|Food Independence or Interdependence?|
|Monday, 01 July 2013 00:00 | Written by Marita Prandoni | Blog Entry|
More and more, people are experimenting with local eating, many inspired by bestselling books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. My primary motivation, though, comes from examining a food system that has been hijacked by multinational agribusiness. For me, eating locally is not just trendy or health conscious. It’s political.
What’s Political about Food?
The world’s poorest people spend up to 80% of their income on food. The rate of growth in agricultural yields is half of what it was in 1990 and is expected to be less than 1% over the next decade. Multiple reasons are to blame, primarily:
The World Bank estimates that rising food prices have swept 44-million more people into poverty—within the last year alone. Meanwhile, the world’s largest grain traders in corn, soy and wheat—ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus, also known as “the ABCD four”—are making off like bandits. Argentina is currently suing them for tax evasion and inflating costs to claim tax credits there.
If we want a more equitable distribution of food resources, we should avoid buying grains that are grown and traded by corporate giants—especially those that are genetically engineered. One way to do that is to grow what you can on your own and rely on small-scale, local farms when you cannot. If your local farmers do not grow grain, buy GMO-free and organic grains.
What Kind of Diet Promotes Health?
According to the Earth Policy Institute, Italians live longer than Americans despite lower healthcare expenditures due to a Mediterranean diet that is lighter in protein. If Americans matched the protein consumption of Italians, the world grain harvest could feed twice as many people. If a significant percentage of Americans went vegetarian, we could feed billions more.
Which Foods Use Less Energy?
What Are Some Other Benefits of Food Independence?
Humanity has been exchanging grain, seeds, spices and recipes over large expanses of land and sea for millennia, so we have evolved within a broadened dietary experience. It would seem extreme to be completely deprived of foreign flavors and ethnic delights. In this age of climate instability and widespread social unrest, however, we should break free from agribusiness bondage and eat mostly what grows close to home. Fortunately, where I live in the mountainous Southwest, a smorgasbord of heritage fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are making a comeback.
It is not competition and independence that enrich the web of life, but cooperation and sharing. A more sustainable model is one of interdependence. Buying and trading fair, local edibles within bioregional boundaries can contribute to personal and global health—and equally important, a resilient circle of friends.
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