Sunday, 26 July 2009

Beautiful,fragile planet.

Even whilst international agreements are being made to cut down on carbon emissions, and promote sustainable energy, the UK government is clinging on with white knuckled obstinacy to industrialized agriculture.In sixty years crop yields have risen, but this has been at great cost to the environment, to ecological systems, and to human health. Going hand in hand with the free market economy and the global trade in food, thousands of farmers across the world have been pushed off the land, including UK farmers. Dairy farmers and pig farmers in the UK are amongst those who have suffered from skewed prices.

The blog post provides a balanced perspective on the subject.

On the bright side:-
There's an international social movement happening -and the common denominator is food. People are becoming concerned about where their food is sourced, how it is grown and processed and over-packaged, and the amount of energy used in production and transport.Issues of animal welfare in farming are also an important part of the debate.A spin-off to this interest is that many rural and urban communities are searching for local sources for fruit, vegetables and meat, and many people are enthusiastically starting their own gardens and allotments. Even bee-keeping, and smallholdings with livestock are becoming a keen hobby or means of livlihood. Everything that is required in the production of food,-animals, seeds, plants,and land are regarded from the perspective of sustainability, and natural systems. and democracy. Some people see this movement for 'homegrown' as a passtime for what they disparagely refer to as the 'green brigade'. On the other hand Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London believes that "Gardening is poised to move from a leisure activity with aesthetic purposes to become a vital core function of food production. Garden Organic with its 40,000 members, is well positioned to enable a new culture of exchange between gardeners and encourage people across urban and rural communities, to get growing. Rather than digging for the victory of the nation as we did during World War2, I see our focus as digging for food democracy, with every person playing their part in the future food supply."
Parallel with this community involvement in sustainable horticulture and small scale agricultural projects, the media is pushing food up the political agenda. In some countries food campaigners are intent on "taking the power back from the people who manipulate the rest of us".( I think they had the WTO in mind here.) In recent years numerous films have become popular viewing..."Food Inc."... "The End of the Line,"..."Black Gold,"..."Our Daily Bread,"..."The Real Dirt on Farmer John,"...

From website 'Hungry for Change':-
..."In 'Food Inc,' filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our governments regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nations food supply is now controlled by a handful od corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livlihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E.coli-the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans anually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults." ...

FILM- "The End of the Line" is a film based on a book by Charles Clover, about diminished fish stocks.The illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing worth up to 25 billion dollars per year, has just about emptied the oceans.
He makes the point that "Europe is one of the few places where the citizen has absolutely no right to sue the executive for not observing the law that they themselves have written."

FILM- 'Black Gold'. Coffee is Ethiopia's no.1 export commodity, but the farmers barely make a living from their crops.The big profit goes into the pockets of some of our largest corporations, boosted also by the large prices we pay for an espresso drink in the west. The film follows an Ethiopean man, Tadesse Meskela, who travels all over the world, trying to get the farmers he represents a fairer price for their coffee, and trying to find new buyers by giving out samples.

FILM- "OUR DAILY BREAD". This is a movie without voiceover, with images of the way we produce food in Europe. Big greenhouses in Holland, warehouses with thousands of chickens, abbatoirs...
FILM-" THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN"- This is the story of John Peterson, a farmer in Illinois. John Peterson runs his farm based on a direct relationship with the people he grows the food for. He started CSA, 'community supported agriculture'. He talks about the way industrial farming has pushed people off the land and destroyed the livlihoods of thousands of farmers. He believes in a more respectful relationship to the land, and to what sustains us-food.

For anyone interested in the above, a good website to visit is 'SLOWFOOD' campaigns for "good, clean and fair food......respect for the environment, human health and animal welfare....a fair wage for food producers...." they work to raise awareness about the sustainability and social justice issues surrounding the food we eat. "Slow Food UK aims to protect and preserve the traditional foods of the United Kingdom, defend biodiversity and promote food education." (quotes from slowfood website)


Jamblichus said...

Thanks for the shout out Blatch, I'll have to check out some of those films too...

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