In our world of plenty we still have famine in the face of an abundance of food. While there are numerous techniques to cultivating food for the masses none are sustainable unless the extreme poverty and hunger is diminished. In order to remove the certain elements that contribute to unsustainable practices and unequal distribution it is critical to have a “closed system” or a system with low inputs and outputs. This is where the idea of subsistence agriculture as a truer form of sustainable agriculture comes in. The practices and theories of subsistence agriculture are as closed as it gets and the closer to a “closed system” one is then the closer to “sustainability” one is. The goal of sustainable agriculture is dynamic, but with the concrete CAFTA definition it can be determined whether the theories and practices of subsistent agriculture contain a truer form of sustainable agriculture.
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There are three main books, among numerous other titles, that have been chosen for this paper. First is Roy Ellen’s book “Environment, Subsistence and System: The Ecology of Small-Scale Social Formations”, then there is Manning Nash’s “Primitive and Peasant Economic Systems”, finally as my main source there is James C. Scott’s book “The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia”
The first book by Roy Ellen contains numerous system models that will explain and back up my points on closed systems of agricultural as truer forms of sustainable agriculture. Also there is a great but simple chart in this book that will be included to explain ideas such as generalization vs. specialization and ideas of dominance and subordination of land as they relate to ecofeminism and our loss of religion for the land. Next is Manning Nash’s book which contains systems ideas and most importantly a selection on quasi-tribal life. The quasi-tribal explanation is a great example of returning to more ecological and economical ways. Both of these first two books will offer great ecosystem theories and practices. The stem word “eco” or “oikos” will be a reoccurring theme in this paper, especially in the conclusion. Finally James C. Scott’s book will be heavily referenced. Originally the main countries of choice were going to be from Latin America, and some of my sources still refer to these, but this book is too perfect. My main preference for this book is its ideas of subsistence farming as revolutionary not just radical. After reading about radical agriculture there arose a certain challenge to see the next step beyond reform and radical. A challenge for me will be to not write a paper on just this one book. Chapters like “The Economics and Sociology of the Subsistence Ethic” and “Revolt, Survival and Repression” will make up the core of this paper.
These ideas are important cause like it was previously mentioned in order to close a system of excessive inputs and outputs certain elements that contribute to unsustainable practices and unequal distribution need to be handled appropriately. Usually the forces that prohibit equality and sustainability are not removed until revolutionary steps are taken. Radical and reforming steps are necessary for change, but in the end it takes a turning over of a new page to create a fresh beginning and this book offers many examples.
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