The farmer who lives nearest to us is a friend and a very good neighbor. Our families have been neighbors and friends for generations. He’s shared wisdom with me over the years and helped me out of several jams.
A couple of weeks ago we were commiserating, like farmers do. I remarked that I was having trouble controlling the grass and weeds in my eggplant, due to all the rain. He said I should get myself a backpack sprayer and some kind of herbicide (he mentioned it by name but I can’t recall it). Because we grow organically, I replied, I can’t do that.
His next words:
“Organic is a crock. If it worked then people wouldn’t have stopped doing it.”
I swallowed hard, suppressing a powerful urge to tell him everything that is wrong with that statement. But instead I thought of all the times he’s been a good neighbor to me and just let it slide.
John Maynard Keynes once said, “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”
Even systems that behave rationally over a long timeline can (and do) behave mighty irrationally for shorter periods.
Humanity has a few thousand years of agricultural experience under its belt now, the last 60 or so years of which have been dominated by extensive use of chemicals and fossil fuels. I’m pretty confident that we’ll all look back someday, when the oil is no longer abundant and cheap and the chemicals and poisons have taken a great toll on us, and wonder why we behaved so irrationally. Hopefully the irrationality won’t outlast our solvency.