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FunnyJohn

"Attention Whole Foods Shoppers"

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Here's some food for thought:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/26/attention_whole_foods_shoppers

"In Europe and the United States, a new line of thinking has emerged in elite circles that opposes bringing improved seeds and fertilizers to traditional farmers and opposes linking those farmers more closely to international markets. Influential food writers, advocates, and celebrity restaurant owners are repeating the mantra that "sustainable food" in the future must be organic, local, and slow. But guess what: Rural Africa already has such a system, and it doesn't work. Few smallholder farmers in Africa use any synthetic chemicals, so their food is de facto organic. High transportation costs force them to purchase and sell almost all of their food locally. And food preparation is painfully slow. The result is nothing to celebrate: average income levels of only $1 a day and a one-in-three chance of being malnourished.

If we are going to get serious about solving global hunger, we need to de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. And that means learning to appreciate the modern, science-intensive, and highly capitalized agricultural system we've developed in the West. Without it, our food would be more expensive and less safe. In other words, a lot like the hunger-plagued rest of the world."

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Here's some food for thought:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/26/attention_whole_foods_shoppers

"In Europe and the United States, a new line of thinking has emerged in elite circles that opposes bringing improved seeds and fertilizers to traditional farmers and opposes linking those farmers more closely to international markets. Influential food writers, advocates, and celebrity restaurant owners are repeating the mantra that "sustainable food" in the future must be organic, local, and slow. But guess what: Rural Africa already has such a system, and it doesn't work. Few smallholder farmers in Africa use any synthetic chemicals, so their food is de facto organic. High transportation costs force them to purchase and sell almost all of their food locally. And food preparation is painfully slow. The result is nothing to celebrate: average income levels of only $1 a day and a one-in-three chance of being malnourished.

If we are going to get serious about solving global hunger, we need to de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. And that means learning to appreciate the modern, science-intensive, and highly capitalized agricultural system we've developed in the West. Without it, our food would be more expensive and less safe. In other words, a lot like the hunger-plagued rest of the world."

This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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Couldn't have anything to do with lack of infrastructure, a history of opression and corruption, lack of education, HIV/AIDS etc. Nope its that fucking organic shit that is all to blame. Why, just think of that poor people's paradise that is rural India where the average income is, let's see, about $10 per person a year and they are the heart and soul of the green revolution. Viva la ravolition! Fuck Organics! Sysco will be at my door tomorrow!

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Robert Paarlberg speaks a lot about poverty-stricken Africa in his book Starved for Science. Is anyone saying that destitute Africans should be denied modern technology to help them live?

If so, raise your hands ...

Waiting ...

Still waiting ...

Didn't think so.

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What I am saying is that there is technology that can be very beneficial and help imporve the lot of many. But tying oneself to expensive genetically modified seed that can only be bought from Western companies has not ended poverty in India where is is a wide spread practice. The problems of Africa are real but to blame them in nay way on organic farming is just not a conclusion supported by the facts.

What is needed is civil society: laws enforced fairly, property rights defined, infrastructure and education, health care and public health measures, good governance. Technology can be a large, no must be a large part of that. But franken foods have made claims that do not hold up. Roundup ready soy genes HAVE transited from one species to the next. Genetic Modification has generally resulted in larger output but lower producer incomes. Factory farming degrades the land and its fertility requiring more use of expensive inputs. These are not sustainable practices.

I am in fact, not a locovore nor am I a fanatic supporter of organics. I don't see either as a sole long term way to solve hunger in the US or elsewhere in fact. I support them as an important part of my restaurant. But I also fear the industrialization of farming as its results are simply not what the big guys say they are going to be. The number one source of Chesapeake pollution is lawn care products and number two is agricultural waste runoff, mostly from poultry and pig farms run for the biggies.

