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There has been a progressive reaction toward the industrialization of food.  “Natural” became more narrowly defined by “organic” and organic became subdivided between large scale agriculture with continental and global distribution, and smaller more artisanal scaled production with local and regional distribution.  The newest development in food production is what has been termed “Nutrient-Dense” or “Deep Organic” food.  These are foods that are produced by optimizing soil chemistry and diversifying farm biology.  The primary emphasis is on soil structure and nutrients but also includes creating on-farm habitat for a wide range of organisms most of which are greatly beneficial to food crops.  Early studies have suggested that crops grown this way are more resilient to pests, are richer in important human nutrients, and conserves and enhances biological diversity.  This diversity is foundational to all ecosystems and essential for sustainable agriculture.   And because this form of agriculture tends to be more intensive, or more densely planted, it may offer a way to increase world food supplies for an expanding human population without usurping more land for agriculture.

There is much good to be said about Nutrient-Dense/Deep Organic agriculture, and it may well be that it or some form of it will be the most sustainable way to feed ourselves without further degrading the environment, however, it is important to note that as currently practiced it is far more labor intensive than conventional mechanized agriculture; this tends to make food more expensive, and it is unclear if it is scalable, especially for grains which remain, and possibly will always remain, the richest source of human food energy.

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