Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Draw...ANYTHING

So you think you can't draw horses?
Think you can't draw faces? Hands? Buildings? 3D objects? WATER?

Well yes you can, and I will tell you (and later show you) how.

The technique is very simple, almost too simple. But, granted, it takes a bit of training and practicing still - but its a powerful tool and won't take much explaining.

This is the technique to draw anything you see - anything at all. Put all that stigma away, all that baggage that says you're not good at drawing, and replace it with "this is how I will learn to draw".

Sit down and get comfortable, find a place where you can easily see things around you, but are able to draw. Have a hard surface under your paper, and keep the paper steady. Now grab a ruler and place in front of you anything you'd like to draw - a vase full of complicated flowers, a moose skull (why the hell do you have that?), and vase and candle, whatever you want.

Now pick a point in space - an imaginary point in your subject matter, preferably a corner. Just imagine that as an anchor, that is where you'r going to build your picture from. Here is where the technique comes;

hold out your ruler at arms length and measure from that point to any other interesting, exciting, or unique point in space. It could be from the bottom of the vase to the top, for an example. Now take your ruler back to your paper and draw a light line that is equal in length and direction. (If you're paper is too small, divide the distance by half).

At this point you should have a nearly perfect length of the vase drawn on your paper (as an example). From here on out you will just be repeating this step, using starting points and ending points, but always have the starting connected to some point. When you first start out, go CRAZY with lines. When you stop, and are done, you should only see LINES LINES LINES LINES. Not only does this look cool by itself, if you look closely at your paper and the subject matter you should be able to see that they are very similar in size and shape (details omitted, of course).

To do this by hand is very difficult, but if you master this technique it will come with time.

Now that you have your crazy line drawing, start involving detail in the drawing - start adding the actual curvature of the base of the vase into the base of your drawing. You know the length already, now you just need to add in the curves. The most important thing here is : DRAW WHAT YOU SEE. Most people when they draw subject matter in front of them aren't drawing what they see. They are drawing what they think they are seeing.

For example if you put a coffee cup in front of a 4th grader and ask her to draw it, she will not draw what she sees, she will draw a coffee cup, any coffee cup - one she made up in her head. If there is a star on the coffee cup, she will make her 5-sided star and add it to the cup, even if there is a 6 sided star on the cup! (This is just an example, maybe the kids a genius and floors you with her talent).

When you see something, don't think about what it is. ONLY draw the lines that exist. Forget about the bias of it being a vase, or a flower, or a skull. Don't focus on what these things are, only see the lines - the shapes that are made from their form. This will unbias the mind and allow for the best benefit.

As you add more and more detail stop and look at both the subject and your drawing - does everything look OK? Are some of the angles too sharp or wide? Are some things too long? Does it just look...off? Then erase and try again, keeping in mind the anchor points and lines you put in before, maybe you'll have to redo those as well.

Don't draw what you THINK you see. Draw only what you see.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Maximizing Creativity

So you want to be Creative? This will be a post about how I learned to draw and is in three major portions - how I began drawing [elementary], how I got better at it [middle, high school], and how I developed my style [college] and my abilities now. Let me assure you, if I had known all of this stuff at once, the time from beginning to my skills now would be a year or less.

Being creative isn't always intuitive for everyone. But this isn't the same as being only possible for some people, while others must live without it. This is surely false. Here I hope to convince you that creativity is very learned.

How does one become creative?
The short answer is one learns to enjoy it. 

You will not be a creative individual if you rather dislike being creative in whatever context you find yourself in. For instance, I will never, ever be creative behind a computer in a cubicle, while people are talking over the phone about weather for 8 hours a day (don't ask).

However, if I am drawing, and I really enjoy whats being produced, I most certainly will attempt (and improve) again. So how did I start drawing and being "creative"? When I was in elementary school, me and my friends would have competitions. Each day we would bring in a drawing we made at home and we would show some of our friends, and they would tell us which is better. I didn't always win, but when I did it made me feel really good. But it wasn't only that. It was the realization that "wow I bet this will really make people like mine" which soon became "I really like this drawing" - myself. 

I did not simply come into being drawing and being artistic! 

