Industrial farming has played a part in sucking this critical element out of our soil.
The Economist have the following graph on their site at the moment (link).
This is a fascinating graph. The location of SA mid-table is interesting, I would hazard a guess that wealthy South Africans spend a similar of their incomes on food and drink as the British.
It is unsurprising…
“We are not customers of Monsanto. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their gene-spliced technology. We don’t want their trespass onto our farms. We don’t want their contamination of our crops. We don’t want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence. We want justice."
How does Monsanto keep moving in the face of this kind of opposition? They pay for it.
Tom Laskaway »
When you have to defend your food production practice by saying, “Hey, at least we don’t use household cleaners on it!” you know you’ve got a big problem.
What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’t make you sick. Because, I hate to break it to you folks, but ammonium hydroxide is just one in a long list of unlabeled chemical treatments used on almost all industrial meat and poultry.
Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News dug up this United Stated Department of Agriculture document [PDF], which lists dozens of chemicals that processors can apply to meat without any labeling requirement. Things like calcium hypochlorite (also used to bleach cotton and clean swimming pools), hypobromous acid (also used as a germicide in hot tubs), DBDMH (or 1,3-dibromo-5,5-dimethylhydantoin, which is also used in water treatment), and chlorine dioxide (also used to bleach wood pulp), to name just a few.
All these chemicals can go on meat. Not that you’d know it, because both the industry and the USDA keep it on the down-low. >continue<
…while Monsanto spends billions of dollars trying to develop and market climate-ready wonder seeds, these farmers have already developed sufficient genetic diversity within their farming systems that they don’t need Monsanto’s wonder seeds. >continue<
The author, Tom Philpott, assessing the upshot of a recent study
Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland digs into south Florida tomato growing, and finds everything wrong with industrial agribusiness carried to the logical — and chilling — extreme.
Ironically, Estabrook explains, the Sunshine State is anything but an ideal place to grow tomatoes. The sandy soil lacks nutrients and must be supplemented with tons of chemical fertilizer. The rarity of frosts provides pests and pathogens a haven, requiring growers to spray tons of chemical pesticides. The humidity encourages blights, spots and mold. But Florida does have one key benefit: proximity to customers in densely populated and very cold East Coast cities.
Estabrook’s exposure of the resulting environmental and human tragedies places “Tomatoland” in the tradition of the best muckraking journalism, from Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation.” There are plenty of shocking statistics: For instance, in 2006, Florida growers sprayed nearly 8 million pounds of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides on their tomato crops, nearly eight times as much as California growers used for a similar-size crop.
I won’t recount the deformities of the workers’ babies that reside in the killing fields of the tomato farms, but the real travesty is that the only visibility we have into the food chain is investigative journalism. We need open food — transparency into the practices involved in growing, production, transport, and distribution. And the only way to do that might be to jump outside of agribusiness and create new food networks.
Understanding why food prices are rocketing again – with the cost of wheat and maize up around 70% in the past year – so soon after the bubble of 2008 should make us look more closely at what’s changed in the food market.
…The past decade has seen something remarkable happen: sharp-elbowed bankers and gullible politicians in America and Britain have turned basic foodstuffs into something to bet on. The result has been mayhem and starvation in Africa and Asia. There were riots in more than 30 countries three years ago, and a spike in world hunger. As commodity prices surge again, I wouldn’t bet against a re-run.
China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other rich countries that cannot grow their own crops have bought or leased prime lands in Africa at rock bottom prices. Africa is already struggling with food shortages, and their prime lands are being used for foreign export. These countries use African land to grow food for export while paying low wages in a near feudalistic system, extract hugely valuable water resources, and are using millions of tons of unregulated pesticides. Brilliant.
The IIED has a page dedicated to land use deals in Africa, here.
Egypt is a nation of bread eaters. Its citizens consume 18 million tons of wheat annually, more than half of which comes from abroad. Egypt is now the world’s leading wheat importer, and subsidized bread — for which the government doles out approximately $2 billion per year — is seen as an entitlement by the 60 percent or so of Egyptian families who depend on it.
As Egypt tries to fashion a functioning democracy after President Hosni Mubarak’s departure, land grabs to the south are threatening its ability to put bread on the table because all of Egypt’s grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows north through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Egypt. (Since rainfall in Egypt is negligible to nonexistent, its agriculture is totally dependent on the Nile.)
Unfortunately for Egypt, two of the favorite targets for land acquisitions are Ethiopia and Sudan, which together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Today’s demands for water are such that there is little left of the river when it eventually empties into the Mediterranean. >continue<
The coming water wars will divide the world like never before.