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Archive for the ‘local food’ Category

Michael Pollan (who if you don’t know him you must check out) wrote this great letter titled Farmer in Chief to the New York Times in October to whomever the president-elect would be.

I believe that our agriculture deserves more attention than it is receiving.  The way we shape our agricultural sector is a matter of national security, as Pollan writes.  In fact, many of our global economic, social, and political problems all relate to the food industry.  Supporting local organic farming is not only preferable, it is essential if we want to end the global food crisis, end our dependence on oil, protect the environment, protect workers worldwide, create jobs, help our healthcare systems, and create a more equal and just world.  Yeh, it’s quite a mouthful for just one sector of our societies, but food is a necessity.  We depend on nothing more than food.  So why has it become a mere commodity, a resource, that is grown in non-biodiversified, land-intensive agriculture only to let many of these grains and foods go to waste?

This obviously is linked to a history of colonialism and the conquering of people’s lands and resources to modern economic practices and institutions.  The US agriculture system has been built off of the chemical agents of WWII as Pollan points out, and with the addition of deregulation, subsidies, and the green “revolution” large export, monoculture agriculture has been pushed beyond its threshhold.

This is the time to deal with these problems.  I love Pollan’s idea of the president setting the example for the American public: having dinner as a family cooked from only local in season foods, gardening and growing food on the White House lawn, posting recipes on the White House website.  It does involve changing our lifestyles and the ways we view food and view ourselves.  But this is the reality that we must face.  Our conusmer, production-driven society is unsustainable, not only environmentally, but socially and economically.  We need Change!  I have hope that Obama will be more open to truly dealing with these issues.

(Secretary of Agriculture: Michael Pollan!)

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I found these sweet charts searching for images on the internet.  Professor Phil Howard at Michigan State University has made the links between big multi-national corporate giants to organic brands.  Some of these links I knew about, but some companies that I thought were small and privately owned are actually supporting corporations like Hershey (sorry Dagoba).  Although the green movement is growing for organic food, it isn’t always the vision of the small farm of a local family that is growing that organic produce or products that you consume in the store.

The real focus must be on supporting local food.  This is the greatest way we can make our voice heard in making food just.  By supporting local small farms, the idea of industrial food production is challenged.  Eating in season, going to the farmer’s market, making foods from scratch, taking the time to can and process fruits and vegetables when they are in season, etc are all things that not only will help the local community, but people around the globe.  This ends our dependence on foods from other countries where we are, under trade agreements (WTO, NAFTA) and loans (World Bank, Structural Adjustment Programs), making people grow monocultures for export.  This is not a sustainable system.  As Vandana Shiva said, this is “forced trade” not “free trade.”  This export system is depleting local resources for one crop that cannot sustain a healthy diet.  This is a monoculture of both the mind and in actuality as Dr. Shiva so well states.

By supporting organic, you are also standing against GMOs.  Corporations like Cargill and Monsanto have, under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organization, patented life by genetically modifying seeds.  This is biopiracy, forcing farmers to buy and pay fines to these corporations for altering a crop that has had both historical and spiritual importance to people of a region.

We would be better off creating trade policies that help small farmers gain land rights to have the ability to grow their own food for their own community.  And for those commodities that we do trade at further distances must be fair trade.  This would end the food wasted with the current system that is in a downward spiral to destroy the land and earth, and the people on it.

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