My parents HEAVILY encouraged me on making art. Both parents had art all over, as well as books for me to both copy and practice with. Notice how I just said copy?

Copying is practicing. I know when you first do it it may feel like cheating - regardless if you make an amazing reproduction. But this is learning - this is how you master your mind-to-hand control, and develop your own styles. Counter intuitive?

When I was expanding my horizons in drawing I picked up a lot of Anime drawing books. They were "How-To" books and gave both procedures to draw things and also really good examples of good Anime. To start, or when I hit something very hard I would literally trace the outline, but as time went on this was less needed. I became familiar with styles of anime, and then various more advanced drawing types. A lot of my inspiration came from Fan Art of some of my video games, actually!

As I continued to copy, transform, and learn from other sources, I started developing my own style. Doodling that made me say "This looks cool". Usually produced from boredom in class, but this is how I trained myself in what is appealing to my eye and what isn't.

If I started drawing something and it didn't quite look interesting - I would try and imagine what would make it more interesting, and then do that.

In fact, much of my abilities come from turning mistakes into appealing aspects. If I add a line, and it goes a bit over what I had hoped, or looks disproportionate, I will figure out how I can change the entire picture to reflect a better aesthetic for the "mistake" - in this way, there are no mistakes. 

The real key here is the ability to start drawing [or whatever your artistic expression is], and no matter what, always end on a good note!

Not mine, but beautiful style, no? Look at the shadowing.

Mine, make sure you examine the jaw...

Not mine. Beautiful form, the differences in line weight, the bio-mechanical. Wonderful!

I think the next section, on how I actually learned to draw anything will be in a new post. Stay tuned, as it REALLY DOES SHOW YOU HOW TO DRAW ANYTHING. I used to tell myself I can never draw a hand, or I can never draw faces or people. Then, I learned this technique... and voila. Can do anything.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I've Hit Rock Bottom

"I think I've hit rock bottom"

For me, hitting rock bottom is the ultimate catapult up, but I know this isn't the case for everyone. I think, though, that if a person is able to see rock bottom from a view outside of their own, they will be able to really 'take the reigns' so to speak and climb back up. However, if a person hits rock bottom, and only sees it as "happening to me" and, generally, only internalizes the negative, it will consume a person's thoughts, their day, and their outlooks. Nothing good will come of this.

How to maximize the benefits of hitting rock bottom is to say
"Holy shit - I need to stop doing this, living like this. There is no way I can keep going on like this.
 I will regret this when I die if I continue." 

When that revelation hits, you know its time to change. At that instant it is important to act. It is at this very vulnerable time that this epiphany [of negativity] allows the brain to become plastic, and the person to change readily.

Without that epiphany, change is slow, boring, and tiresome. Its like picking up a new habit that you're only slightly interested in, like exercising when you've been only moderately active your whole life. Daily habit changes are difficult, but certainly not impossible. But that is another post.

For me, I purposefully hit rock bottom sometimes, when I know things aren't going to change just from "I should probably change". I need the statement to become "I need to change".

Hitting rock bottom in a useful way is the ability to see it from a new light, a new perspective. If you continually see your actions the same way, day in and day out, the negative perspective will not push you to do anything, you will simply trudge onward.

A new perspective can be created in only four ways that I know of, maybe there are more, but I don't know:
1.Meditation - meditation can be used in such a way as to completely change your perspective on something. It takes some learning, but after becoming relaxed and focusing on breathing imagine how you would want to see the world. Imagine a way to improve yourself or your surroundings. Imagine yourself being the person you want to be.
2. Hallucinogens - These can be so confronting and intense, that a new perspective is impossible to avoid. These substances cause the brain's signaling pathways to be changed and warped, and it is reflected in how we perceive while under the influence of these. Our lives become radically different as we see them from a new angle, sometimes for better or for worse. Often, people can identify their own negative perspectives here and know how to change them much easier than when sober.
3. Intense Events - evens like seeing a car crash or being in one ourselves can really snap us into reality. We 'wake up' from our daily grind and realize what we have is precious, and that negative view points and negativity overall is only slows us down. Someone who may be depressed or in a hard place of life and seeing a car accident will, undoubtedly, feel much worse. They may hit rock bottom - and realize, though, that time is short, and one must not simply wait for things to get better - they can create good around them, rather than apathetically ignoring it.
4. Completely Random - there are some days when we just wake up and its a new day. Its like someone slipped us something in our sleep. We see the world new, and people seem more vibrant. The color, the air, more crisp. Things seem to make sense on a day like this. It is enlightenment. These are "push-off" days. The days you can really use to elevate yourself to a new level, and allow it to be much easier maintained. I see them as days where the brain becomes extremely plastic, that is, its very easy to mold and change. These are days we should watch inspiring talks. Begin new habits. Talk to new people. These are our push off days.

