The way we produce our food under capitalism is one of those topics in the pub that can cause vehement arguments on each side whether thats pushing for more common spaces and allotments for growing food locally, or the go vegan brigade. I myself am a reformed vegan, vegetarian first, then vegan and finally back to omnivore. So I’m aware of the many and varied arguments and discussion pieces for a wide range of arguments about how we should change how we produce our food. It’s something I’ve engaged with for many years. What follows is a suggestion for how we could solve some of these problems by changing our methods.
As i explained here I’m more interested in what is possible for us to achieve beyond capitalism, what could we do if we were unrestrained by a dysfunctional economic system. How we produce our food has a huge impact on our planet and our capacities as a species, from the gases released into the atmosphere changing the environment, from the treatment of animal waste, to our water use, our use of insecticides and all the animals killed in the mechanised gathering of the harvest etc. Food production under capitalism has certain negative impacts on our world as it chases profit at the expense of any barrier it faces but it doesn’t follow that every kind of society will reproduce them, they are systemic problems of life under capitalism they are not natural or endemic to producing food. There are better ways to go about it.
One of the things that strikes you the more you look at how we do food production under capitalism is just how primitive it all is and how little changes despite advances in science. We grow plants in organic soil FFS, outside where If everything goes well we generally get one crop per year, the yield it produces is dependent on the weather and the winter is a fallow time. And if it goes wrong we get starvation, hunger and widespread famine. What utter madness. What if i was to tell you there was a way to grow veg 24/7 365 day a year, and get maybe four crops per year whilst also freeing up land for other uses?
Back when i first got into growing pot, i came across hydroponics as a method for growing for the first time. Plants like all life forms have certain requirements to grow and thrive, plants need micro nutrients, trace elements as well as food and light at specific wavelengths. In hydroponics you can test what your plants need and create a perfect food for them which you administer in the water. You also grow the plants in a medium other than soil, like rock wool. This means the plants are growing in a sterile environment where soil viruses and bacteria cant get them. Bye bye potato blight. The plants grow under LED lights, lights at the correct wavelength of light to help the plants grow. This is the scientific way to grow plants, under lights in a sterile environment where their exact nutritional requirements are provided directly.
So it’s clear we can grow plants all year round by using this scientific approach to growing plants. But we can add to the hydroponics method by following another closely related approach called aquaponics and with it we can add another kind of food we can grow with this set up. This is where you grow fish or fresh water sea creatures like crayfish or prawns for food and use their waste products namely ammonia as food for your plants. When you set up a new fish tank you have to stabilise the chemical composition of the water else your fish will die, this is why you should only add a few fishes at a time as the added waste products can destabilise the chemical composition and balance of the water. You first add ammonia (fish waste) to the water and then bacteria that grow on ammonia turn it into nitrites and you get a spike of those. At this point different bacteria that live on nitrites turn it into nitrates and it stabilises, any new ammonia added is quickly converted to nitrates. Nitrates are pure plant food and it is why you don’t have to feed plants in a fish tank, it is this waste product that you feed to you plants growing under the lights for food. I’ve grown many crops of weed using this method myself, getting four crops a year. So from this method we get sea food and vegetables in a self sustaining loop of growth.
Let’s face it what I’m proposing, growing fish in huge tanks and growing plants under lights is going to take up a lot of space, we are talking about millions of plants here, so where are we going to put all this equipment? Well some have suggested vertical farming where you turn a skyscraper into a aquaponics farm. Well that might work but I offer a much better solution and one that would free up unbelievable amounts of land for other uses. We put it all underground.
Now hear me out. Faced with the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste their country was producing in its electricity generation France decided to create huge caverns underground and place it all there, these are like small cities carved into the bedrock under the ground, massive. So we have the technology to carve out huge caverns already, we dug a tunnel under the channel FFS, for this project we just hollow out huge spaces in the underground bedrock to grow our plant food.
One way how our present system of growing plants outside at the mercy of the elements adds to global warming is the huge amount of waste plant matter that just rots in the fields releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere, in this system I’m proposing this detritus is collected and fed back to the fish as food in a bio loop. Another added bonus of this method is that as we are far underground nearer the Earths core we could harness geothermal energy to create a power station like they do in Iceland to power the whole operation, then it really would be a self contained system that could feed us all and free up vast amounts of land above, which we could use for other social uses.