Hey so if you weren’t aware, tech is trying so so so hard to go all Elizabeth Holmes on agriculture, and has been for some time now... [THREAD]
Whether it’s outfits like @ImpossibleFoods proselytizing veganism or vertical startups insisting on making just soooo much lettuce, the bottom line is that rich people are dumb enough to invest in anything that has the term 10X+EcoFriendly attached to it...
Here’s the thing, besides the 99% less land and water claim being backed up by the ironclad science of “trust me, I’m an entrepreneur”... is that even if it’s true...
Consider California’s Central Valley where almost all the fruits/veggies in the universe come from and whom these startups want to replace. A quick Google search says its got something like 7 million acres under irrigation. That’s in the neighborhood of 300 billion square feet...
Let’s assume that it’s actually true that verticals can grow all the valley’s produce (including the goddamn pistachios, cantaloupes, and other non-lettuces) on 1% of the land. That’s 3 billion square feet (70,000 acres)...
The total commercial office sqft in THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES is est. 4 billion square feet. Assuming a (ridiculously high) vacancy rate of 25%, vertical must increase the commercial footprint of urban areas by 50% (2B sqft) nationwide before the valley winds up underwater...
To say nothing of the fact that vertical, despite occupying less horizontal space & H2O, will still need to get energy in the form of LED lights to 300B sqft of plant surface.

Because you see, vertical just trades a space-and-water problem for a big fat energy problem...
While real farms can’t beat vertical in terms of planting footprint and water use, they absolutely can’t be beat in terms of converting solar energy into biomass. Because the conversion rate is basically 100%, is completely renewable, and takes up no extra space...
Verticals throw shade at real farms RE: water losses owed to evaporation, etc. while conveniently failing to mention their far larger and more important energy losses that’ll have to be made up with fossil fuels or an amount of solar/wind energy that WE PROBABLY CAN’T GENERATE...
Lettuce requires ~3.5 megawatt hours per year per square meter.

To replace the Central Valley, you need to energize almost 28 billion square meters of growing space. That’s 98 million gigawatts per year.

Let’s say you’re producing that with 100% solar...
An acre of solar panels will throw off around 0.357 GWh per year.

Now I’m gonna give you a minute...

Have you done the math yet?
Replacing the sun in the Central Valley would take just shy of 275,000,000 acres of solar panels to power those vertical farms.

That’s a third of all farmland in America.

So in reality, verticals need 275.07 million acres vs. the traditional farms 7 million...
The hilarious truth is the FULL OPPOSITE of what verticals insist: real farms actually require 97% less land than vertical farms because their energy comes, pure and free and uncut, from goddamn outer space...
Beyond that, we could talk all day long about vertical investors’ capitalistic wet dream of AI producing for the vegetable world what the grain world accomplished decades ago with heavy equipment, gene editing, and chemicals: a “food system” that doesn’t involve people...
But why bother attacking a secondary moral premise (humanity) when vertical’s primary moral premise (ecological sustainability) falls apart under the scrutiny of 1.) basic arithmetic and...
2.) The common sense understanding that food production is largely an act of converting solar energy to biomass, and when you remove the SOURCE OF SOLAR ENERGY from that process by taking things indoors, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS...
What kills me most, though, is that rich people will throw BILLIONS of dollars at crackpot future-casting schemes like these whose business plans can’t even survive a critical examination on Twitter, because they promise 100X returns on a platform of bullsh*t...
While I have to prove my EXISTING margins down to the 100th of a cent to raise < $1M because all I’m offering is 1.1X and a planet worth living on. When everyone exaggerates just shy of the legal definition of fraud, at what point does telling the truth become irresponsible?...
When you’re free to underperform all you want, only winding up like Liz Holmes if you both lie about what you’re doing and lose everyone’s money...

How do you solve that moral dilemma (promising 10X when only 1.1X is possible) when every single life on Earth is at stake? /THREAD

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More from @SylvanaquaFarms

26 Oct
THREAD: It’s finally happening. My “book” is coming November 1.

You can get it here: patreon.com/sylvanaqua
My wife and I got into farming for all the reasons people usually do when they leave non-farming careers for the agrarian lifestyle.

That lifestyle, and all the supposed “save the world” benefits that were supposed to come with it, never materialized...
I worked harder than I ever had at anything. The result, if I was lucky, was to pay myself a few hundred dollars a month for 300+ hrs of work. And ordinarily I would’ve just toughed it out until I’d achieved the success of the ag gurus that siren sang me into the trade...
Read 17 tweets
19 Oct
So this is a complicated question with a very complicated answer (click through to the full convo); this question spurred by a particular criticism I have of American dairy.

Here comes a thread...
First, some background. The dairy crisis is most pronounced in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is largely unceded territory belonging to all sorts of Indigenous people, and was populated by Europeans after a particularly brutal series of genocidal massacres...
The farmers in crisis in Wisconsin are largely the descendants of those invaders, whose farmlands are quite literally the bounty of genocide. As a result, the depth of my sympathy for their plight probably couldn’t float a Dixie cup...
Read 22 tweets
12 Oct
This is how lazy farmers are and I really don’t know how @Sarah_k_mock and @SarahTaber_bww deal with this on a daily basis. A thread:

Google didn’t index the entire internet because consumers demanded it; consumers were fine with Altavista and AOL at the time...
Apple didn’t develop the iPod and iPhone because consumers demanded them. Consumers were fine with Discman and the Motorola Q...
The automobile and electric lights weren’t responses to consumer demand. Horses and candles were timelessly reliable; in-home lightning and carriages powered by explosions scared the sh*t out of people...
Read 12 tweets
1 Oct
So, I removed the info of the person who posted this because I respect them and don’t want them trolled.

However, this whitewashed notion of US history, and our failure to address it, is EXACTLY how we ended up with Trump... [THREAD] ImageImage
The Declaration of Independence was effectively a Declaration of War against a British government with the annoying habit of displaying vestiges of recognition of Indian sovereignty. This highbrow document explicitly refers to us as “merciless Indian savages...”
... in order to justify ignoring the Proclamation Line that was holding back a mass invasion of the American interior. With the British out of the way, Americans were “free” (to steal the freedom of others). And some of them even wanted to do it with stolen people...
Read 17 tweets
15 Sep
People in a Hurry: an indigenous perspective of why working with well-intentioned White people is so damn difficult. A thread...
I was interviewed for a book once. It was exciting and flattering; I’d been interviewed for magazines before, but there’s something about winding up in a book that’s just different somehow. The high didn’t last long...
Like most books about the food system, this one was being written by a journalist. She came to our house. She talked fast. She had an agenda (tech in food production). She wanted us to fit into it...
Read 20 tweets
2 Jul
So, in case you don’t know, some more people who can’t do math are releasing a book and documentary about how cows are going to save the planet or whatever. This one’s called “Sacred Cow,” and it’s by nutritionist and non-farmer Diana Rogers of @SustainableDish fame... THREAD
I have no idea what’s in either except, presumably, recycled ideas about carbon sequestration and various unripe mental cherries plucked from America’s most racist farmer:

thelunaticfarmer.com/blog/11/22/201…
I have no idea, either, if Rogers is including her notion that the size of America’s beef herd could not only remain the same, but increase, under an all-grass-fed regime...
Read 17 tweets

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