I would rather see you eat conventional bagged salad than Earthbound Farms and I feel that Cal Organics is not a good steward of the land in general. Locovorism is fine for those of us lucky to have enough disposable income and the luxury to spend more for something that tastes better. But I support conventional farming when done in a responsible way. My dairy & egg supplier is not a warm and fuzzy small farm with Ma and Pa Kettle, or even Joel Salatin out back looking at the chickens scratch. But it is a competitively priced conventional farm that has a minimal impact on the environment compared to other farms of its size. If we make all farming more responsible, and sustainable for the long term future, we all win. But extracting short term gains for the enrichment of the few is not my idea of what the world needs.

If we temper science with the precautionary principle, we can have both technology and growth that is sustainable.

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Is anyone saying that destitute Africans should be denied modern technology to help them live?

If so, raise your hands ...

It isn't that simple. Look up The Logic of Failure (by Dietrich Dorner) on Amazon.com, and go to page 11, "The Lamentable Fate of Tanaland."

An excerpt [any typos are mine]:

"Catastrophe was inevitable because a linear increase in the food supply was accompanied by an exponential increase in the population...thanks to artificial fertilizers and the deeper plowing made possible by motorization, the food supply clearly exceeded the demand..."

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Today, Kenya has a major income from growing produce and flowers for Europe. Their income and thus their ability to feed the local population are tied to European conditions. When the economy soured in Europe, the Kenyan diet suffered as they are dependent on food imports to feed their populations. Starvation in Sudan is due to war and political reasons. We need to look at how to raise incomes effectively in a way that allows for broadly based success in society. This should be a goal. Societies with great disparities in income are subject to civil unrest and upheaval that affect rich and poor alike.

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In an Anthropology of Food class a few years back, we spent some time discussing the issues surrounding the well-documented fact that there is more than enough food to feed every one on the planet. Food production in one area can override a drought or other situation somewhere else that has lessened or temporarily eliminated food production. The lack of food in a given area is not due to an absence of available food, but is most frequently tied to a lack of roads (infrastructure mentioned above) or control by small scale tyrants/dictators/warlords etc. (corruption also mentioned above). What better way to get people to do what you want then to blockade roads and cut off food supplies? So rather than trying to produce more food, the real solution lies in working on the basic problems in the system that keep available food from reaching people who need it. As an example, look at what happened in Haiti recently. Much of the donated food couldn't get where it needed to go because of infrastructure problems, and other food and ration cards were stolen by corrupt individuals and groups who then re-sold them to people for money and/or various things I'd really rather not think about too much. There was a good article in the NYT earlier this week about it.

No matter how well meaning you are, putting money and effort into making more food doesn't necessarily feed people. Building roads and eliminating corruption feeds people. Unfortunately, these things are much more difficult to achieve.

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I would rather see you eat conventional bagged salad than Earthbound Farms and I feel that Cal Organics is not a good steward of the land in general.

Forgive my ignorance, please explain.

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Earthbound uses techniques that are harder on the land in their raised bed production. THier water usarge is very high. They have more impact ont heenvironment in all but one area: usage of artificial chemical. But their overall input usaeg is higher than that of a conventional grower and their ecological degradation is higher. So it is a losing proposition to support them. That are big ag with a pretty label and a meaningless organic stamp on their stuff

Organic is meaningless. I would rather have the non spray goodness of Spring Valley hydro lettuces than the industrial crap that is Earthbound. Earthbound costs me $13.15 a pound for 3 pounds, Spring Valley is $6 a pound, Urban Gourmet {Christa's place at Dupont, I am only guessing at her name} is $5 a pound. But their pounds last loger and actually make more salads than the EB so it is a closer cost issue. But I pay more than I would for something I can call organic. I pay more for somethig I can call delicious. My conventional produce supplier sells 1000 boxes every few days of Earthbound organics. There are 6 ore 7 other folk who can also sell it to you.

I don't but Horizon Organic Dairy or Cal Organics for the same reasons. Industrail giants taking advantage of the Whole Foods pioneered industrial organic world. Eating consciously takes more than just going to WFM and buying organic.

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Urban Gourmet {Christa's place at Dupont, I am only guessing at her name} is $5 a pound.

Cinda's the farmer at Gardener's Gourmet.

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