Bodley John. H. Anthropology And Contemporary Human Problems
1983. ISBN 0874846714
The food systems of industrial nations represent an enormous advance in the evolutionary progress and a proportionate loss in long-run adaptive success.
The primary distinguishing feature of these systems is their fossil fuel energy subsidy, which permits very high crop yields for very low inputs of human energy. Other critical aspects are the extreme complexity of the production-consumption chain, and the tendency to increase the per capita energy and resource cost of food consumption through expanded dependence on synthetic and highly processed foods and inefficiently produced animal protein.
These systems are not only far more costly in terms of per capita demands for energy and resources, but they are unquestionably more frail than tribal systems, they demand much more intensive ecosystem management, and they have greater potential for environmental deterioration. Perhaps, most critically, they can clearly not be sustained at present rates of increase or even at present levels unless they are radically restructured. It is also very doubtful that, if such systems diffuse, they could be supported at all on a global basis, given present population levels.
These are critical issues because the present strategy for solving the world food crisis not only ignores the fact that many of the problems are inherent features of state-level cultures based on intensive food production systems, but also makes the dangerous assumption that industrial food systems will feed the world if only they can be established everywhere.