Next time you aren't feeling so bad there are two things you can do. You can simply sit in it, and wait for things to get better which may or may not happen - OR - you can sit and feel bad, and absorb it - think about how terrible this feeling will be 10 years from now, 20 years from now if you don't change. How you will feel on your death bed if you don't change - BOOM. Push off. Get out of that state of being. Shed the negative and reach for high ground.

Just a short post I wanted to get out there...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Consumerism Trap, Or... America

The Plague of Consumerism and Materialism

Today I had a lengthy discussion about the state of the world with my wonderful girlfriend, but unfortunately the  majority cannot be positive things to speak of. Namely;
"western" society is constructed in such a way to minimize happiness, optimize productivity, and concentrate wealth.

Is it really true, though? Could this really be how things work?

The beginning of the conversation started from an earlier conversation I had on HighExistence.com;

I think that having a yearly salary of $5 million is detrimental to the self, as well as the community, and at larger scales, to a global environment. However, at the same time, I do not feel comfortable with a government entity being able to say "Hey, you can't make anymore money, sorry." Not because I don't need more than $5 mil/yr, but because I don't think government's place is to do that. I think that change needs to be internal, personal, and psychological.

But moving on, I made the point that it is very clear that
1. People buy more things when they feel bad
2. People feel good when they buy things

These are general, and people can deny them if they choose, but deep down, we like getting new things, we like "advancing" our lifestyle - a new computer is a great example. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Well, yes and no. Objectively, in an ideal situation - no, not at all. However, the world isn't ideal, and you are a prey to consumerism. Let me illustrate my point:

I hadn't watched the news for a few months, let alone any television at all, but to humor myself, I turned on the local, nightly news. What was I about to witness - some governmental campaigns? Perhaps some new bills being introduced? How about a new energy source, or research project in the academics? No, I was blasted with 5, yes 5, separate news stories about brutal homicides and tragic deaths. How did I feel after watching this? Besides feeling like absolute shit, because I have the rare disease called empathy (sarcasm), I laughed a little inside. Why was it that this news decided to plaster me with terrible events?

The connection hadn't become clear for months. I realized that larger news agencies - those responsible for big impact (CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc...) knew about the previous idea - these news agencies KNEW that if I felt bad, I would buy more. Sound like a conspiracy theory? Next time you watch the Today Show (or to humor yourself, do it for the first time) you will notice something:
The order of events in news broadcasting go a little something like this:

"And today's news - a mother brutally murders her family..."
[which is followed by the details of the story]
"Wow what a terrible story!"
[Short discussion, feel bad, wow that sucks!]
"So what are the newest fashions, today? Lets go to time square to find out!"

Have you picked up on it yet? What is going on here?

Its a simple recipe;
Make the consumer feel bad.
Present something [to buy] to make them feel good.

If you can identify what is going on here, maybe you can see the subtleties beyond this; it is everywhere. I can't admit it, and don't believe it myself, but my girlfriend admits she likes to watch people suffer - she enjoys watching people be humiliated on TV. Hence why reality shows are so popular. People, for whatever reason, tend to enjoy others experiencing negative things. A strong sense of empathy will take you out of this group - however, with only a little bit of empathy, maybe you'll feel just a slight bit bad. And now a word from our sponsors. See, again?

Television has become a manipulation of our instincts. When we feel bad we want comfort. So what would a truly ingenious capitalist do?
Make people feel negative all the time, while providing easily accessible materials to choose from and, most importantly, purchase.

