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Fossil Free Food Systems: Jason Bradford, Andrew Millison, Vandana Shiva, Daniel Zetah

November 13, 2023

(Conversation Recorded on October 10th, 2023)

Show Summary

On this Reality Roundtable, Nate is joined by small-scale farmer Jason Bradford, permaculturist and documentarian Andrew Millison, regenerative agriculture activist Vandana Shiva, and regenerative farmer and educator Daniel Zetah to discuss the feasibility of a food system fully or mostly independent of fossil fuel inputs. While a non-industrialized agriculture system is certainly possible (it was the norm for the majority of human history), what that will look like and how we even begin such a transition is daunting with a population of 8 billion humans to feed. How do we teach people the skills they’ll need as fossil inputs become less affordable, reliable, and accessible? Can we create a cultural shift towards a slower lifestyle that is more connected to the land which provides us food? What do the people of a society look like where we are once again centered around agriculture and in tune with the flows of nature? How would our relationship with jobs and the land have to change?

About Jason Bradford

Jason Bradford has been affiliated with Post Carbon Institute since 2004, first as a Fellow and then as Board President. He worked for the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden, was a Visiting Scholar at U.C. Davis, and during that period co-founded the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group (ABERG). He decided to shift from academia to learn more about and practice sustainable agriculture, and in the process, completed six months of training with Ecology Action (aka GrowBiointensive) in Willits, California, and then founded Brookside School Farm.

About Andrew Millison

Andrew Millison is an innovative educator, storyteller and designer. He founded the Permaculture Design education program at Oregon State University (OSU) in 2009. At OSU Andrew serves as an Education Director and Senior Instructor who offers over 25 years of experience, and a playful approach to regenerative design. Andrew is also a documentary videographer who travels the world documenting epic permaculture projects in places such as India, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, and throughout the US. You can view his videos and series on his YouTube channel.

About Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is a well known activist, author of many books, and is a global champion on regenerative local agriculture, biodiversity and nutritious food. She has a PhD in physics and 40 years ago founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, an independent research institute that works on the most significant ecological problems of our times.

About Daniel Zetah

Daniel grew up on a farm in Minnesota where he learned to fix all manner of things driven from an insatiable curiosity about how things worked. He studied economics and business at university. After waking to our planetary predicament, he became a full time environmental activist, then moved to an off grid community in the mountains where he studied permaculture and built straw bale houses. He moved back to America to help steer culture in a more sane direction. He and his wife Stephanie moved back to the family farm in Minnesota where they are growing 80% of their calories, rebuilding the local ecology, and educating and empowering people to wrest back control of their sovereignty as human beings.

Watch on YouTube

Show Notes & Links to Learn More:

00:00 – Jason Bradford works, info, + TGS Podcast, Andrew Millison works, info, youtube channel, + TGS Podcast, and Vandana Shiva Works, info, + TGS Podcast, Daniel Zetah New Story Farm, New Story Farm Resiliency School, + TGS Podcast

04:24 – We use 10-14 for each calorie delivered to the table

04:45 – Limited fossil fuel resources and their ecological consequences

05:58 – Re-ruralizing

06:55 – Power complexity of modern cities

07:23 – Bill Rees + TGS Episode, Ecological Footprint

08:25 – Amount of energy used in transport/packaging of food

08:41 – The Future is Rural

09:16 – Much of the world is still rural

11:20 – Composting toilet

15:10 – Paani Foundation

16:44 – Mississippi Watershed, largest area of navigable river

19:38 – Most people globally are peasants

19:56 – US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, we’ve got to squeeze the farmer off the land

20:13 – The US was an agrarian society a century ago

20:58 – Milpa System

21:21 – Yield per acre

21:53 – Nutrition per acre and soil fertility is much higher in organic agriculture

26:05 – Most americans are nutrient deficient and obese

31:10 – ~1% of American population involved with agriculture, 70-80% in India

32:20 – Less than 1% of farmers are farming organically

33:30 – Conventional agriculture actually requires more inputs

34:39 – Amory Lovins, energy slaves

35:20 – Great Depression, Great Dust Bowl

35:31 – Conservation Corps

41:50 – Sahel

42:01 – Senegal imports 70% of food

50:40 – US rates of depression in youth

56:54 – Keystone Species

1:00:54 – Apprentice Systems

1:04:38 – Chipko Movement

1:04:59 – Year of Millets

1:07:55 – Roots of regenerative agriculture in ancient practices

1:11:08 – Silvopasture, agroforestry

1:19:22 – $182 billion dollars spent on agriculture subsidies in the US, and effects on the agriculture market

1:20:29 – Vandana on Green Revolution

1:20:59 – Seed and plant patents

1:21:24 – Districts corresponding to watershed boundaries

1:22:21 – Andrew’s permaculture class at OSU

1:23:07 – One Planet Development Program

1:27:24 – Climate migration

More: The Future is Rural: Source data for diet and land model tables (shared publicly)

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.