Saturday, March 13, 2010

Food and Fuel, Part 1

This morning, my lovely friend Seanan posted a great article on the high cost of cheap food. (That would be the high cost to the people growing it.) Timothy A. Wise, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University makes some trenchant observations about the risks of neglecting biodiversity in favor of high-yield, high-input crops (in layman's terms, heavily fertilized, watered and resource draining crops). The issue of what's on our plate, and how empty the plates of so many on this planet are, is a contentious one. Two years ago, we started hearing about issues of food grown for First World fuel sources (alcohol-based fuel being a case in point, but even some bio-diesels are produced with edible source material). But the issues that continue to plague the starving many are changes in the entire ethos of agriculture. The goal is too often not to feed the planet but rather to make profits. The need for ethical discussion relevant to food production remains the great unaddressed issue of the 21st Century. It's a highly politicized issue. I'll write more on it in coming weeks. In the mean time, you can watch Denis van Waerebeke's take:

You can read Denis's article at Fast Company.

Reading these two articles made me set aside my Chilean plum and cast a guilty eye at it. What are we doing when we buy food these days? I endeavor to buy local but even locally produced food is produced largely on the high-yield, high-input model here in South Florida.

Wild corn in Mexico. Biodiversity is not in fashion. Except in Svalbard.

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