Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Notes from Against the Grain by Richard Manning

When I read books of importance to me, not only do I underline the important passages, but I take notes in the margins, writing key words and phrases that I want to be able to come back to and use in my teachings of Environmental Sustainability and Justice.
By putting these notes in a blog post I have access to them when I am travelling and can easily search by keywords to find the page numbers I want to reexplore and pull quotes from.
Best of all, by making my notes public, I might be able to help others who are researching these topics and using this book find the section of the book they are looking for!

Here goes:

Against the Grain
By Richard Manning
Notes by T.H. Culhane

recruit bears and birds
We know more than we think we do. Experiments have shown that normal people, given the whiff of a T-shirt, can tell whether it was worn by a man or a woman, even have a sense of whether the wearer was attractive. How much of this have we sublimated? What would it be like to meet other humans and smell, say, anger, arousal, as I am sur my dogs do? p. 5
The girl in Borneo

Unlearning. “My main job is to teach you that you know a lot more than you think you know.” p. 7
This book is not just about agriculture, but about the fundamental dehumanization that occurred with agriculture. We can't really conceive of what huans lost wth the process of civilization, with agriculture, until we ask what human nature is.
Google enhanced reading. Performance art.
“Mann ist was mann isst.”
Meat protein, however, would not do the job alone, because meat lacks some necessary nutrients and is an inefficient way to satisfy all of a body's carbohydrate needs. Newfound priority on information, beginning of information age. p. 13... division of labor, extra burden on women.
Routine consumption of toxic plants.
Render harmless by cooking... some mistakes are fatal.
Synesthesia... there is a parallel universe, which is Dreamtime; our senses call it into existence and make it into the real world in which we live. p. 14.
We achieved this range without agriculture. Found bound us together.
There was no way to store the meat, no way for an individual to accumulate wealth, so communal feasting became the payoff for social organization.
Bogman Denmark... stomach contained remnants of sixty different species of plants: not the sum total of the range of his diet, merely the range from a day or so, what happened to be ripe or on hand at the moment. Multiply that number through the seasons and across the animal kingdom and some appreciation or that human's catalogue of sensual clues begins to accrue. Learning to live off hundreds of species of plants and animals required an attention to color, light, shape and motion that must have bordered on obsession. No wonder we began painting in such fine detail so early in the course of human events. It is as if we were brimming with observation and had to let it all out. The way we preserved our species during our formative years not only made us hunters and gatherers, but painters, singers, and poets, all of the essential sensuality o these arts winding back to food and sex.
Letters to a young Poet...
“Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments. Men have made even eating into something else: want on the one hand, superfluity upon the other, have dimmed the distinctness of this need, and all the deep, simple necessities in which life renews itself have become similarly dulled. But the individual can clarify them for himself and live them clearly (and if not the individual, who is too dependent, then at least the solitary man). He can remember that an beauty in animals and plants is a quiet enduring form of love and longing, and he can see animals, as he sees plants, patiently and willingly uniting and increasing and growing, not out of physical delight, not out of physical suffering, but bowing to necessities that are greater than Pleasure and pain and more powerful than win and withstanding. O that man might take this secret, of which the world is full even to its littlest things, more humbly to himself and bear it, endure it,more seriously and feel how terribly difficult it is instead of taking it lightly. That he might be more reverent toward his fruitfulness, which is but one, whether it seems mental or physical; for intellectual creation too springs from the physical, is of one nature with it and only like a gentler, more ecstatic and more everlasting repetition of physical delight. "The thought of being creator, of procreating & of making" is nothing without its continuous great confirmation and realization in the world, nothing without the thousandfold concordance from things and animals--and enjoyment of it is so indescribably beautiful and rich only because it is fun of inherited memories of the begetting and the bearing of millions. In one creative thought a thousand forgotten nights of love revive, filling it with sublimity and exaltation And those who come together in the night and are entwined in rocking delight do an earnest work and gather sweetnesses, gather depth and strength for the song of some coming poet, who will arise to speak of ecstasies beyond telling. And they call up the future; and though they err and embrace blindly, the future comes all the same, a new human being rises up, and on the ground of that chance which here seems consummated, awakes the law by which a resistant vigorous seed forces its way through to the egg-cell that moves open toward it. Do not be bewildered by the surfaces; in the depths all becomes law. And those who live the secret wrong and badly (and they are very many), lose it only for themselves and still hand it on, like a sealed letter, without knowing it. And do not be confused by the multiplicity of names and the complexity of cases. Perhaps over all there is a great motherhood, as common longing. The beauty of the virgin, a being that (as you so beautifully say) "has not yet achieved anything," is motherhood that begins to sense itself and to prepare, anxious and yearning. And the mother's beauty is ministering motherhood, and in the old woman there is a great remembering. And even in the man there is motherhood, it seems to me, physical and spiritual; his procreating is also a kind of giving birth, and giving birth it is when he creates out of inmost fullness. And perhaps the sexes are more related than we think, and the great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed of all false feelings and reluctances, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and win come together as human beings, in order simply, seriously and patiently to bear in common the difficult sex that has been laid upon them.
But everything that may some day be possible to many the solitary man can now prepare and build with his hands, that err less. Therefore, dear sir, love your solitude and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation the suffering it causes you For those who are near you are far, you say, and that shows it is beginning to grow wide about you. And when what is near you is far, then your distance is already among the stars and very large; rejoice in your growth, in which you naturally can take no one with you, and be kind to those who remain behind, and be sure and calm before them and do not torment them with your doubts and do not frighten them with Your confidence or joy, which they could not understand. Seek yourself some sort of simple and loyal community with them, which need not necessarily change as you yourself become different and again different; love in them life in an unfamiliar form and be considerate of aging people, who fear that being-alone in which you trust. Avoid contributing material to the drama that is always stretched taut between parents and children; it uses up much of the children's energy and consumes the love of their elders, which is effective and warming even if it does not comprehend. Ask no advice from them and count upon no understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance and trust that in this lore there is a strength and a blessing, out beyond which you do not have to step in order to go very far! “

