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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Do You know Who This Farmer is?

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

 He who fights monsters must take care he does not become a monster himself.  ~ Nietzsche


Do you know who this man is?

According to some estimates, he's saved one billion lives. (Remember, there are 7 billion people living on the planet now).

His name is Norman Borlaug, and by developing new crop varieties and growing methods -- basically using biology to influence seeds -- he has probably saved more lives than any man living.

The technology he finely tuned was spread to other parts of the world where people go hungry. In short, he started the Green Revolution, and has fed more people than any other human being in history.

If you ever wondered at some point why India and China no longer have massive famines, it's because Norman Borlaug taught them how to grow grains in a more efficient way. Now, instead of having starving people, India and China are exporting grains.

But here's the funny thing...

Borlaug started his research in Mexico.

"Innovation is this very strange seed ... And it plants itself in different climates and different places."

Yet there are no monuments of Borlaug in Mexico. There are in China and India.

That's because Mexico rejected Borlaug's vision. They didn't adopt his technology. They ignored it. And today, Mexico remains one of the largest importers of grains on the planet.

I learned a lot about the Norman Borlaug story through
Juan Enriquez.

Among other things, Juan was CEO of Mexico City's Urban Development Corporation, where he was responsible for transforming part of a major city into a flourishing modern day metropolis.

"The Institute that this guy ran," says Juan of Norman Borlaug, "has now moved to India."

"That is the difference between adopting technologies and discussing technologies.

"It's not just that this guy fed a huge amount of people in the world. It's that this is the net effect in terms of what technology does across the world."

"Innovation is this very strange seed," he says. "And it plants itself in different climates and different places. And over the past century... it sprouted in the United States."

As a prime example, Juan emphasizes, "The area around MIT is equal to about the 13th largest economy in the planet." We'll pause a moment to let you think about that.

If we take that idea seriously, then Cambridge Massachusetts, through the knowledge output of its universities and the economic output of its companies...

...generates more wealth than South Africa, Ireland and Switzerland, combined.

How is this one zip code in the U.S. outperforming multiple developed countries?

In these U.S. zip codes, these clusters of technology and innovation, the government helps an abundance of small ventures, and then gets out of the way.

Contrast that with a place like Detroit, where there's not an abundance of small and innovative companies... but a small number of big corporations, like GM. When a company like GM goes belly-up... everyone in the area feels the pain, and they take much longer to re-adapt.

According to Juan, "this road is splitting quickly" when it comes to super-zip codes and poverty-stricken areas.

In the age of globalization, scientists, technologists, engineers and other "knowledge economy" leaders are not limited by geography. If the government stops giving them a grant, they pick up and move somewhere else. Like Norman Borlaug.

You can see this going as far back as WWII. German rocket scientists didn't want to come to the U.S. They wanted to stay in Germany. But America had money, and we made it worth their while.

Much of "the dividing road" is cultural. After Sputnik was launched, mothers wanted their kids to be scientists and engineers. And now there's a divide, even a fear, of science and technology -- as if it has to threaten our value system.

Take an example of more recent times. When the Bush Administration halted funding for stem cell research, the scientists involved moved wholesale to China. Fortunately, there were no limitations on private development, and states like California chipped in with new money for R&D. That was enough to sustain a critical mass for stem cell research.

But probably some of the best medical research that's done in the world is at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which housed 550 some scientists at the time. After Bush halted funding for stem cell research, almost 100 went straight to China.

That same scenario could happen in any other field of science and technology. If that happens, the evaporation of wealth in America would be as devastating as it would be unnecessary.

- Josh Grasmick

This article originally appeared


Garden delayed this year? Join a Community Supported Ag Group

Unable to get all the vegetables into the ground that you wanted this year, sign up for a local CSA to make up the difference. Some CSAs also offers shares in meat, dairy and wine if I were so inclined; although I haven’t decided if it’s worth the additional charge for my household yet.


The reason I bring this up now is because it won’t be long before the first harvests are ready and many CSAs around the country still have plenty of room for new participants. Not only is joining a CSA a great way to support local agriculture, but it is the best way (other than growing your own food) to ensure the integrity of the food you eat on a daily basis.


If you’re interested in signing up for a CSA but don’t know where to begin, I recommend starting with This nationwide site connects you with CSAs in your area (this is how I found the one I ultimately joined) as well as information about other events (including farmer’s markets) in the area.


Find more useful and free resources at:


Yours in freedom,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’


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