Eating as a Sumbiovore

Beetroot 2016 IMG_3205

We need to replace the term ‘organic food’ with something new, a concept that does not have such bad press and confusing standards. It is clear that we need a term that cannot be used as an instrument of propaganda by vested interests. It is worth noting the irony that the word ‘organic’ has its origins in Late Middle English via Latin from the Greek organikos  ‘relating to an organ or instrument’.

I now offer the term ‘Sumbiosic Food’. Sumbiosic is derived from the Greek sumbiosis, meaning companionship, itself derived from the Greek sumbios, meaning living together, and the Greek bios, meaning life. Food is that which sustains human and other forms of life. We can now substitute the word organic with the word sumbiosic.

Sumbiosic Food, Sumbioculture and being a Sumbiovore

Sumbiosic food will be food that is produced by humans that enhances mutual interdependence between the non-living foundations of life (biogeochemical systems) and all species as living beings. In doing so such food production will conserve and maximise the living systems that constitute communities of life. Sumbiosic food celebrates the interconnectedness of life (living together) and rejects food production systems that; deplete the soil base, practice extensive monoculture, poison the food chain, render species extinct, introduce risky DNA into life that cannot be  removed once introduced and emissions that create global problems such as Anthropogenic climate change.

In order to build positive interconnectedness and genuine resilience in food systems, sumbiosic farming (the praxis of sumbioculture) will build soil fertility, support local and regional biodiversity, eschew poisons and toxins, practice polyculture, actively conserve water and recycle all forms of nutrients.

The consumption of sumbiosic food from sumbiosic agriculture will support human and ecosystem health and will nurture the maximum diversity of life consistent with the aim of producing food for humans (and other beings such as companion animals). It is a tougher ‘standard’ for food than ‘organic’ as organic systems can currently be monocultures and have no connection to the foundations of life in bio-regional contexts.

If you eat sumbiosic food you are a sumbiovore and can be described as a sumbiotarian if you support the whole system of sumbiosic food production and consumption within the broader category of sumbiosic human development.


About glennaalbrecht

Farmosopher at The Wallaby Farm, NSW: Glenn Albrecht retired as professor of sustainability at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia in June 2014. He is now an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney. He was at the University of Newcastle as Associate Professor of Environmental Studies until December 2008. He is an environmental philosopher with both theoretical and applied interests in the relationship between ecosystem and human health, broadly defined. He pioneered the research domain of 'psychoterratic' or earth related mental health and emotional conditions with his concept of 'solastalgia' or the lived experience of negative environmental change. Solastalgia has become accepted worldwide as a key concept in understanding the impact of environmental change in academic, creative arts, social impact assessment and legal contexts. Glenn Albrecht’s work is now being used extensively in course readings, new research theses and academic research in many disciplines including geography and environmental studies. His work is also being published in languages other than English. He has publications in the field of animal ethics and has published on the ethics of relocating endangered species in the face of climate change pressures and the ethics of the thoroughbred horse industry worldwide. With Professor Phillip McManus (Sydney University) he has completed a book which was published in 2012 by Routledge on the thoroughbred industry. He also published with Professor McManus on the newly emerging domain of ‘psychoterratic geographies’ (McManus and Albrecht 2013). With colleagues, Nick Higginbotham (University of Newcastle) and Linda Connor (Sydney University) under Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants, he has researched the impact of mining in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW, Australia and the impact of climate change on communities, again in the Hunter Region. He has researched the impact of gas fracking and coal mining on people and communities in the Gloucester region of NSW. Glenn has also been involved as a Chief Investigator in an ARC Discovery Grant Project on the social and ethical aspects of the thoroughbred horse industry worldwide and was a partner investigator on ARC Linkage Grant funded research on the ethics of feral buffalo control in Arnhem Land. He has held an NCCARF grant at Murdoch University to study the likely impact of climate change on water provision in two inland cities (Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie). Glenn Albrecht is also a pioneer of transdisciplinary thinking and, with Higginbotham and Connor, produced a major book on this topic, Health Social Science: A Transdisciplinary and Complexity Perspective with Oxford University Press in 2001. His current major transdisciplinary research interest, the positive and negative psychological, emotional and cultural relationships people have to place and its transformation is one that sees him having a national and international research profile in an emergent field of academic inquiry where he has been recognised as a global pioneer. International citations to his academic works are now increasing annually and reference to his concept of solastalgia in global art and culture is now too extensive to fully document. Glenn now works as an independent academic based in the Hunter Region of NSW. He continues to research and publish in his chosen fields. He is a current grant assessor for Commonwealth Ministry of Arts grant applications and an Honorary Associate in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney.
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2 Responses to Eating as a Sumbiovore

  1. Stevie says:

    Interesting as always, but I have a question: How does sumbioculture differ from permaculture? I was under the impression permaculture meant an interconnection between systems to produce a sustainable whole. Ex.your aquaculture tilapia pond is connected to your garden so the fish poop acts as fertilizer for your vegetables. I have a very limited understanding of permaculture, so the details of what I said could be untrue, but that’s the general idea.


  2. Yes, I have tried to acknowledge this point at:
    I am working on these ideas so much more is needed to fill in the detail. The ‘sumbios’ I am trying to establish has many elements, including the ghedeist! I am not sure that permaculture got that far?


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