Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Food Holds the Ultimate Leverage, Part I (Opinion)

Food Holds the Ultimate Leverage, Part I (Opinion)
He who controls the food supply can and will have leverage and control over the people. If we take back our agriculture and can buy and raise produce locally, we can begin to break the grip of the corporations that control a food system that is fragile, unsafe and destined for collapse just like our financial system.

If we continue to allow the corporations to decide what we eat and how food is raised, harvested and distributed, then we will bear the burden of high prices and shortages and become dependent on cheap, mass produced food loaded with sugar, fat and salt. We will open the door to more obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Already the effects of climate change, droughts and rising fossil fuel costs have wreaked havoc on the environments of millions. One sixth of the world's population, or approximately one billion people, subsist on less than $1 per day. And out of this number, about 160 million people get by on less than 50 cents a day. How would you like to be in a situation where 60% of your income was spent on food?

Food riots have brought about food rationing; 33 million Americans ( one in nine) are on food stamps and in 20 states, as many as one in eight are on food stamps. With an average monthly food stamp benefit of $113.87 per person, many, many people are without adequate food. Even more depressing is the fact that Congress allocated $54 billion for food stamps in the current fiscal year, up from $39 billion, but in the new fiscal year, costs are estimated at $60 billion.

The large factory farms have wiped out the small farmers. Our soil has been poisoned with enormous quantities of pesticides, and contaminated animals in overcrowded stockyards are fed a flowing and endless supply of antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones. The garbage that has been pumped into the water systems has caused algae build up and mass dying of fish in the rivers and streams.

Because of the blight of changing weather patterns and chemical pollution, crop yields in the Northeast are rapidly becoming less and less. And the Food Modernization Act, another gift from the Washington politicians that serve the big corporations and not the people, means that the small farms will soon be a thing of the past.

The entire economy built around food is unsafe and unethical and it is the food that is the greatest place for communities to start taking back power. Look at reality. The national food system is collapsing. The Central Valley of California produces more than 50% of what we eat. So what happens when gasoline hits $5 a gallon or a heavy drought blankets the cropland? Chaos happens! This unstable system of food production must be replaced with small, diverse sources that will provide a greater food security.

There was a study done by Cornell University to determine whether or not New York state could feed itself. What they found was even if all agricultural land was used and food distribution was optimized to minimize the total distance that the food needed to travel, New York state could only meet 34% of their total food needs.

What's even worse is that New York City, that relied upon New Jersey for food supplies, now has to face the fact that the, if you will pardon the expression, "Garden State" has had their farms give way to housing developments. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the upstate farming communities in New York have been gutted by industrial farming.

Stay tuned for Part 2

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