The coming decentralization of food production

Permaculture food forest

Humanity is entering an age of accelerating decentralization and complexity.  The turmoil we are witnessing globally is a manifestation of this and suggests a turning point altogether as cataclysmic as the transition from the agricultural age to the industrial age.  The forces of centralization and control (governments, corporate and labor structures, any hierarchical structures really) are in full panic mode because they are being rapidly upended by the decentralization trend.

If you want to see the violent death throes of centralization and control in action, look no further than our food production and distribution systems.  Mac Slavo shared an outrageous story yesterday that will make your blood boil.  It was about a group of private Nevada citizens who gathered together recently at Quail Hollow Farm for a Farm-to-Fork dinner consisting of organic food prepared by a popular chef.

The Nevada Health Department got wind of the dinner and dispatched a food inspector who barged onto the property to prevent anyone from eating the prepared food. In fact, after consulting with her unseen superiors back at H.Q., the inspector forced the gathering to destroy all of the food — literally hundreds of pounds of it — by pouring bleach over the top of it.

As outrageous as this sounds, it’s happening with such frequency these days it’s not even surprising anymore. We’ve seen a wave of stories of fully-armed and armored government thugs raiding raw food stores, arresting citizens who sell raw milk, threatening citizens who have home vegetable gardens, even shutting down children’s lemonade stands.

Folks, when citizens can no longer prepare home cooked meals for friends and guests without a government agency intervening (often violently), we’re rapidly reaching the end game.  This is no longer about protecting the health of citizens — if it ever even was — it’s about control.  Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger himself admitted as much when he remarked that “if you control food, you control the population.”

Today our agribusiness food production is highly centralized and controlled.  It’s a hugely inefficient, massively government-subsidized, monoculture system that is destructive to the environment, requires ever-more intensive inputs (pesticides, fertilizers) to generate yield, and produces cheap Franken-slop such as high fructose corn syrup rather than the healthy foods humans actually want to consume.

Organic farming on the other hand, is demonstrating conclusively that embracing complexity, decentralization and local production can pay huge dividends. As Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms explains, we are just now starting to understand the benefits of using multiple crops in the same space to imitate the diversity and resiliency of natural ecosystems. We’re just now starting to understand how little critters — bees, worms, bugs, etc. — interact with, support and benefit such ecosystems.  We’re starting to understand that working with complex biological systems rather than against them is a much smarter way to produce food.

As importantly, the Internet is liberalizing and freeing information as it relates to food production in truly amazing ways.  If you get a chance, watch the video below about a 300 year old food forest in Vietnam.  It will blow your mind.  As food production becomes more localized and decentralized, it’s also benefiting from a global knowledge base that can instantaneously transmit new local food production ideas, permaculture strategies and farming “best practices” to anyone, anywhere on the globe.

It’s this growing realization that food self-sufficiency is not only possible, but imminent, that has the forces of control scared shitless.  A citizenry that can locally produce and consume its own food and no longer has to rely on huge agribusiness monopolies, represents an existential threat… at least to them.  When you can feed yourself, you have a degree of independence and self-reliance that is truly frightening to the power hungry.

Complexity defies control, and in so many different ways, the future we live in will be defined by increased complexity and decentralization. Old hierarchical structures are crumbling all around us, and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to food. The possibilities and opportunities of decentralized/localized food production are going to be huge, but make no mistake about it:  As evidenced by the Nevada food inspector story above, the old system won’t go down without a fight.

Quick update… You really need to watch the video at the YouTube link below of the NV Health Department raid of the farm.  The vegetables were apparently declared a “biohazard”, and they were prevented from even feeding any of the food to their pigs.  Criminy…

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30 Responses to "The coming decentralization of food production"

  1. Trey Morrison says:

    Great post!!! I can’t wait till our food forest is up and running!

  2. Helix says:

    While I don’t know the details of the Nevada Farm-to-Fork event, it does seem to me that a Civil Disobediance opportunity was wasted. Evil must be confronted. It thrives on meekness and submission, and grows stronger with each uncontested victory.

  3. Texan Shambodie says:

    The name of the governor of Nevada needs to be printed so people can email him their disapproval of such oppression.