Stephen Jay Gould just so stories. Fun. Farming is not. “The real problem, then, is not to explain why some people were slow to adopt agriculture, by why anybody took it up at all..” p. 23 Colin Tudge.
4 crops = 2/3 of human nutrition. Wheat, rice, corn, potatoes.
A few hundred species have parts readily edible.
Agriculture was simply opportunism.
Plains indians almost exclusively off meat.
Agriculture allowed them to occupy key hunting areas during lean times.
The ready availability of Cat Chow makes Tabby songbird's mot lethal suburban predator, not skunks and other wild predators who must move oven when pickings get thin.
p. 26
Einkhorn, Emmer, barley 9,600 ears.
The rachis, seeds that stick to the head
Catastrophe reset biological clock.
Annuals don't need to persist, to set deep roots. Rather they invest their resources in building large,easily detached, portable,long-lasting seeds ready to exploit the next sweeping catastrophe. One these colonizers gain a foothold and provide cover, shade and organic matter in the soil, a more poermanent community of plants dominated by perennials develops. There is a very narrow range of colonizing plants designed by evolution to move in and restart the biological clock ater catastrophe.
p. 28
Investing energy in seed doesn't pay off in mature community.
Distrubed sites.
Cottonwoods ren't so much water-loving as disturbance loving.
Sunflowers. Floodplain weeds, wild gourds, sunflowers and chenopods.
Settlement before agriculture, sedentism and art... sedentism – the radical human experiment with staying put – made agriculture possible, and not vice versa. p. 30
Agriculture did not arise from need but from relative abundance. Leisure to experiment.
Noah's flood p. 31, Genesis.
Midas' grave full of grain, not gold, p. 33.
Poverty from agriculture... wealth vs. abundance
Agriculture created poverty
Mounds Cahokia
Compare lives by comparing skeletons. Farmers smaller. Implications for aquaculture.. The fish moved, Just beginning to regain stature. Food of the poor, By moving about and taking food from a variety of niches, they balanced one locale's deficiencies against anothers excesses . This is also true for the early sedentarycities that relied on seafood. They didn't move, but the fish did, bringing with them minerals from a wide range of places. Biodiversity diet, Every locale's soil and water deficient in one mineral. p. 35.

