POLLAN: THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA; CHAPTER 2: THE FARM How many people does George Naylor’s farm feed? The farm feeds about 129 Americans (measured in terms of output per worker) Why can’t it support the four people who live on the farm? George's crops are basically inedible -- they're commodities that must be processed or fed to livestock before they can feed people. How many bushels of corns does the farm produce per acre? ~180 (<200) bushels of corn from an acre. How does that differ from the 1920s? 1920 was about 20 bushels per acre -- roughly the same yields historically realized by Native Americans. Why do the hybrid varieties introduced from the 1930s need fertilizer to flourish? The higher yield of modern hybrids stems mainly from the fact that they can be planted so close together. Hybrids have been bred for thicker stalks and stronger root systems, the better to stand upright in a crowd and withstand mechanical harvesting. Since no individual plant has inherited any competitive edge over any other , precious resources like sunlight, water, and soil nutrients are shared equitably. ( non-hybrid varieties compete for resources ) Why does Pollan call it the greatest invention of the 20th century? • It gave a boost to food production allowing it to catch up to population growth • No need for crop rotation • More plants per acre producing higher yields (monocropping) What is the Haber-Bosch process? Haber-Bosch process works by combining nitrogen and hydrogen gases under immense heat and pressure in the presence of a catalyst. The heat and pressure are supplied by prodigious amounts of electricity, and the hydrogen is supplied by oil, coal, or, most commonly today, natural gas fossil fuels. (That nitrogen is actually fixed by a bacterium living on the roots of the legume,
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