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The Future of Food


Waitman
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What, nothing on the very interesting pullout section in the post on The Future of Food? Still working through it, but my first comment is that I wish Carman had been a little less survey-sh and a little more judgmental in his lead piece (that's the link, there are many other stories if you go to the Food Section Home Page). Given his ("down in the garage with my") bullshit detector, wit and full-time employment dealing with the subject, something a little less even-handed might have been both informative and fun.

And, coincidentally I've had some very (very!) one degree of separation contact with HRH's crew and the excerpt of his speech concerning farm subsidies -- if not groundbreaking -- certainly makes it harder to make fun of his wife.

Other thoughts?

PS -- Yonan catches a lot of shit here (some of its been from me) but I assume that he deserves a good deal of credit for a good conference and a thought-provoking Wednesday morning.

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Other thoughts?

From the piece:

Prince Charles wants business to account for the true costs of food production, factoring in not just federal subsidies but also the environmental costs of Big Ag’s unsustainable practices.

Not that I necessarily equate the two gentlemen, but I heard Andy Shallal say that 'if you order a hamburger in a restaurant, and you pay less than $6 for that hamburger, then someone else is paying for it.' This paraphrase is taken somewhat out of context here since his speech wasn't directly targeted at Big Ag, but it's at least tangentially related.

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Other thoughts?

Thanks for caring, Waitman!

Lack of responses here are for a variety of reasons, of course, but two that come to mind:

1) I am one of the guilty occasional readers of the Post--after years of being a loyal subscriber. I missed this issue since I even stopped picking up the Wednesday edition on a regular basis like I used to.

2) Many years ago, egullet.org was the place you could count on when it came to lively onboard discussions of a wide range of wide-ranging topics, including thoughtful analysis and extended conversions among an admittedly larger group of members. I was happy to find lots of the kind souls and sharp, witty commentators from that place--among others--in this smaller, more local community. However, for some reason, the only genre that inspires members to write long, detailed posts is the account of a multi-coursed meal at a restaurant. Passage of time should also be taken into account, since this sort of thing is no longer novel and "text" is not just a noun anymore.

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Thanks for caring, Waitman!

Lack of responses here are for a variety of reasons, of course, but two that come to mind:

1) I am one of the guilty occasional readers of the Post--after years of being a loyal subscriber. I missed this issue since I even stopped picking up the Wednesday edition on a regular basis like I used to.

We cancelled our subscription several weeks ago. The way the web site is designed, I know I miss plenty of what is there that I might be interested in. Mostly, I read it through links I find elsewhere now.

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It's not difficult to find coffee shops or small eateries that provide copies of the WaPo either (I used to go to Sidamo just cuz I knew they carried the Philly Inq). I did find the piece engaging, especially how many of the participants felt climate change was the gorilla in the closet. I agree but when speaking of climate change the dangers of melting ice caps tend to outweigh the nuisance of more bugs (so maybe food concerned whistle blowers should pick their battles accordingly).

I do still find Schlosser's angle on the real human toll of agro-business compelling. Makes me think of Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed.

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I was not aware of the degree to which current intellectual property laws and trade agreements hinder the development of seed and favor industrial farming. Thanks for calling attention to these articles.

Excerpts from the Future of Food conference

Vandana Shiva, director of Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers in India:

“In 1984 we had the Bhopal disaster, we had extremism in India in Punjab …. and I was forced to ask myself the question: ‘Why is agriculture like war?’ I found out it is like war--industrial farming is like war because it came from war. I was thrown into discussions around patenting, genetic engineering, way back in 1987, and the attempt of industry to create an international architecture which became the World Trade Organization with two treaties that affect farming directly and are a big block to the transition we are collectively trying to make. The first is the intellectual property treaty that allows corporations to own seed and life on earth as if it’s their creation. The second is the agriculture agreement which takes $400 billion of subsidies in the rich OECD countries, creates an unlevel playing field for industrial farms and just puts small, honest, hard-working farmers at a disadvantage worldwide to such an extent that the combination of monopoly on seed and inputs and these subsidies are squeezing farmers out. I started to save seeds, promote ecological agriculture. We’ve set up 55 community seed banks with the basic recognition that seed is not an invention, therefore not property of any company. It’s the common property and the commons of all people and we save seed as a commons. We’ve trained 500,000 farmers [in India] in ecological farming techniques. We’re helping the government of Bhutan becoming: to become a 100-percent organic nation.”

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We still subscribe to the Post and I read the Food feature in the Food section Wednesday morning while sipping sustainably produced coffee in my bathrobe dressing gown. I think the main reason why people here have not commented on it more is because they've heard it all before. Anyone here who has read Omnivore's Dilemma or similar treatments of the American food and agriculture scene, which many of us have, has long since processed the arguments and analysis (pro or contra) presented in the Local Family Newspaper two days ago. And then Waitman goes and ruins all our sophomoric fun in another thread by climbing on a soapbox and making rational, reasoned arguments. Sheesh!

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PS -- Yonan catches a lot of shit here (some of its been from me) but I assume that he deserves a good deal of credit for a good conference and a thought-provoking Wednesday morning.

I was there. You can continue to give him shit this was an event of the editorial board and other than a Q&A with Dan Barber and Sam Kass, Yonan wasn't really involved. Most people came to hear HRH speak and then left. So most of the day it was pretty empty. In fairness, his speech was the best part of the day. With the exceptionof a pretty heated debate between Jerry Garcia's widow and the Secretary of Agriculture it was overall a benign event. But, lunch from the Seedling Project was very tastey.

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