Do you believe it - A blind sheep in the shopping mall that is America? Allowing external influences control your happiness, your sadness?

Consider it, the next time you buy something new - did you really need it? Why, exactly, did you buy it? Where did you hear from it? What made you actually consider buying it, rather than just blowing it off?

I will leave you with a [true] anecdote;

A father of one daughter continues to get coupons from Target about baby products. His child is 17, and his wife is gone, so why is he getting these coupons? He calls and complains to Target, exclaiming that his daughter isn't pregnant, and he doesn't like getting these coupons that encourage that type of behavior. His daughter agrees, and says she doesn't even want to think about having a kid, and how terrible that would be at her age. Three months later, she her belly expands, and it's obvious she is pregnant. She literally didn't have a clue, but Target did. How did Target know?

Target tracked her buying habits covertly. They realized trends in what she was buying (specific foods, comfort items) and matched it with other pregnant women. The coupon was sent out automatically via an algorithm. Target knew she was pregnant - before she did. If you think this is incredible, I hope you can comprehend the possibilities beyond this. No matter how much you believe you aren't under the influence of advertising - you most certainly are.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Should I go to Graduate School?

The question undoubtedly hits many undergrads after (or before) they receive their bachelor's degree. It's one of those really tough questions that should be answered with clarity and understanding, which usually takes time - something we don't always have when applying (and spending lots of money) to graduate schools.

I'll give you my $0.02 on the subject, but remember, this is only me, and there are many other perspectives out there.

Should you go to graduate school: The easy answer is yes, given that the question is so broad. Graduate school is where you actually become a master in certain techniques, learn quite a lot in your field of interested, and get to use that wonderful brain of yours to create, expand, and explore in new territory.

However, the world is not an ideal place, and it is highly unlikely that 100% of your graduate school experience is going to be happy-go-lucky and steadily continuing without ever doubting your decision. Here are the points that I find most important in deciding whether to go to graduate school:

  1. First - can you get in? Is your GPA above a 3.0 or 3.2? If not, you may find it difficult to get into good programs. A strong GRE score, along with exceptional letters of recommendation can get you in, with an "lower" or "average" GPA. Really though - if you're considering graduate school, you probably can get in to many of them.
  2. Masters or PhD? Very few programs pay you to get a masters, but many pay you to get a PhD. The national average is around 24-26k a year, which isn't bad. If you are going to medical school, you need to pay for it yourself, unless you can get some really fantastic fellowships and scholarships - but that isn't my field.
  3. Are you passionate about anything academically? When I started graduate school (only 4 months in so far) I had the wrong idea that, really, I could only get into the "hard" sciences, and that "soft" sciences aren't worth anything. Hard sciences are chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, engineering, etc. While "soft" are sociology, psychology, ethnobotany, etc. If you are passionate about learning ANYTHING at all, there is a program out there for you. Search, search, search. Just recently I met someone who was doing research on how Maya interact with plants. He's written a few books and travelled all over the world. He retired a few years ago, but was taking students - I would have absolutely died to do this!
  4. Do you care what happens after graduate school? For me, I don't give a damn. I'm currently in a Plant Biology program, but once I fulfill my PhD, I have no plans in continuing on to post-doc work, or becoming a professor. I would love to teach, but the details are hazy. If you really want to go on after, and become a post-doc, or become a professor, you really need to be competitive - which means doing "out-of-the-box" research, and literally devoting your life to the work. You will need to spend a bare minimum of 40 hours a week in lab.
  5. Do you like to travel? Some programs differ in this respect, but in the hard (and some soft) sciences, you're travel will be limited, and your new school will become a pretty heavy shackle on your leg. For me, I plan on definitely taking months off in the future, but it's not always possible (or safe) to do so. It really depends on your professor.
  6. Can you deal with people telling you what to do? Some labs also differ in this regard. Many professors will tell you exactly what they want you to do. They need to keep their record of publications of high quality and good quantity, so they may pressure their students to push projects. This can be heavily taxing, and may not allow the graduate student "breathing room". I'm, again, lucky as I feel I can do whatever I want, in the realm of plant biology.
  7. The biggest of them all: do you really want to give up these years of your life? I'll be brutally honest; graduate school will become your life if you're going to succeed, and get your degree. This pertains more-so to PhD but a masters can be just as involved. Generally a PhD is 4-7 years long, which translates to years of 22-29 years of age. That's a lot of time, and at the prime of your life. If you have a professor that is lenient, you can take plenty of time off and explore the world if you'd like. Others aren't so lucky. Make sure you get into a program and in a group that is nurturing to you as an individual person, not just someone to do work.