  4. Cori says:

    Brian Sandoval is the name of the Nevada State Governor. Here is a link to email the governor and the phone number for the governor’s office is (775) 684-5670.

    His office needs to be bombarded with calls and emails concerning this reprehensible and deplorable act by the state government.

  5. James says:

    No doubt the actions of the government in this case are totally

    But where were the civil rights of the animals that were served up on your table? Why do you expect justice when you slaughter the children of the animal kingdom for your taste?

    The mistake of humans is to believe that they are outside of universal law. The animals are also beings with a desire to live a complete and wholesome life.

    As long as this blind prejudice continues against other species you will only continue to experience “injustice” in your own life.
    You cannot escape that through legislation or any other means.

    • NotJames says:


      You are an idiot.

    • Sean says:

      Right now your body is destroying millions, if not billions, of bacteria that are striving for survival. No life exists with out the extermination of other life. Like it or not you cannot avoid it.

    • Naresh Khivraj says:

      Extremely well said. We have forgotten the saying of Gandhi, the great Indian Freedom Fighter: “I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    • ponyboy says:

       James ::

      I agree that human supremacism is a huge problem. We humans – especially industrialized humans – are taught in subtle and not-so-sublte ways to think that we are the center, apex, and point of all creation.

      This human supremacism manifests itself in a number of hideous ways, CAFOs being one of the more brutal among them. Anyone with a pulse should be able to see what’s immoral about the industrial meat industry.

      However, human supremacism manifests itself in another way that is just as devastating to the planet, and to the wellbeing of our nonhuman animal kin, and that manifestation is agriculture.

      The production of annual grains in particular has always been a war against the living world. The basis of all land life on this planet is the living soil, which is the co-creation of billions of micro-organisms belowground and millions of organisms living aboveground. The living soil is made possible the living, dying, excreting hunting and being hunted, eating and being eaten of animals above and belowground, and by perennial polycultures – the forests, wetlands, and prairies that draw from and give back to the soil, and that keep it from eroding, baking, and washing away.

      For millions of years, homo sapiens sapiens, and before them our more ancient ancestors, lived within these perennial polycultures, and took their food from within them. Our diets have centered overwhelmingly around the consumption of nutrient dense animal fats and organs. In fact, we owe the existence of our large brains and small stomachs to the flesh of those animals that we’ve universally painted stories about in caves.

      We were not passive, but active participants in the shaping of these perennial polycultures. Hunter gatherers have often been mobile horticulturists, and it’s now clear that human hands played a significant role in co-creating the ancient forests of the planet, which are almost entirely gone.

      We lived in ways that – in concert with the labors of the greater living community – grew more habitat, more soil, more biodiversity with each generation.

      This all changed about 10,000 or so years ago, when a minority of humans decided to stop obtaining their food from within intact, healthy perennial polycultures, and to start imposing their foods across them instead.

      Agriculture is biotic cleansing. You clear the land of every living thing, down to the bacteria in the soil, and plant it to human use and human use only. Specifically, you plant it with annual grains, tubers, and legumes that take more from the soil than they can give back, and you keep the soil in a perpetual state of exposure to the elements.

      You actively fight succession, the process by which the land returns from bare soil to forest, wetland, or prairie, and you viciously kill any living thing – plant, insect, bird, or mammal – that attempts to regrow habitat for everybody again. You basically say, viciously, zealously, only humans – and a small cohort of annual plants – live here.

      The soil is exposed, and the rain that falls doesn’t sink into the soil deeply, for the long haul, because there’s nothing to slow its fall, and there isn’t a dense understory to insulate the ground from the sun. The moisture – and the life – in the soil quickly bakes away, till its dead, intert dirt to be swept into a river or ocean, creating dead zones.

      The rains are seldom enough. So entire wetlands are drained, rivers dammed. Millions upon millions of animals displaced, just as they were displaced when the agriculturists ripped up their prairies and felled their forests. The water – which was home to other humans, other animals – will be stolen, and forced onto the barren landscapes of the agriculturists until salinization and desertification inevitably follow.

      These annual grains – which are, by the way, on a nutritional level, are devastating to the human body – are touted as the foods that will save the world. But their production has required – and will always require – the destruction of entire biomes, the slaying of billions of animals, the extinction of whole communities, the displacement and enslavement of the traditionally landbased, and desertification.