Tooth decay. Soft foods wean children faster. Deformities and rotten teach.
California paleo gatherers “so healthy is is somewhat discouraging to work with them”
Disease from bad diet.
Slavery, poverty, oppression.
Biology and evolution don't care very much about quality of life.
What counts is persistence, endurance.
P 37
Goats cut a deal. Smaller more diseased goats.
Weeds. Chenopods adapted to catastrophes. Coalitions form.
Poverty is a direct result of cultural evolution
Malaria is an agricultural disease. P 40
Harsh life for masses. But wealthy clearly better off.
We have no clear examples of colonized huter gatherers who willingly, peacefully converted to farming. Most went as slaves; most were dragged kicking and screaming or ust plain died.
Nobody peacefully converted to agriculture. The plants and animals tamed us.
Green killing green.
p. 43
How powerful a coevolved coalition of exotics.
We have asked why agriculture arose I the first place, but we must also ask why this isolated experiment spread across the planet to the lands of nonagricultural peoples who could see it coming and who, having had plenty of contact with agricultural societies, ought to have known enough to avoid it like th plague it was.
Avoid it like the plauge
Farming spread by genocide.
Sugar tolerant digestive systems. p. 53.
The Gods wanted slaves and addicted us. Senegambia.
Wheat a big invention.. horse collar. Trinity wheat cattle and horses.
Without the payback, Weeds on a relegated to floodplains or edges of forest fires.
Biblical plagues p 56
Catastrophe agricultures evolved coalitions
virgin soil epidemics.
'Smallpox from God” Winthrop massachusetts bay colony.
Warfare and conquest = agriculture.
Mississipi valley Indians gave us farming corn to hunt when horses came.
P 60
Deliberate policy of exterminating bison 70 million to less than 50.
Horses a weed among animals so abundant.
Horses cheap in new world, expensive in Europe.
Catastrophic agriculture p. 62
5000 cattle to 48 million.
The Neo Europes (p. 63).
Pollinated by honeybees-- European crops and weeds, coevolution, allowing certain native species to outcompete others.

Kentucky Blue Grass from Europe … seeding to promote conquest p. 64.
Full of weed seed.
Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: “It did not occur to any white settler (pakeha) for decades and decades that spilling and strewing alien organism into an ecosystem can be like lighting a candle in order to lessen the gloom in a powder magazine.” p. 64. Rats and smallpox botaical equivalent.

Europan colonization was biological warfare.
63% non native
p. 655
Evolution fails to honor “success and failure”.
Famine is a creation of farming. p. 68
90/100 Difficult to see agriculture as antidote to hunger.
Wheat, 80 million dead. Great Leap forward p70

Not insufficient food but a lack of “entitlement”. Poverty is Africa's chief product.
Catastrophic Agriculture:
Maize 1, Potato 4 p. 73
A classic case of agricultural success prefiguring doom.
English: French: Potato “only fit for the Irish”. Poisonous p. 75
Potato promotes “idleness, improvidence and moral deviations”
Poor ate bread... poor diet based wholly on grain.
No fork or plate required... was for the poor. Spoiled spuds tossed to hogs
Rain tolerant potato.. 5-6 lb /day.
Kept one fingernail long.
Sugar blues p. 81
Famine Poverty and Disease are useful institutions. Slaves... Sugar required a labor intensive industrial refining that made it ery much the first processed food, processed by slaves.
Not cuisine but calories.
Sugar and rum as manacles p. 83.
Why tea is bitter... so you need sugar with it.
Sugar “tea with your sugar sir?”
James, pudding and treacles
IT COMES AT NIGHT Pretty Maids from Pandemonium
The purpose of humanity: cheap labor p. 83

Soil depletion should be impossible … expansion of the arable land base (p. 86).
Evans: Divides time by billions of people. Human culture ½ way.
Perennial.. the land bank.
Speculation leads to the dust bowl, institutional memory is short. Profit aids amnesia.
Draft animal feed land. p. 91
Because of uneven adoption
Bias toward catastrophe
Chewing up landscapes it had once been unable to digest
Clever use of hybrid vigor – industrialisation as species... directed by memes. Self pollinators, Biological imperialism,”Green Revolutio = Age of Dwarfs”. p. 92
Norman Borlaug, dwarf varieties
1970s 25% wheat, 1975 40%, 2000 70%
Rice 1980 40%, 1990 74%
20 bushels to 130 bushels

Harvest index. 3 crops at the expense of all others. Prices down, Efficiency up.
Fencerow to fencerow.. Earl Butz, Nixon constroversial secretary of agriclture. 1970S Plowe encerow to fencerow, I witessed in Illinois as a child.

p. 95

Dust bowl.
Farmers are the conduits, not recipients of subsidies.
3 grain crops for more than 2/3rd nutrition
Per capita gain 3x higher.
Fattened on Grain, Containment operations.
“Waste” is a term unique to industrial thinking. 76% beef from feedlots onfinement operations.
85% cropland = corn, soybean, wheat, hay.
“Dead one”
Nitrous Oxide = greenhouse gas.
Primay cause of water problems (p 99)
Corn second leading user of irrigation water.

