Industrial food and farming have been very successful in producing more food, and cheaper food. But it has come at a very high price. The practices have wreaked havoc in important biological systems, in particular in bio-diversity and the nitrogen and carbon cycles.
While food is abundant, the distribution system, the market, fails to reach 1 billion people which are hungry. More than anything else the global market revolution fuelled by oil and coal and shaped by endless competition and rent-seeking has been the factor that has determined the whole food system, from the prairies to the supermarket shelf, from the production of margarine to the emergence of fast food chains. It even trans-formed the act of eating from an act of confirmation of social relations to individual satisfaction of real or imaginary dietary needs. As a response to this organic farming, local foods, fair trade and alike has developed.However, these systems are by and large still subject to the market imperatives of competition, profit and constant labour productivity increase, and increasingly so the more successful they are – clearly visible in the organic sector. This limits their transformational power. Real change of our farm and food system must be linked also to changes in social institutions, in particular the market. A truly regenerative food and farm system will close loops of flow of energy, nutrients and most importantly meaning and culture.