P.S. Did I mention you'll probably get paid for learning? Pretty sweet deal.

For me, I don't really stress the future, nor the present. When it gets bad I go on vacations, and when its good I absorb it like a sponge. I don't really care what happens after school, so the pressure to do extraordinarily well isn't something on my mind all the time. I'm motivated, but I'm not stressed. If I really cared about getting a tenure track position and an amazing post-doc position somewhere, I wouldn't be writing this blog - I would be reading academic journals till I drop.

I hope this helps answer some questions out there.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Some Gaw Damn Absinthe

I watched a documentary on Absinthe and decided I better pick up the trade.

What really interested me about Absinthe is that it is completely made of herbs and spices. Setting it apart from any other liquor I know. The taste is licorice (anise) and hints of lemon and mint. It leaves a layer of thick flavor on the tongue even after sending it down the throat. It's quite strong (>140 proof) but when one drink's absinthe it is usually necessary to dilute it with water in equal parts - that is for 1 shot of absinthe, it should be mixed with 1 shot's worth of water! If made correctly, with intense flavor, the green liquid will turn from crystal clear to a cloudy solution, indicating the water mixing with the oils from the herbs.

The interesting stuff:
1. Properly made absinthe is not a hallucinogen (from Thuljone) in any drinkable quantities.
2. No it isn't illegal in the United States.
3. Poorly made (or purposefully made) absinthe is a hallucinogen and toxic, depending on potency.
4. The psychoactive is found in wormwood, and is called Thuljone.
5. Thuljone has an EXTREMELY sharp toxicity curve. In a recent study, mice were given 30mg/kg of thuljone and had 0% mortality rate, while doubling the dose to 60mg/kg killed 100% of the rats.
6. Distilled absinthe would require around nearly 100 liters of alcohol to be ingested to reach toxic levels of Thuljone (Hahaha... 100 liters.)

Absinthe was banned in France under false-pretenses. It wine industry was well established in the country, and after the emergence of Absinthe, vine-yard owners lost large amounts of business. Absinthe became one of the most popular drinks, and they would actually have an hour of the day where people would meet and talk over a drink or two of absinthe. It wasn't until quantities became tight that the emergence of the psychoactive absinthe came into history.

It was because of high demand and low quantity of the "Green Fairy" that illicit manufacture would come to engulf the business. The illegal factories producing the absinthe did it at any cost - including bypassing distillation as well as using methanol instead of ethanol (makes you go blind, kills you, is used in anti-freeze). As would be assumed, people started to "hallucinate" and mortality spiked in conjunction with the drink. The vineyard owners made their case: Absinthe must be banned - and so it was. The rest, well, is history.

There are very little credible accounts that Absinthe or Wormwood are actually hallucinogenic. Thuljone does have effects on the brain, but the biggest is in causing convulsions - not something most people would seek. Yet there are many fantastical writings by poets and artists that describe absinthe as much more than just an alcoholic drink - describing the effects as "wonderous visions" or "...the world becomes quite different".

At any rate, I do not plan on testing the undistilled drink, however I would like to see if larger quantities have a noticeable effect on the mind, beyond that of alcohol. I am prone to believe it so - as this numerous combination of aromatic herbs into an single glass definitely seems to lighten the senses just by the smell.

In the meantime, here is the video of how I concentrated the absinthe (it tastes quite nice). P.S. It is my secret recipe now.

So. . . I'm not much for conspiracies - 9/11

I really don't get into conspiracy theories much. It gives the 'bad guys' too much credit, but to humor myself I sometimes watch this video that makes my stomach drop, and my mind weak. This X-Files video was aired March 4th, 2001. Five months before the biggest terrorist attack in our history.

