Reply To: 8. Past solutions for future transitions

Author Replies
Josefin Heed # Posted on May 5, 2015 at 16:32

Case study

The formulation of a problem
Food is not scarce but often produced using more energy than what is produced as calories. This development has some during a period when energy has been cheap and abundant, technology and the economy has therefore encouraged this. There is no sign that energy will become expensive in the nearest future, and food production is not reducing its energy use.
Sweden does not have its own politics to govern food production, it is all decided by the EU through the Common agricultural policy (CAP). The government is now in the process of developing a national food strategy, which is supposed to be adopted next year. Some researchers say that in the 1920s-30s the food production in Sweden was at its sustainability and welfare peak. Cheap energy had not yet entered the market but the democratization, higher education and building of the welfare system had begun. Can we go back to this period and simulate what type of development of food production we could have had if cheap energy had never entered the market? Can we find some ideas here for the future and the making of the Swedish national food strategy?

Research questions
What lessons can be learned from farming development in the 1920s-1930s for the Swedish national food strategy?

Suggested methods
– Choose one village/landscape as a study landscape (Börje socken)
– Studying old farm school books to see what type of things the farmers learned,
– Diaries from farms where the farmers write what they buy/sell and to what price and how that changes when cheap energy enters the market
– Interview old farmers who has some rememberance of farming development in the mid 20th century.
– Using the concept modes of production to study how the labour, means of production and social and technical relations changed due to cheap energy and what effect that had on the development of food production in Sweden in that breaking point.
– It would be interesting to combine this with economy theories and methods.
– You could also use systems theory to follow the cheap energy and its effect on prices, farming methods and technology development.

Literature; a certain book or a couple of articles
Agricultural history of Sweden in Fembandsverket, Kungliga Skogs- och Lantbruksakademien (KSLA):
Banaju, Jarius. 2010. Theory as history: Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation. Brill.
Articles/chapters by Donald Worster