Published Jan 31 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived Jan 31 2009

Food & agriculture - Jan 31

by Staff

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Food Security as a Cottage Industry

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
It would be great if all of us had the luxury of putting our community’s food security needs at the top of our agendas, simply because we care. The problem, of course, is the need for us to meet other requirements - to make a living, get food on the table, tend our families, etc… One of the ways we can find more time for this project is to shift some of our income to local food security work. So what kind of jobs are there that allow you to improve your local food economy? How might you make a cottage industry niche for yourself that might simultaneously improve your family’s economic security in tough times, and also help your community maintain a food supply?

Now obviously if you and your partner already work two full time jobs, or you are a single Mom struggling to just get through the day, the last thing you need is a new business. But for the retired, underemployed, unemployed or for at-home parents who might need a little extra income, this offers the possibility of doing good and also keeping the wolf from the door.

So here are some jobs I can think of (I’m leaving out jobs as growers or raising livestock - I’ll do a post on growing and producing food for income next month during the Garden Design class) - I’m sure the rest of you can come up with others.

Let me be clear that anyone dealing with food is going to have to decide how they want to operate in relationship to food laws. Know your local food laws, and know how they are enforced. The recent Manna Storehouse raid suggests that we need to take care. I believe that many food safety policies do exist for a reason - but the fact that they so hugely prioritize the well being of rich corporations, who still can’t keep the food supply safe (witness the current peanut contamination and cyclical contaminations that show up every few months), that we’d be better off allowing more small scale food production.
(27 January 2009)

Industrially grown produce shows long-term nutritional decline

Tom Philpott, Gristmill
Less tasty -- and not as good for you
Talk to old-timers, and they'll often tell you that the tomatoes you find in supermarket produce sections don't taste anything like the ones they had in their childhoods in the '30s and '40s.

Turns out, they're probably not as nutritious, either.

In an article [PDF] published in the February 2009 issue of the HortScience Review, University of Texas researcher Donald R. Davis compiles evidence that points to declines in nutrition in vegetables and (to a lesser extent) fruits over the past few decades
(28 January 2009)

Zimbabwe's starving millions face halving of rations as UN cash dries up

Chris McGreal, Guardian
The United Nations is to halve the food ration to millions of Zimbabweans, bringing it below what will keep an adult alive, as the numbers of people dependent on aid rises sharply and donations from foreign governments fall well short of demand.

The World Food Programme is to cut the core maize ration in February from 10kg to 5kg a month – or just 600 calories a day – for 7 million Zimbabweans, about 70% of the people left in the country. The recommended ration is 12kg a month.

As a result of the cuts, many Zimbabweans will be fortunate to eat once a day. Millions have been left dependent on food aid because of years of crop failures mostly caused by the knock-on effects of the government's seizure of white-owned farms and the collapse of the economy and infrastructure.
(29 January 2009)