Introduction to the Second Edition
When this book was first published in 1977, I suspected, but could not know for sure, that a day would come when increasing populations and increasing costs of producing and transporting food with fossil fuel, fossil fertilizers, and genetic manipulation would cause food prices to rise so high that more traditional production methods—organic, natural, low-labor, and local—would begin to rule the economy. Thirty years later, that is exactly what is happening. Whenever in history a new, more economical way to do anything is discovered, it will take over the market, no matter how hard entrenched big business and government try to stop it. Not all the forces of power, with their sickening subsidy mentality for the rich, can prevail forever against economic reality.
This book is intended for the pioneers of this new, low-cost way of making food—those gardeners and “garden farmers” or cottage farmers who are interested in increasing both the quantity and quality of their homegrown food supply by incorporating whole grains and dry beans into their fruit and vegetable growing systems. I am not writing this for commercial grain producers, who know far more about their business than I do. I can’t even drive one of those huge and complicated tractors that can plow an acre a minute. Nor do I wish to denigrate commercial farmers: Some of them are close friends. While I fear that their way of agriculture cannot ultimately sustain itself, we would be in desperate straits right now without these farmers. I would hope that these larger-scale farmers would find ideas and viewpoints here interesting and perhaps persuasive, especially if they are organic or natural farmers. But the methods I describe and argue in favor of do not promise what the agricultural experts call “top profits,” but only good food and the satisfaction of producing it on a scale that society can afford.
We have become a nation dangerously dependent on politically motivated and money-motivated processes for our food, clothing, and shelter. In the world we must live in from now on, to produce our own food is the beginning of independence. To accept that responsibility is the first step toward real freedom.