus population” by putting the unemployed to work in the organic fields.
“Yet if Britain practiced Enlightened Agriculture based on small, mixed, quasi-organic farms we could easily be self-reliant in food. We could also employ all of the three million who are now unemployed, including or perhaps especially the one million unemployed under-25s, in jobs far better than the shelf-stacking and mail-order cold-calling that are now on offer. Instead we produce only about half our food while politicians wring their hands over what Ebenezer Scrooge in a remarkably similar economy called “the surplus population” who alas are left on the sidelines.”
Author: Colin Tudge
Title: Enlightened agriculture a people’s takeover of the food supply
Source: Food Ethics. Summer 2012. Volume 7; Issue 2. Available at: www.foodethicscouncil.org
While Colin Tudge might be right that only about half the U.K.’s food is produced domestically, he should have a look at the massive trade imbalance in organic-food!
Here in North America for instance, estimates are that more than three-quarters of the certified-organic food sold in grocery stores is imported from countries like China, Mexico and Brazil.
And so, even if we assume there’s no fraud in these far-off lands, it’s clear that we would only be helping their labor market, not ours, by switching to “Enlightened Agriculture.”