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Monday, 19 January 2015



Rather than moving from camp to camp in search of food, by 8000BC the people who dwelled in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys had began to plant seeds themselves and grow their own barley and wheat. They were also rearing their own goats and sheep. These first farmers now had a permanent source of food and they no longer had to depend on hunting for their meat. They were less subject to variations of the weather and the dangers of hunting.

Independently a type of agriculture centered upon maize in Peru and rice in South Eastern Asia had emerged by 7500BC.

Domesticated cows were being farmed in Greece and Crete by 6000BC after wild cattle were attracted to the fields of grain and robbed the locals of their food. Captured and bred they were farmed both for their meat and their milk.

As far back as 6000 BC, farmers alternated planting crops each year. They did not understand the chemistry of crop roration, but knew that doing so kept the soil healthy for good harvests.

The laws of Moses include some detailed priestly legislation. No farmer, for instance, was permitted to muzzle an ox when it was treading corn (Deuteronomy. 25.4). The animal could not be expected to perform the task while having food before its eyes without being able to eat some of it.

By 350 BC the Chinese had developed fish farming and the first treatise on carp culture had been written by Fan Li with useful advice on the construction, harvesting and economic management of fishponds.

Charlemagne ordered that all his farms have fish ponds to encourage the eating of fish on church fast days.

In medieval Bavaria, farmers harvested strawberries and tied small baskets of the fruit to the horns of their cows as an offering to the elves. They believed it would help their cows produce healthy calves and a good supply of milk.

In 1701 Jethro Tull invented the first mechanical seed-drill. Before his invention people sowed seeds by scattering them by hands. Tull’s machine could plant several rows of seeds at regular intervals, which meant that less seed was wasted. Tull used his first seed-drill on his own farm without telling anybody else for thirty years. His invention was the first step in the use of machines in British agriculture.

The selective breeding of cattle began in England in about 1770, with pioneer work by Robert Bakewell, an English farmer who lived between 1725 and 1795. His method was to pick a bull of good beef quality and mate it to a cow of similar good qualities. By carrying this plan of mating through several generations of cattle, he developed fine beef-type animals that usually had young of the same characteristics. His methods, qualified by later scientific discoveries in genetics, are still used by cattle breeders.

Modern high-volume poultry farms, with rows of cages stacked indoors for control of heat, light and humidity, began to proliferate in Great Britain around 1920.

Industrial refrigeration machinery and road transport had become more widespread by the 1920s, changing the American dairy industry. More farmers were by then milking their cows and temporarily storing the milk in large refrigerated tanks, then sending it on to the cities. Where the city's dairy herds had lived in the outer suburbs, they now increasingly frequently they were to be found much further away from the city.

The organic gardening and farming movement was founded in 1942 in America by Jerome Rodale.

In 1994 controls of export of British beef to the continent were imposed due to fears of contamination from BSE. The livelihoods of many British farmers were affected. Such health scares contributed to many turning to vegetarian options.

In 1997, rice farmers in Laos reported the successful use of pig manure as a snail repellent.


Each year, the American federal government gives $25 billion in subsidies to the farm industry. Most of it goes to large agribusinesses and farmers - according to one analysis, about three-fourths of all agriculture handouts go to just 10 percent of the nation's farms.

70% of the grain grown in the U.S. is fed to farmed animals, and it takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat.

Forty percent of the farm-grown catfish in the United States is consumed by Texans.

Only 4 percent of the Earth’s surface is suitable for growing food.

Here is a list of songs about farming.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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