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Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet

Tricia Handley previously reviewed this book from our library. Now it's Phil Mason's turn to share his take on Regenesis.

George Monbiot can be very challenging. When checking out the claims of over optimistic people for the sustainability of their particular thing, he has an annoying knack for doing the sums better than they can. In this book certain claims for organic methods of agriculture and livestock techniques such as mob grazing are called into question.

The book opens with Monbiot taking us to his allotment: several plots he co tends with friends which is planted as an orchard. There he digs up a spit of soil and with the aid of a loupe (strong magnifying glass) he guides us through the billions of creatures that can be found in a square metre of healthy soil.

The central premise of the book is we do not have enough land to feed humanity in the way “The Market” demands and the market solutions bring with them destructive problems of their own.

The ever increasing demand for eggs and poultry has brought about ever larger production units in which natural waste becomes industrial effluent by sheer scale. The River Wye is dead as a habitat in many places, largely due to this.

There are many descriptions of damage and destruction, but this is a book that examines possible solutions. From finding ways to revitalize depleted farmland, growing perennial grains to producing proteins and fats using fermentation by bacteria. Examining how the food distribution system has broken is also featured.

Monbiot quotes Machiavelli on the dangers of trying to change the order of things. How “the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”

This book challenges many assumptions and particularly in the area of Farmfree food offers many innovative ideas that still have me pondering possibilities many months after reading it.

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