“A charge leveled against organic agriculture is that it is more philosophy than science. There’s some truth to this indictment, if that is what it is, though why organic farmers should feel defensive about it is itself a mystery, a relic, perhaps, of our fetishism of science as the only credible tool with which to approach nature.”
Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma, p. 150
In the Omnivore’s Dilemma Pollan makes clear the cost of privileging science over perspective. Almost to say that the way we see the problem is the problem and that Non-Organic systematic standardization has taken the place of Organic living organism complexity. Mastering nature has taken the place of living in nature. Ultimately the shift needed to repair our agriculture is one of perspective first and then science.
I spent the day reading Pollan and terms like interdependence, complexity, feedback loops and organisms. One particular term Pollan gets from Joel Salatin is Holon. From the Greek term holos meaning whole and the suffix on as in proton–an entity that from one perspective is a self contained whole and from another perspective is a dependent part (such as a body organ). Of course Pollan gives us a history of the word and helps us to understand Salatin’s use. What a nice way to help understand that permaculture is so much more than science–yes it is important to understand how animals are hardwired but just as important to understand individual animals are not static. The holon works with other holons but also inside other holons, or better yet as a Möbius strip of inside and outside at the same time, depending on perspective. You have ecology, farm, species, individual, and parts all working independently yet inseparable in non-hierarchical ways.
One last quote from Pollan, p.212:
Industrial Processes follow a clear, linear, hierarchical logic that is fairly easy to put into words, probably because words follow a similar logic: First this then that; put this in here then out comes this. But the relationship between cows and chickens on this farm (leaving aside the other creatures and relationships there) takes the form of a loop rather than a line, and that makes it hard to know where to start, or how to distinguish between causes and effects, subjects and objects.
And that loop maybe one of a feedback Möbius strip…