When I was young, the world was a buzz with the prospects of the “Green Revolution”—a movement intended to feed the world through the industrialization of agriculture with the promise of higher yields using large inputs of chemical fertilizer and pesticides. The Green Revolution officially began after World War II, was first characterized in 1968, and Normal Borlaug is credited as the father of this movement. The original focus was India, where famine and food shortages were almost a way of life.
If you focus solely on the total increase in production, you would say the Green Revolution was a rousing success. But if you look closer, there are more questions than answers. More hidden costs of cheap and plentiful food that promoters of this system don’t like to discuss. The long-term problems associated with this high-input, unsustainable, artificial system are starting to cast a deepening shadow over the short-term advantages.
Questions regarding the unintended costs of the Green Revolution, and the adoption of alternative, more sustainable agricultural systems, began as very small, isolated voices soon after the movement was heralded as the future of mankind. In recent years, these small voices have grown in number and volume, becoming a large and significant chorus from all around the world—a new revolution. And interestingly enough, talk of this new “Organic Revolution” is strongest in India—the very country targeted as the cradle of the Green Revolution from my youth.
Very recently, mid-summer this year, the German TV broadcaster, ZDF, aired a story they had co-produced about the paradigm shift of agriculture in India. The program included a story about the first 100% organic state in India—all 65,000 farmers were converted to organic! The nearby country Bhutan is still working on a similar goal, which will make it the first country in the world to be 100% organic! Another federal state in India, Uttarakhand, has also made the commitment to convert to 100% organic. There are 1.6 million farmers in Uttarakhand! Earlier this summer, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh announced its intent to convert all farmers to 100% pesticide free, which is very close to organic. In total, just in India, we’re talking about 6 million organic farmers! This is not just a paradigm shift but an agricultural revolution—or perhaps a better term might be “evolution,” as it must continue to evolve if it is to be sustainable.
But what is driving this Organic Revolution? I believe it has the same drivers all over the world—the high cost of producing, processing and eating cheap food. (More on the high cost of cheap food, feeding the world using regenerative organic agriculture and the reduction of food waste to come.) The goal of the Green Revolution was to feed the people of the world; the goal of the Organic Revolution is to nourish the people of the world and heal the earth where we live.
Join me and the millions of voices—farmers, gardeners, consumers and businesses—who believe in nutritious, sustainable food, for today and for the future. Support the Organic Revolution and take control of your health. #organicrevolution