Wednesday, January 19, 2011
THE FOOD FIGHT
Where does most of your food come from -- local or industrial sources? Do you think it matters little or that it's one of the most important choices you make for your health and has enormous political ramifications?
US farmers produce about $100 billion worth of crops and about $100 billion worth of livestock each year. That's pretty much all industrial farming. Could much of our country really revert back to small scale, diverse, ecological farming? What about globally, is small a viable or even sensible alternative?
Two articles to consider:
America's Good Food Fight, Nicolette Hahn Niman (from the LA Times)
Commodity foods — from large-scale, industrialized agricultural production — seem cheap because they're produced without bearing their true costs, which are passed on in the form of pollution, virulent infectious diseases and animal suffering.
"If the full cost of externalized environmental and health costs were taken into account, those same products would be far more expensive," the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded in a 2008 report issued with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Agribusiness also benefits from billions of dollars of annual federal farm subsidies, along with other tax breaks and incentives from state and local governments, while a negligible portion of these public moneys aid non-industrial farming.
World Hunger Best Cured by Small Scale Agriculture... World Watch Institute, Nidhi Prakash (from CommonDreams.org
"If we shift just some of our attention away from production to consumption issues and reducing food waste, we might actually get quite a big bang for our buck, because that ground has been neglected," said Brian Halweil, co-director of the project.
"The majority of incentives that governments give to farmers are still tied to the production mindset. The farmers are rewarded for sheer production quantity, with very little guidance for the quality they produce and the impact of their farming practices on the environment and on human health and nutrition ... It is necessary to change these incentives," he said.