Every where you look, the word sustainability pops up, but no where more than when talking about food. Everyone talks about it, everyone agrees it's a good thing, but few really know what it is. It just sounds so good, and I've come to realize that how a word sounds seems to have become far more important than what it actually means.
It has such a nice ring to it.
I suspect that for some it conjures up images of flowing landscapes, all green and lovely, with blue skies and puffy white clouds.
As a word, it's become such a big deal that burger giant McDonalds is scrambling to figure out a way to make it an acceptable part of their advertising.
The fact of the matter though is that the concept of sustainability is really not all that complicated. It doesn't require any extraordinary actions, it doesn't require one to lean west while facing north, or fixate on the color green. Sustainability simply requires one to continue to do what one does without using up what you are using to do it with, and to do in such a way that you produce enough income to keep doing it.
Probably the best way to demonstrate this concept is with raising of cattle. You manage the pasture so that it will grow grass. You place cattle on the pasture to eat the grass. You manage the cattle to keep them healthy so they will produce more cattle. You turn the excess cattle into beef, which is sold to produce income. As long as the ratio of cattle to grass to income is maintained the whole thing is sustainable.
So in this instance, sustainability requires three basic elements, all of which are equally important. Grass, cattle and income. Screw up any of the three and the whole thing becomes unsustainable.
So is the concept of sustainability bogus or trivial? Heck no!
It's just applying a new age term to describe the proper method of doing business.
And it just sounds so cool.
Dad always said, "the ratio of horses to horses’ asses is never one to one"