Brown Stuff

Michael Perelman michael at
Thu Aug 5 16:08:52 PDT 1999

What Jim Heartfield cited below is utter nonsense. Yes, one farmer feeds more people than in 1900. So does the check out operator in a supermarket.

In 1900, farmer made their own fertilizer, tractors [then horses], etc. With the refinement of the division of labor, work that was done on the farm moved off the farm to the factory.

Also, when I wrote Farming for Profit in a Hungry World back in 1977, I found that for each calorie of food produced, 10 calories of fossil fuel were consumed in the process. Also, I found 30 pounds of soil erosion for each pound of food consumed.

I assume that things have deteriorated since I first did my research.

Yes, I know that some food is exported, however the US is a net food importer today in value terms, I believe.

Jim heartfield cited :

> In 1900 an American farmer fed seven other people. Today his great
> grandson feeds 96. Turn your back on the increased grain yields and
> mechanisation that made that possible if you want, but don't omplain if you
> are one of the 89 in every 96 people who are surplus to
> requirements.
> --
> Jim heartfield

-- Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321 E-Mail michael at

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