      Ancient Iraq used to be covered in cedar forests so thick that sunlight didn’t touch the ground, until the first agricultural societies flourished. The Arabian Peninsula was once oak savannah. The Sahara desert wasn’t a desert until agriculture came along. The Mediterranean was covered with over a dozen inches of fertile, healthy topsoil and old forests. Now much of it is barren rock. There were actual cedars in Lebanon. And I could go on.

      The point is this :: you need to not just think about what’s dead on your plate, but all the things that died to put it there.

      The oh-so eco-righteous grains that vegetarians and vegans say will save the world are skinning the world alive, and taking out entire species in the process. The eating of a justly, lovingly raised pig, or the hunting of a deer – thoughtfully, as needed, and never in excess –  within a forest, cannot compare to the entitlement, arrogance, human supremacism, and ecocide of soy, wheat, corn, rice, rye.

      To save the world you have to know it, and decide to be a humble participant within it. Eating the flesh of another, and being eaten, eventually, in turn, is not breaking or attempting to transcend the unwritten laws of this world. To destroy the collective habitat, to overshoot the land’s carrying capacity, to selfishly hoard as much land as possible for the production of those monocrops of grain, to have as many children as we please – everyone else be damned…that is the arrogance. That is the entitlement. That is the breaking of the law.

      To live is to kill and to live is to take, but the taking must be matched by the giving, and we are all meant to live within limits, and to feed life beyond us, in the end.

      When you are dead, the soil will eat you. Do you know that the soil is carnivorous? That trees need the bones of animals to live? Bacteria and decomposers will descend on you, not in bloodlust or out of cruelty, but in an animal hunger that connects us all and that is our origin, journey, and destination.

  6. Jamie says:

    This is illegal search and siezer. Next time post no trespassing signs and post that you do not consent to the search of the property. Also put a contact phone number.

  7. Jamie says:

    Know your rights. Plead fifth amendment.

  8. Lalalandlosers says:

    The problem is, while the commonsense shows the regulations of anything outside government control is confronted and destroyed, we have given that power to the nutjobs, especially in this administration. On top of that you have idiots who give more rights to animals, than humans…or worse, try to compare them as being the same. We have more nutjobs in this administration, that sit behind a desk and have no real-world experience dictating to those with real world experience and commonsense. The ‘fundamental transformation’, is the dumbing down of legal law abiding citizens, to have their rights taken away, as government expands and passes the bill onto us. When it comes down to it, I’ll put my trust in organic over man made any day of the week. We were warned this was coming, but every time, for the last couple of years, we got wind of this, it was denied and passed off as a lie. The liars are pretty evident to us, and have been all the time. HOPE&CHANGE!

  9. cyclingscholar says:

    James you have never read the ‘secret life of plants?’ Shame on you…picking on a helpless defenseless vegetable! Green peas scream 1 volt a piece when tossed into boiling water…good thing they are not connected in series, or american housewives would be fried!

  10. Wendy Baroli says:

    Great information – in fact I am writing to ask if you would consider signing our petition @

    Our land grant university, Nevada Reno has a college of agriculture that has done a poor job changing with the new sustainable agriculture and decentralization of food. In fact, they have done so poorly that the program has no merit any longer with small farmers and ranchers and their children are leaving the state to become educated – in a self fulling prophecy the ag program has become a broom closet. The real issue for us in this region (it is the closest of its kind within 500 miles) is that in an urban interface of an 1100 acre farm with fields corrals, a home station, 4000 acre feet of water and a USDA slaughter and meat packaging facility all owned by the college of agriculture must be thought of as an asset for the future of all urban rural communities. Food independence comes from a certain balance between inspected facilities for local meat production, local production agriculture of scale, and a means of local delivery. It seems to me you understand this – and had Quail Hollow had her dang beautiful meats processed at a small facility like Wolfpack meats that horrible minion of the centralized nanny state would have not have a leg to stand on – the veggie thing was just another trumped up charge of BS – but the meat, that is what sends the inspectors in to another zone.

