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Old 08-27-2009, 04:38 AM
 
61 posts, read 213,972 times
Reputation: 56

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Today I read an article in TIME magazine <---LINK! regarding the way our food is produced. It was very well written as most articles found in TIME are and really hit home with me.

The article describes the "industrial" method of producing our nations food supply. Highlighting the immense usage of fossil fuels, pesticides, chemically inhanced corn usage etc. It also does a nice job of illustrating the alternative of "sustainable" food production.

The part that really stood out to me is the opportunity for growth in the sustainable food production available here in Kansas. Below is an excerpt from the article focusing on the opportunity for redirection in the way we grow our food, more specifically our meat.

"So what will it take for sustainable food production to spread? It's clear that scaling up must begin with a sort of scaling down — a distributed system of many local or regional food producers as opposed to just a few massive ones. Since 1935, consolidation and industrialization have seen the number of U.S. farms decline from 6.8 million to fewer than 2 million — with the average farmer now feeding 129 Americans, compared with 19 people in 1940.

It's that very efficiency that's led to the problems and is in turn spurring a backlash, reflected not just in the growth of farmers' markets or the growing involvement of big corporations in organics but also in the local-food movement, in which restaurants and large catering services buy from suppliers in their areas, thereby improving freshness, supporting small-scale agriculture and reducing the so-called food miles between field and plate. That in turn slashes transportation costs and reduces the industry's carbon footprint.

A transition to more sustainable, smaller-scale production methods could even be possible without a loss in overall yield, as one survey from the University of Michigan suggested, but it would require far more farmworkers than we have today. With unemployment approaching double digits — and things especially grim in impoverished rural areas that have seen populations collapse over the past several decades — that's hardly a bad thing. Work in a CAFO is monotonous and soul-killing, while too many ordinary farmers struggle to make ends meet even as the rest of us pay less for food. Farmers aren't the enemy — and they deserve real help. We've transformed the essential human profession — growing food — into an industry like any other. "We're hurting for job creation, and industrial food has pushed people off the farm," says Hahn Niman. "We need to make farming real employment, because if you do it right, it's enjoyable work."


If anyone has any thoughts, I think this is a topic worthy of discussion.
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:13 AM
 
1,662 posts, read 4,170,259 times
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Good article! Thanks for posting it!

I do think a shift is definitely in order. I would LOVE to see that! I already make organic choices when I can, especially with meat, eggs, and dairy. (I worry less about produce and grains, but I do prefer to buy as close to locally as I can with those.)

I have seen for myself the girls at my kids' schools who are developing earlier and earlier. Girls in 3rd grade who need bras, girls in 4th and 5th grade starting their periods. Something's up! Extra hormones in our protein supply seems as likely a culprit as any, and are easy to eliminate.

But it's going to take more than consumer demand.

Quote:
Over the past decade, the Federal Government has poured more than $50 billion into the corn industry
The shift in Washington dollars is not going to come without some kicking and screaming.

This also concerns me a bit:

Quote:
Farmers aren't the enemy — and they deserve real help. We've transformed the essential human profession — growing food — into an industry like any other. "We're hurting for job creation, and industrial food has pushed people off the farm," says Hahn Niman. "We need to make farming real employment, because if you do it right, it's enjoyable work."
The first bolded part insinuates that without government subsidies, a sustainable farming industry can't make it on it's own. It's still as if gov. money is just expected.

I think the goal should be to have the farming industry "sustainable" at all levels. It shouldn't be planned out to rely on subsidies.

Now maybe that's not what he meant. But the last part really made me wonder. I'm sorry - but since when is it my (or the government's) place to make your job enjoyable???

Anyway, I hope this generates some more discussion.
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Old 08-27-2009, 02:04 PM
 
61 posts, read 213,972 times
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Samantha,

I'm glad you liked the article, and you make a great point of the expectation of government money. As a fiscal conservative myself I agree with your sentiments. However, what I took from that part of the article was that the government money is being misused and is actually destroying the small town farm. This isn't news to any farmer from the last 50 or so years as they have seen land swallowed up by large corperations, and mega farms.

I say if the government is going to be giving out these subsidies and/or tax breaks they need to give them to folks who are doing things the right way. Not to the large corn mega farms or the beef conglomos.

Currently, to even be certified as an "organic" farm you have to jump through all kinds of hoops, and it is very difficult. Sadly, this type of activity should be incouraged.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,527 posts, read 7,879,865 times
Reputation: 7488
Cheap food. Is it good or bad?
I was born in rural Kansas and grew up on a farm in the area. The farm my maternal Grandfather homesteaded in the 1880's is still in the family. I did not want to farm for a living when I graduated from high school in 1964 and none of the other cousins in the family did so the farm has been rented for the past 40 years. The farmer that farms our land farms over 4,000 acres including ours. He probably has close to $800,000.00 invested in equipment. He has one son helping him. My Dad and I worked our tails off to farm 1920 acres in 1960.

My dad's farm just over the line in Colorado was almost as good as the land in Kansas and in the 1950's and 1960's if we didn't get hailed out or some other act of nature Dad's yields were always among the highest in the area. Back then if everything went perfectly it was possible to have a 40 to 45 bushel yield per acre. This DID NOT happen every year and was the exception.

Wheat farming techniques have changed since drastically since the 1950's. Research Universities like the University of Nebraska and Kansas State and KU have given us new strains of wheat that are drought and disease resistant. No till has resulted in less soil compaction, better moisture retention in the soil and MUCH higher yields with lower costs. Herbicides and insecticides have resulted in higher yields. Our farmer had an average yield of 99.5 ( again an exceptional year) bushels per acre on the family farm this summer. That would have been unheard of in 1950. ONE thing that has not changed that much is THE PRICE OF WHEAT. During WW2 my Dad and Uncles got over $4.00 a bushel for wheat. During the 50's and 60's it was usually $2.00 to $3.00. Currently is is just over $5.00.

You can have affordable food and enough of it with factory farm methods or you can pay three or four times the current price and have so called "sustainable" food. With a population of 300 million it will take drastic changes to have organic and cheap foods. Going organic totally would totally eliminate URBAN LAWNS.

I am not a big fan of "factory" farms but I don't see an alternative that can do as good a job currently.

GL2
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Old 09-06-2009, 03:32 PM
 
814 posts, read 1,875,128 times
Reputation: 399
I don't really see a better way of doing it, either, but I would like to see subsidies end.

Here's an interesting website where you can see who is getting what in your zipcode. You might be amazed:
EWG || Farm Subsidy Database


I'll pick a little town close to me.
EWG || Farm Subsidy Database
Keep in mind, this is a community of maybe 1000 people...yet there are 127 people drawing farm subsidies in that zip code.

Those guys are pikers compared to the pros, however:
EWG || Farm Subsidy Database

Last edited by cp1969; 09-06-2009 at 03:44 PM..
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