Sheds and greenhouses, p. 107
Too cheap to conserve.
Nitrogen is cheap insurance p. 113
Respond to market signals. Expecting farmers to respond to market signals now is a bit like expecting an alcoholic to order the herbal tea at an open bar. This is the legacy of subsidy. A deep-seated irrationality that ignores cause and effect. A system that has taken on a logic of its own... a sort of arms race. No single set of market solutions will turn that system around.

Grainfed livestock are livestock factories.
Live, thrive without grain. The less cereal I eat the better I feel, a reflection of my body's genetic legacy set during a couple of million formative years as hunter gatherers.” p. 120 (ME TOO!).
Grain invades body.

False face on the land. The mess in our guts
, the juie of our politics. Corn syrup. Thomas Jefferson. p. 124. Designed to give us Independence. Invasion of the body snatchers.
Lincoln Homestead act. Can see the truth iin the negative. Farming is a pyramid.
p. 125

A modern enclosure act. Retool the federal system. Adreas, CEO of ADM 2 things “eporting American agircultural products, keeping farmers on farms, conserving topsoil. “ Firsta was pursued at expense of other two.

Welfare state, countryside is a factory. Famers are conduits,not recipients of federal money. Surplus to processor.
Slavery. p. 128
People willing to exploit themselves. p. 129

Commodities vs. food.
ADM convicted of price fixing.
Kirschenmann believes humans fell from grace ten thousand years ago, the fall a sin of pride that came from domesticating plants. Since then all of agriculture has been an attempt to enfore distance from nature.
Sin of pride. Ph.D. In religion P. 131

Warm season crops like buckwheat.
Government payments make industrial ag efficient.
Rolling with nature's inevitable punches.
Basis of culture, 40 varieties of corn.
Uncle Richard Frankel Maputo US Aid p. 133
Druing a worldwide urban crisis.
Price fixing in food for Peace program.
System makes people redundant.
The death of the rest he sees as no loss, any town big enough for Wal Mart will survive.

p. 135
Fat market. Hide wheat in foreign aid, Hide corn in livestock. p. 137

3x waste, pig:human. Hog spill, fish kill..
Oligarche, parasitic industry. Corn and soy derivatives.
Evolution. Domestic tall grass, corn.

7% corn crop used in food.
Nitrates.. blue baby sydrome. Killed dolphins.
4 herbicides.
Treat all of us like livestock. Corn syrup 42% of all corn goes to sweeteners.
Processing of politicians.
We pay 11 dollars so ADM can make 1 dollar profit on ethanol.
Money for politics p. 141
Dwayne Andreas “Free market is a myth. The reason we don't call it socialism is that socialism is a bad word.”
p. 144

The escalating boredom of agriclture. p. 146
processed entertainment, illusion of reporters policing excess behavior.
A corn worm has learned the evolutionary trick of laying its eggs in soybeans, thereby defeating crop rotation. That's a parasites job, to look for a big, untapped pile of biomass and then evolve to tap it. Andreas has told me a true thing. His job is to observe, to respond, to evolve, to coopt the coops to morph, to feed on a decaying system.
p. 147
Miscreants – those who speak their intentions outside their private clubs.