The link between the X-Files plot and the 9-11 conspiracy is pretty weak (sarcasm), here you go:


Short post. Nothing more. Have fun.

A Journey from Negativity to Positivity.

This is my second time attempting to completely reverse myself from pits of negativity to the beautiful positivity, and it worked..

Generally when I start feeling negative (whoa... humans are a shitty species) I just accept it as being some kind of absolute knowledge - that what I'm seeing is the truth, and happiness is just a veil I get to choose to put on. Last night I watched "Seven Psycopaths" (weird / funny movie), but there is a very epic scene in the end about self-immolation by a monk. I've never cried in theatres before, but I did here. It's so beyond human thinking that a monk can take his own life by the most intense pain possible. You can imagine, I hope, the impact this is intended to have, and did have. I felt extremely out of my head for about an hour after the movie. I looked at the bags of clothes I had just bought and felt sick, like I was fueling corporate america, being a consumer myself. I wish I had bought my clothes from a second hand store. Although this may be true, our perceptions are our choice.

Driving through my neighborhood, I could overlook the expanse that was once only desert - now completely covered in mercury lights, the yellow glow of human dominance. Paved streets over unique plants and ecosystems. Buildings blocking the views of the naturally formed hills and mountains. Trees watered at the expense of... it goes on and on.

I didn't want to see this anymore. I understood it well enough, and understanding is all that is needed. Negativity is useful to a new perception, or new understanding - learning something is negative is part of life. It shapes our morals, our ethics, and our paradigms, but constantly living in negativity weakens the body and mind. Ambition slows and one can become stagnant with fear and apathy. I needed to control this.

I got home and I tried to imagine goodness. I tried to imagine what way of life would make me happy - I tried to imagine a way of life that is absolutely good. Nothing was able to make me happy. Being a community living, in a tree-hut seems so great when I'm happy. I love the image of living under large trees, covered by green, in harmony with nature, not defensive against it.

But this negativity prevailed. I stayed negative even here, and what usually lightened my mood didn't - and I realized this negativity isn't real. It's simply a veil covering everything. This wasn't some new found knowledge, or some grand omnipotence, it was an overload of negative perception and I had control.

I sat in bed and I started breathing. I first separate myself from all emotion. I blank the mind, as meditation is usually aimed to do. Then I begin positivity. I begin to search for any feeling that would make me happy, that makes me smile. I imagined light in my chest, at the bottom of my lungs begin to radiate out. Every breath I took would increase the warmth. Every inhale would be a rush of goodness, of smiles. Soon I was grinning from ear to ear, and holding back laughter from escaping my mouth. Imagine seeing a man meditating and start laughing uncontrollably - here I was. Giggling, in a state of mind so great. Life became radiant - the previous hour seemed like years ago, and all I had to do to stay here was stay here. It can be, often, that after positivity is reached, the mind says "But wait, you could still feel negative, remember?" and a relapse happens. Simply ignore, and move forward.

If I can do it from the depths of pure negativity, anyone can.

If you're feeling bad, you need to be able to realize you can feel good. You have the choice. I promise.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Current and Future State of Agriculture

Big Agro versus Small Polyfarms

The food paradigm of the united states (and generally the 1st world countries) is this;
Produce as much food at as little a cost as possible.

"What could be wrong with that?" said one farmer in Food Inc (If you haven't seen Food Inc, just watch it - it covers the paradigms).

The problems are numerous, and for one main reason; reductive logic. If you'd like to see the problems, you can look at the bottom of my previous post:

**Note: I am not whipping these "problems" out of my ass, these are done by hard scientific studies across the globe with very good technique and control (its sound science!), so please, trust me, but you can do your own research. If you'd like sources I'd be glad to give them to you!

So - you have to ask yourself - is big Agro (mass energy, water, fertilizer, pesticide & herbicide consumption) really the only option we have? Yes. I mean.. NO! Absolutely not.

When the big white man with his fire water (always cracks me up) came and settled on this great nation, there was a pervasive farming technique seen by the Natives here. They called it the "The Three Sisters" which represented Corn, Beans, and Squash (or pumpkins - the weirdos).

