How We Will Eat Come the Revolution: The Cuba Diet

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's industrialized farming collapsed as well, lacking fuel, equipment, fertilizers and subsidies- its agricultural production fell off a cliff. They weren't going to get a lot of help from the US, and so Cuba truly became an island, "outside the international economic system, a moon base whose supply ships had suddenly stopped coming.". The Cuban diet went from 3,000 calories a day to under 2,000, and everyone was hungry. Not any more: essentially, Cubans learned to be organic farmers. "In so doing they have created what may be the world's largest working model of a semi-sustainable agriculture, one that doesn't rely nearly as heavily as the rest of the world does on oil, on chemicals, on shipping vast quantities of food back and forth. They import some of their food from abroad—a certain amount of rice from Vietnam, even some apples and beef and such from the United States. But mostly they grow their own, and with less ecological disruption than in most places." They are still short of meat and milk, but everyone is eating again.

Cuba is not a political model that we have any wish to emulate, but the lessons they have learned about agriculture may have something to teach us as we face our own problems with oil-based agriculture. Read the fascinating article by Bill McKibben in ::Harpers