Re: @jake Absolute, the expression "grinding hard labour" does not even begin to cover it.
There's massive differences between:
a. what one person can grow on a quarter acre large back garden digging the soil by spadework,
b. what someone with a horse ploughing five acres can grow,
c. someone with a medium sized rotavator cultivating 10 acres,
d. and what someone with a biodiesel driven small and simple tractor cultivating 30 acres can grow.
My weekly organic box come from mostly local smallholdings and farms doing c. or d. System c. isn't such a bad match for wind or solar charged battery power, or flexible mains leads on such a small cultivated area. System d. probably needs biodiesel to be fully sustainable - the area is too great for battery recharge or trailing mains cables to be practical. Biodiesel is easy to make in small quantities from old chip oil and methanol, but there's only so much used chip oil.
If you use system a. the energy output is less than the energy input (i.e. food calories less than what the man doing the digging needs to eat). With system b, the horses traditionally used to eat 25% of the land area cultivated for grazing. With option d. once you're out of chip oil, 10% of the land acreage is needed for growing the biofuel.
Sure, I didn't mention option e. where the minimum arable farm size is about 5000 acres and you need a highly developed technology infrastructure to service the machinery and produce the pesticides and fertilisers and breed the seeds. Option e. is the only system which requires massive external fossil energy inputs. The point is, we don't need to depend on it.
You produce about twice as much vegetable food energy per acre that way as option d. But it's tasteless, vitamin and mineral deficient crap food tasting of chemicals, so you'll probably end up throwing nearly all of it through hormone and antibiotic pumped factory pigs and cows to make crap burgers. If crap factory burgers are considered fit for human consumption, the meat cycle will then cost you about 80% of this vegetable food energy. Using option d. and making better use of resulting farm biodiversity and wastes to produce less meat and eggs but at top quality, and some manure digested methane to drive small farm machinery or grain dryers will result in everyone eating better and being healthier, because the corporate capital and technology-driven food produced by option e. is such crap that people overeat and get seriously obese on that diet.
The idea that options a. and e. are the only alternative ways food can be produced is so ignorant it's breathtaking.