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  • gogators!
  • Waygook Lord

    • 6383

    • March 16, 2016, 04:35:48 pm
    • Seoul
You can't feed cities of 10 million on subsistence farmers bringing in an extra bushel of sweet potatoes from their harvest on bicycles in autumn.

You need imported or domestic out-of-season greenhouse grown crops, transported over long distances in an efficient manner, as well as refridgerated/frozen/canned/bulk dry goods. Those require trucks.

City-folk would starve themselves within a month if all their ideas were actually put into practice.
Not everyone lives in a city of 10 million. Heck, not everyone has refrigeration.

What does your farm produce, country boy?


Not everyone lives in a city of 10 million. Heck, not everyone has refrigeration.

What does your farm produce, country boy?
You can't feed a city of 100,000 with subsistence farming and random bushels of sweet potatoes on bikes. You need at least plantation level output.

You can feed a city of 1,000,000 using pre-industrial methods, the only problem is you get periodic famines. You also get a substantial decrease in food variety.

Please tell me how you plan to get substantial quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables (or canned) into and around the city during the dead of winter without motorized transport.

I suppose you could bring bat horses, but I think the animal rights people will kick up a fuss. That and the whole streets filled with piss and sh*t thing.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • 🇰🇷
You can't feed a city of 100,000 with subsistence farming.
Well, I mean, per definition, you can't feed a city of *any* size with subsistence farming.


Well, I mean, per definition, you can't feed a city of *any* size with subsistence farming.
You could sort of. 10,000. Maybe even 50,000 in places with year-round growth and decent fishing and pastures nearby. I mean we did get ancient cities. But it ain't easy. Industrialization and motorized transport just make it so much easier and much more margin for error. You aren't going to have a food panic because once a decade the temperatures dropped below freezing.


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3811

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Well, I mean, per definition, you can't feed a city of *any* size with subsistence farming.

"Oh, you English teachers on an English teachers' site.  With your dictionaries and definitions.  Meanings change, words mean what we want them to!  Therefore you are wrong for using the dictionary." --a small handful of contrarians and dingbats, probably

Edit a few seconds later:

See!?
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 12:50:37 pm by Mr C »


"Oh, you English teachers on an English teachers' site.  With your dictionaries and definitions.  Meanings change, words mean what we want them to!  Therefore you are wrong for using the dictionary." --a small handful of contrarians and dingbats, probably
Imagine being an English teacher and a speaker of English and thinking that words DON'T change meaning and people adapt them to mean what they want to.

Definitions work when they are mutually agreed upon as an arbiter OR as a method to explain something. They are not codified law. The only people who get worked up over this are people with control issues and OCD types.


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3811

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Imagine being an English teacher and a speaker of English and thinking that words DON'T change meaning and people adapt them to mean what they want to.

Definitions work when they are mutually agreed upon as an arbiter OR as a method to explain something. They are not codified law. The only people who get worked up over this are people with control issues and OCD types.

Imagine being anyone and thinking "subsistence farming" means anything other than "farming at a subsistence level."

It is to laugh.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • 🇰🇷
You could sort of. 10,000. Maybe even 50,000 in places with year-round growth and decent fishing and pastures nearby. I mean we did get ancient cities. But it ain't easy. Industrialization and motorized transport just make it so much easier and much more margin for error. You aren't going to have a food panic because once a decade the temperatures dropped below freezing.
I meant "subsistence farming" as in farming only enough to feed oneself.
According to wiki, the average population density that subsistence farming can support is 0.1 people per square kilometer. You would need an area the size of Great Britain to support only 2,000 people if they were all strictly subsistence farming. (I suspect these numbers are true only if one is sitting very close to the bottom of the tech-tree, but one gets the gist of the idea).

True, I suppose it might be technically possible to feed a city if there are especially resource dense areas nearby like fisheries or a migration path of a large animal, but then it's not really farming anymore.

Even the earliest cities depended on specialization in order to function. The whole *point* of early cities was to capitalize on newly developed agricultural technology and use specialist farmers to support various other trades.

The "history of cities" wiki is actually a pretty cool read. I've looked at it before a couple of times, and every time I do, I get all nostalgic about the first dozen or so turns in Civ5, which were always my favourite (I'd often reset after the initial phase, because the rest is just grinding out a path already chosen. Boo.).
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 02:05:22 pm by Kyndo »


  • Augustiner
  • Expert Waygook

    • 626

    • December 06, 2021, 01:18:06 pm
    • Anyang
Imagine being an English teacher and a speaker of English and thinking that words DON'T change meaning and people adapt them to mean what they want to.

Definitions work when they are mutually agreed upon as an arbiter OR as a method to explain something. They are not codified law. The only people who get worked up over this are people with control issues and OCD types.