    Thanks so much for taking a look!
    Wendy Baroli

  11. Michael says:

    Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who has addressed this issue. He spoke out against the raw milk raid on the Amish Farmer and the corporate monopoly of agribusiness. Corporations love regulation because it forces smaller business to comply with expensive regulations which they can’t afford to do. Plus, their lobbist help to write the regulations to “protect us.” Get to know your local sherriff because they have the most jurisdiction in the county and they could have stopped this raid from happening. There are a number of instances where sherriffs have made Feds back down and it a way to strengthen local control. This is not a liberal vs conservative issue. It is a freedom vs control issue and both parties cater to the power elite that run this country. Look at candidates stance on personal liberty. There aren’t many of them and Ron Paul is one that has been consistent on this issue for 30 + years.

  12. Sam says:

    I hear you James, but you don’t go nearly far enough. Where is the Justice for the victims of the chicken, the pig and the cow? Does the grasshopper not have Rights too? Who thinks about the “children” of the common fly… the maggots? Where is the love for them? We need to prosecute all murder of our fellow life forms. Bring on the chicken courts! Institute the death sentence for the murderer! No problem, ust bring the offending chickens over to my homestead, I’ll carry out the sentence. I will not even waste the carcasses of these despicable murdering chickens, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, but grill them up and feed their tasty, nourishing, criminal meat to my lovely little girl.

  13. Gustavo M says:

    Name calling and preaching aside, please. Let us behave civilly toward one another at least.

    The methods in which factory farms raise meat animals are deplorable crimes against life. Both to consumers who receive a tainted product, and the poor creatures subjected to inhuman tortures. Watch one video on a factory farm’s methods. Or take it upon yourselves to kill, butcher, and clean your own meat even once. At the very least, have a thought for the living thing that gave its life for you, and how it fits into the ecosystem which you yourself are also a part of.

    This mass-production of meat is a very inefficient way to consume protein at this point in our species’ development. Meat is light-intensive, and trophically makes less sense than acquiring most of our energy and protein from vegetable sources and supplementing that with animal protein.
    That said, I consume sustainably harvested fish and occasionally deer, which are overpopulating without a wolf population to keep them in check. These are respectfully gathered; either by a hunter I know (deer), or by a company that I have reviewed and that I trust. (fish)

    This bickering is unseemly. We are talking about the future of our freedom to feed ourselves; a primal right of living things. With enough regulation, it can be decided that “undesirables” have their access to food and clean water restricted.
    The third world and the poor have been undergoing this broad targeting for years. Now when more affluent populations are feeling the pinch is it becoming apparent that our society is not entirely free.
    I for one am glad to see it; with shared suffering comes some measure of shared understanding. I hope this makes us all stand together against the hierarchical systems of the past, and move toward a more productive and positive future.

    • Coley Hudgins says:

      Good points. Agree with you that the warehousing of our protein is both immoral and dangerous, but see nothing ethically wrong with consuming animals. If you’re interested, check out Joel Salatin’s book “Folks this ain’t normal.” Salatin is this enigmatic, Libertarian, Christian, organic farmer from the Shenandoah Valley that makes an incredibly strong and reasoned case for the benefits of grass-fed beef. I’ll admit, I’m a very late convert to the whole idea of organic anything, but folks like Salatin have convinced me beyond a doubt that our farming techniques (monoculture, factory raised protein, etc.) are hugely counter-productive.

      • Gust says:

        Agreed on the monoculture being ridiculous and costly to the world.

        As to grass-fed anything; as long as it’s a part of a producing ecosystem (man made or not) and is respectfully gathered, I’ll eat it.

        “Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
        But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship,
        And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.
        When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
        “By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
        Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

        Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet

  14. Emsmedbol says:

    Any control-freak from Julius Caesar to the present has used this food club to keep the peasants from revolting…remember Stalin in the Ukraine?  As for mixed gardening and crop rotation; they were ‘perfected’ in the Bronze Age.  How soon we forget or are led astray

  15. Ken Brodeur says:

    It is becoming abundantly clear of how beneficial raw food is,  and raw food is everywhere, even in cities and the knowledge that humans are scavenging omnivores making almost anyplace on earth habitable along with the best educational device- the internet- an inevitable downfall for central control.  I say GREAT, make the bureaucrats and political class finally work for a living doing REAL productive activity like growing food!  

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