This trifecta of flavor was actually incredibly well structured for a generally unscientific culture. The Native Americans had a way of perfecting things, food paradigms included! These are some general principles of the Three Sisters, but they can be applied to many combinations of plants:

  • The corn allowed the vines to grow vertical, allowing more sun to the leaves.
  • The beans gave nitrogen to the soil (one of the biggest problems in agriculture now is low nitrogen levels)
  • The squash's large leaves gave ground cover, resulting in minimal evaporation of water from the soil.

The Three Sisters fit in with the new concept (or new label) of Permaculture; that is, taking natural systems of the world and using them for agricultural purposes. This principle of using multiple plants in synergistic ways is called Polyculture, and is one of the 12 principles of Permaculture. As per Wikipedia the 12 different principles are:

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Some principles are probably more useful than others, but when it comes down to it; use as little as possible, learn as much from the natural biosystems as possible, and use many plants - avoid monocultures.

The benefits are incredible:
Not only does the yield increase (due to more plant per acre) but also the diet is much better. In polyculture, a complete diet can be easily done in one acre, while triple the acreage is needed for monoculture (if you want the same yields of each plant).

Less fertilizers (if any) due to the fact that legumes (beans in the Three Sisters example) replenish nitrogen into the soil, while the corn and squash take it up.

Less water use (if any) due to the fact of green ground cover, shading the bare ground from the sun, resulting in less evaporation. Techniques in permaculture also call for use of extensive rainwater - there are many ways of doing this - rain barrels and fog-nets to name the most common. Other techniques take advantage of drip-irrigation, which places tubes (organic or not) below the grounds surface with small holes, supplying a continuous, yet low volume of water directly to the plants roots.

No pesticides, herbicides or fungicides needed! Plants produce their own defense mechanisms, and some plants are more hardy against biotic stress than others. A study done in China showed that planting multiple species of rice (instead of one) produced yield increases up to 80%. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that multiple species are less prone to being wiped out by the same disease or bug. "The strongest survive!" But how can the strongest species compete if you only plant one? Not only that, but some plants ward off small animals and insects due to their aromatic compounds they let off. Raccoons, deer, and other animals like rabbits can easily be tricked to stay out of farms or gardens by planting specific types of aromatic plants.

There are plenty of farmers out there that can produce enough food for an entire season in an acre or less of land using permaculture techniques. In 1/4th acreage of farmed land enough food can be made to feed a small family. If you add in vertical space of housing and other structures, even more. The 1/4th land would occupy the family nearly full time, and includes chickens.

One full acre would be able to easily support a family at a half time job, since the more sparse, the more efficient one can be in man hours, however, per land area, you can always increase efficiency!

Another problem is the plants we have chosen to monocrop. From MayanInstitute.org:
"In the tropics the Mayan Bread Nut produces a nut that is on par nutritionally to corn, It has seven times or so the production per acre. Only needs to be planted once. The nuts will store for five years as a food if just hung up in sacks in the rafters of houses. A family can collect a years’ worth in about 8 hours of work and it still can be used as an over story crop in a food forest. "

So can we feed the growing population of the world with permaculture? Yes, but there would be needed a dramatic shift in our food paradigm;
1. More people would need to produce for themselves. A small permaculture plot (your back yard) can easily be maintained over a small portion of a weekends work. If you have surplus, either give away or learn to can and store.

2. Farmer's wages would need to increase. Right now, most of the people who pick the produce from American farms are immigrants working under minimum wage. Side note: this is legal by a very nasty act where Big Agro recruiters literally go to Mexico, say "Hey we'll give you a job in A-M-E-R-I-C-A, you just need to sign this paper." Little do the people know they must live in the farm's own project housing, must pay the designated rent, and cannot leave until their contract is up! Unfortunately, as well, the only food available to the recruits is usually Fast-food chains nearby, since the farms are very far from good supermarkets.

3. Less waste would needed to be produced. It has been hypothesized (not sure if proven) that there is enough food in the United States alone to feed the entire world, however, there is not enough money to buy it as well as an incredibly high amount of waste in restaurants, packaging, and shipping of food.

4. Food would become more expensive. Don't like it? Go to #1.

And there you have it. I will update this when I see fit. Please feel free to email or comment.