You got very worked up over exactly this when you were being told by a whole host of people that you were not the final arbiter of how to use the term " a host of..."  So, is this you coming out of the OCD and control issues closet?  You know, we all knew.  Don't sweat it. 

And if this is you actually making this claim in earnest, after the very public meltdown you had in that very recent thread, I just don't know what to make of it. 


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3811

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
You got very worked up over exactly this when you were being told by a whole host of people that you were not the final arbiter of how to use the term " a host of..."  So, is this you coming out of the OCD and control issues closet?  You know, we all knew.  Don't sweat it. 

And if this is you actually making this claim in earnest, after the very public meltdown you had in that very recent thread, I just don't know what to make of it. 

Apparently, there are a host of people who don't know the meaning of "subsistence farming".


You got very worked up over exactly this when you were being told by a whole host of people that you were not the final arbiter of how to use the term " a host of..."  So, is this you coming out of the OCD and control issues closet?  You know, we all knew.  Don't sweat it. 

And if this is you actually making this claim in earnest, after the very public meltdown you had in that very recent thread, I just don't know what to make of it.
This isn't some colloquialism that is being used by a bunch of people. This was someone deliberately exaggerating and misstating things, then retroactively applying a definition to win an argument. This isn't the case of slang where a bunch of people start to use a term to describe something.

If you can't see the difference between the two, you're an idiot.


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3811

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
This isn't some colloquialism that is being used by a bunch of people. This was someone deliberately exaggerating and misstating things, then retroactively applying a definition to win an argument. This isn't the case of slang where a bunch of people start to use a term to describe something.

If you can't see the difference between the two, you're an idiot.

What, that host is a word with many shades of meaning and subsistence farming means exactly and only one thing? 

Yeah, we can all see that.  Why can't you?


  • Savant
  • The Legend

    • 3611

    • April 07, 2012, 11:35:31 pm
Just like aspects of farming, Marty’s arguments are unsustainable.




Apparently, there are a host of people who don't know the meaning of "subsistence farming".
Subsistence farming can still result in minimal surpluses, such as the amount that could be carried on a bicycle. Look it up.


  • Bakeacake
  • Expert Waygook

    • 561

    • July 12, 2010, 01:35:40 pm
    • Pohang South Korea
stop saying...  if you ________ then you're an idiot.  if you dont stop doing that, then you're an idiot


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • 🇰🇷
It is true.
When people talk about modern subsistence farming, they're usually talking about farming with "little or no surplus". Whatever isn't directly eaten is used as barter for other necessary items.
It's not subsistence in the strictest sense, as there *is* trade of surplus, but economists don't care because it doesn't directly contribute to an economy, so the term gets used for that.
Point is, though, that this kind of farming -- even with bartering of minimal surpluses -- isn't enough to entirely support additional people. This would preclude the existence of cities where specialist farmers are required to sustain (relatively) high population densities.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 03:20:12 pm by Kyndo »


What, that host is a word with many shades of meaning and subsistence farming means exactly and only one thing? 
Host is always used to refer to a large number when used in terms of quantity. There is no popular usage of it otherwise.
Subsistence farming can nominally support support small cities. (10,000) How do we know this?  Prior to the rise of cities we only had subsistence farming. Subsistence farmers came together to create the first settlements. Subsistence farming persisted in many areas into the 20th century pre-large scale industrial interaction and also supported some settlements.

But, yes the point is that while it has in practice, it has been incredibly unstable and prone to famine.



  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3811

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Host is always used to refer to a large number when used in terms of quantity. There is no popular usage of it otherwise.
Subsistence farming can nominally support support small cities. (10,000) How do we know this?  Prior to the rise of cities we only had subsistence farming. Subsistence farmers came together to create the first settlements. Subsistence farming persisted in many areas into the 20th century pre-large scale industrial interaction and also supported some settlements.


Yeah, that's what we've been saying.  Only an idiot wouldn't understand that ...


Point is, though, that this kind of farming -- even with bartering of minimal surpluses -- isn't enough to entirely support additional people. This would preclude the existence of cities where specialist farmers are required to sustain (relatively) high population densities.
I think part of it is what gets termed "city" now vs. ancient times is completely different. In ancient times, the "big" cities were often anywhere from 5-20,000 people. Little more than towns today. You did get some that reached 100,000 in ancient times. Their techniques and crop yields probably weren't that substantial compared to today's subsistence farmers, but differing levels of calorie intake, food being used as taxation, etc. enabled cities to grow with subsistence peasant farmers.

However, as I said, this was all incredibly unstable. Also, it was often accompanied by pastures and fishing, as well as raiding and conquest.

Anyways, back to the original point- It would be virtually impossible impossible to support a city with bicycles and the random bushel of sweet potatoes or corn being brought in on bike.