I insist on sensuality p. 150.
Civilization is denying sensuality to others.
Christianity is a slave-class movement. Arab egalitarianism. p. 153.
Food taboos, the omivores dilemma.
Dietary Russian Roulette, A victory over our environment.
p. 157
Impulse to divide.
You and your central carbohydrate. P 159
Wild chenopods, refugium, Mexicans here use something like 250 species of edible plants.
The dulling monotony of catastrophic agriculture.
p. 161.
Agriculture does not exist to serve human demands P. 163. Pris: Agriculture is independent of human need , has a will of it own.
Food is the primary incursion o the physical world into the individual.
Hog enslaved the farmer.
p. 164.
Food faddists, perfecting nature, speak the language of commodities. Fallen nature required redemption and Christ was the soul's processor p. 167
Grains requied sedentism. From the very beginnings of agriculture, grain, even fresh off the stalk, was not food. It wanted fermenting or grinding or baking. Hunter gatherers could be nomads because they could pluck nourishment straight from limb or bone. Grain based nutrition required sedentism as much to process grain as to grow it. It never was immediately food, but, rather, a raw material.” p. 167.
Pellagra, kwashiokor, protein deficiencie.
Protein complementarity, p. 168.
Starch... White powder p. 168
Better living through chemistry.
Jell-O: Publically announcing you could afford a refrigerator.
Not offering nutrition... they were offering the illusion of wealth, stability, and order and consumers became willing accomplices in the plot. The marketers would have been equally happy selling most anything else. The ILLUSION OF WEALTH ON OFFER.
p. 170
USDA ignored nutrition. Turned to the Poor.
2 kinds of coupons, Fat People applying for food stamps. PL480 Dumping of grain in the developing world.
p. 172.
Balanced Diet, ratios weighted toward whatever happens to be in surplus.
Ketchup was a vegtable under Reagan.
p. 174.
Selling services
Maintain a stock of poor people sufficient to provide cheap labor p. 180.
Everybody else got fast food and sugar.
An audience that watched as passively as it ate.
Fast Food Nation p. 183.
Obesity is a mark of poverty p. 184
Plants domesticated us. Emergent behavior, Chaos theory.. ability of systems made up of senseless elements to tae on a sense, a logic, rules of their own. The sum of much randomness is order. P. 186.
Any political system is a creation of agriculture. Agriculture dug the tunnel of our vision.
p. 187
2/3 wheat rice corn sugar. Markets corrupted by subsidy. Simply STOP EATING. Negative nutrition.
Rice, neglect food stuff for poor people.
Potatoes, chamaeleon definition. Banana, United Fruit company, Developed Undeveloped Sugar, Bananas Coffee. P 191
A chance to do good work out of sight of – under the radar of mainline industrail Agriclture. Ths is more than a theoretical advantage.
Profit-driven bias opens enormous holes.
Phenomenon of overyielding.
Apomixis – a form of asecual reproduction being worked on by bioitechnology.
$30 bn/subisidy. Apomixis. p. 193

Given the state of affairs of the oligarchy the best of all possible worlds is to be ignored by it. p. 194.
Microbreweries had captured a huge share of the market, bit by bit, unsubsidized, unlobbied, with the simple expedient of quality...
Microbreweries made organic agriculture profitable. p. 194
Virtually every one of us faces the consequences of our ignoranc of agriculture three times a day.

Buyers don't just buy, they learn.
Who said food was supposed to be efficient? Are we better served by spending the time we save in front of television sets, consuming packaged, standardized images, or by lingering amid the lushness of a community market? p. 196. Holes in apples tell consumers “no pesticides”.

It begins with food.
A right, not a privilege.
Self consciously steers away from worst excesses.
Organic Agriculture is still agriculture in that it relies on a relatively small range of plants that are evolved to follow catastrophe and thus require disturbance and are primarily annuals. Organic agriculture is a necessary step, but it is not suffincet at least as it stands, a fundamental redesign is required.
Models of input output waste.
Mistake frenzy for efficiency.

“Our weapon in this is sensuality”. p. 202

The hunter gatherer survives in each of us. When a woman ambles through the union Square market and the deep purple glint of a plum catches her eye, She is replicating a primal process, awakening pathways of primal signals. The process itself is satisfying, human. When she speaks with the farmer who grew the plum, she connects to a bit of her community, her link to the rest of humanity. We subvert agriculture every time we restablish that link. “Our weapon in this is sensuality”. p. 202

Venus, the gratification of sexual desire... the practice or art of hunting , the chase... venereal, venison, to venerate...
Talismen of survival The rich,
Hunting.. one more pleasure to which the rich maintain access as the world shrinks to monotony and drudgery for the rest of us. ' p. 207
Given the means, people will go hunting. Given the means to be human, we will.
p. 208.