Reflections on progress

The subsequent paragraphs written by Jean-Louis Flandrin explain precisely the need for alternative food networks and validate the potential impact of Slow Food on our industrialized landscape.

“The undeniable advances in agriculture have brought problems along with benefits. The exodus from the countryside has left today’s farmers in possession of much larger farms than in the past. They obtain much better yields from the soil with less effort, thanks to mechanization, artificial fertilizers, and new species, yet they suffer from crises of overproduction, and [are] burdened by enormous debt.

Strangely enough, neither farmers nor farm organizations seem inclined to question the wisdom of the continual improvements in yields that have led to the present situation of chronic oversupply and attempts to limit production by leaving some land unplanted. Nor do they seem to worry that steadily falling agricultural prices (coupled with the fact that the demand for food cannot increase indefinitely) have decreased the share of the average family budget spent on food.

For consumers the benefits of agricultural progress are no less ambiguous. Not only has the environment been seriously polluted by modern fertilizers and intensive farming methods, but the decrease in food prices has been accompanied by a decrease in quality. Fruits look impeccable to the naked eye because they are free from damage by insects or disease, yet they may be tainted by invisible pesticides. Harvested while still immature, they lack fragrance and flavor…Gourmets will often travel long distances to buy [produce and meat] from specialty farmers. Is this progress?”

What a great question to end on.

a modest practice in farming



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