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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Factory Food

by Dale

As I write this article, I am crunching down a luscious cucumber that I picked this morning. I love gardening, producing my own chicken and eggs, and going to the farmers market. I like making bread and chicken noodle soup from scratch. I like to get my food locally and I like knowing how it is produced. I like knowing the farmers I get my food from. Before Myron Martin was forced to quit selling raw milk, I liked to get to my milk from him. I love my job working for the University of Maryland to help farmers and teach students about agriculture. And every time I go to the grocery store and see the  incredible variety of meats and produce available at such low prices to 300,000,000 people in the United States and think about feeding 7,000,000,000 people around the world, I appreciate our factory food system. To help keep things in perspective, please watch the following video.

I realize this is propaganda from BASFAgro chemical company, but until we convince more people to grow their own food and improve our local food systems and production methods, we need to appreciate our ability to feed to so many with such scarce resources.



Rachel said...

The fact of the matter is that the factory food system is not sustainable. Something has to give and currently it's the environment and our health. Giant monocultures of corn and soy aren't going to save the world. Our food system isn't cheap. Healthcare costs, environmental costs and the taxes we pay to subsidize the commodity crops all have to be factored in.

Unknown said...

Dale, Hmmm. I have so many thoughts on that video, I'm not sure where to begin. Let me begin by saying, a lot a farmers work HARD, no matter what methods they use. I'm grateful we have such a wonderful culture of men and women in our country that have helped feed the world. And we cannot just "turn off" what we've created in terms of corporate farming. To do so would be devastating.

My concern however, is that without a "need", people will not be motivated to start producing some of their own food. I think part of the recent rush to start up victory gardens is because the economy and the consequences of GMO has most people a bit nervous about what might be ahead. In other words, "Will there actually be any food to obtain?". Heaven forbid that we should create such a "need", but could we not have a plan to move away from such mega farming? Dale, are they even teaching these young ag students that they CAN farm on a smaller scale and produce an even better quality product? Is there any serious classroom discussion on farming and selling locally, the long term consequences of GMOs, good organic practices,etc? Or has our rush to cheap food set them up for failure in all this?

Tthe fact that mega farmers can produce GMO food so cheap is actually a deterrent to raising your own! Years ago, having your own garden SAVED money. Now, because food is so cheap, you'd be fortunate to break even by the time you purchased seeds/plants, amendments, tools, etc. I may be over exaggerating that a bit, but it'd be an interesting thing to research. I don't think I'm too far off the mark on that.

The populations statistics - I'm not sure they're all that accurate. Because of our push toward zero population growth (or rather one point something offspring), I wonder if the estimate given on the video is correct. I've heard some pretty interesting things from other sources that our growth is about to come to a screeching halt (unless I misunderstood).

I'm REALLY thankful to those farmers who have begun to see the consequences of corporate farming, GMOs, pesticides, etc. and have started farming on a smaller scale. And I appreciate and want to support ministries that help people in the poorest of countries obtain clean water sources, learn to farm in their area, get the tools and supplies they need, etc. They are able to maintain their dignity while gaining the ability to feed themselves for more than one bag of grain. With waring tribes, boundary disputes, and other political mayhem, farming in some areas may be nearly impossible, but that should be the exception, not the norm.

Thanks for a good, friendly debate Dale. I'm sure I'm only seeing part of the picture, but iron sharpens iron and I think a discussion on such things, done in a gracious manner (as you have done), helps us think about things we often don't consider.

(Just a technical note. You might want to see if you can correct the margins on it because part of it was cut off and I couldn't see a lot of the numbers or all of the phrases. I only got part of the "message". )

Unknown said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this video. It is very well done and upbeat. It made it hard for me to really think about the things I've learned from movies such as Food Inc. and King Corn, and it made me want to just shout from the rooftops "thank you" to the farmers. So, like I said, I'm not sure how to feel about this yet.

Amy and Dale both mentioned that more people need to be growing their own food. It is interesting that a few years ago the friends that called me a "grandma" for gardening have now come asking me for advice on gardening because of the economic times. I think that if anything good comes from this crappy economy, is that more people have gardens.

The Chicken Keepers said...

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Amen, Dale.