Published Jul 9 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived Jul 9 2009

Food & agriculture - July 9

by Staff

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Eat What You Grow, Grow What You Eat?

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
... Why is all of this so important? Well, it comes down the question of why I include “eat the food” in my Independence Days project. It seems like so minor a thing - ”Of course we’re eating the food, we’re growing it, right?” But I think all of us have yet to fully grasp the magnitude of the food question from a eater’s perspective. Right now, the vast majority of our calories are coming from grain production, mostly not very sustainable grain production. Those of us most aware of the issue are at least buying our grains direct from sustainable farmers - this is excellent. A few people are eating mostly what is available in their regions. All of us are eating more out of our gardens. But it remains the fact that only 5% of US cropland is growing vegetables, nuts and unusual small grains - the vast majority of our agricultural land is growing either meat, dairy, grains or soybeans.

And most of even the most committed people I know are (and here I cannot fully except even myself) eating a lot of things that don’t really grow all that sustainably in our regions because we like them, because our families are accustomed to them, because we feel that a meal without bread or rice or tortillas is not a meal. Because we have picky eaters in our family. Because we have no idea what to do with a big pile of acorn meal or a cassava root, and no real desire to learn - or if we do want to learn, no quick easy way to overcome the cultural weight of it not being “our” food. Food is not merely food, it is culture, it is our identity in some ways - we think of ourselves, implicitly, as being part of a community of eaters, and if our community does not eat what we eat, we are dubious.

This is an issue that comes up across the PO/Climate change community spectrum, and one I think all of these communities rarely struggle enough with.
(6 July 2009)

Coming Soon: ‘Local Food’, a Transition guide, and an interview with the author

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture

September 17th 2009 sees the publication of the keenly awaited ‘Local Food: how to make it happen in your community’, the first in a series of Transition Guides exploring different aspects of Transition at a community level. You can download the blad here (blad stands for ‘book layout and design’ and is a small document that gives booksellers a taste of the book). As the book nears completion, I asked the lead author, Tamzin Pinkerton, a few questions by way of introducing the book…

How did ‘Local Food’ come about?

The idea came about because work around food is such a popular focus point for Transition groups, and there is a real need for a book that shows what other amazing projects are out there and that can inspire more of the same. At the same time, food is a powerful entry point into the broader aims of community transition and the current growing popularity in food awareness is a good opportunity to spread an understanding of transition and bottom-up, cultural transformation.

...I think it’s important to emphasise that we’re not presenting a blue print for food change, or a one-size-fits-all approach. That would only help to stifle the creativity bubbling away in communities across the world. Instead, we show what is already happening, offer suggestions and tips that may be of help to fledgling food initiatives, and encourage them to embark on work that is appropriate for their energy levels, place, community, and environment. There will undoubtedly be many more ‘types’ of local food projects that will spring up in coming years - this book is a snapshot of the here and now, and may well need to be revised every 6 months!

...Throughout this process we became increasingly aware of the importance of celebrating the vast amount of local food work that is also being carried out beyond the Transition Movement, and that the Movement has built on and is drawing from. So I began to look further afield for some well-established local food projects to balance out the list of relatively new projects we already had, and to make the point that collaboration, inspiration and learning between local food initiatives is crucial, whether they were initiated within the Transition Movement, by organisations in the field, or as a result of spontaneous, independent community action.

...My hope is that people who are not yet participating in local food networks will read this book and feel that they are capable of playing a part in the local food revival, know that they can shape the systems and chains that feed us, and see that food culture change is not only necessary, but also possible and wonderfully good fun. For people already involved in Transition and local food, I hope the book will feed their enthusiasm, generate more ideas and provide them with many resources, contacts, tips and stories to help them on their way.
(9 July 2009)

Pelosi buys off agri-business to advance climate bill

TIMOTHY P. CARNEY, Washington Examiner

What began as a liberal crusade to slow manmade global warming is increasingly becoming a porkfest for well-connected corporations.
In order to get a vote today on greenhouse gas restrictions, House Democrats have bought off farm-state lawmakers with gifts to the farm lobby and the ethanol and agri-chemical industries--gifts that further undermine the legislation's purported environmental benefits.

Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland, two of the environmentalists' corporate enemies, now stand to profit handsomely from the Waxman-Markey bill's cap-and-trade scheme aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the hope of slowing the shift in climate.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, held a hearing earlier this month on the "American Clean Energy and Security Act," sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ed Markey, D-Mass. Committee members asked, on behalf of farmers, agri-business, and the agri-chemical industry, "what's in this for us?"
Peterson, according to the environmentalist website Grist, demanded concessions from Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., or else he would lead a bloc of three dozen farm-state lawmakers to kill the bill in the House. At the expense of whatever credibility remained in Waxman-Markey's claim to affect the climate, Pelosi and Waxman gave the agri-lobby two significant gifts.

First, they bought off the ethanol lobby, led by Archer Daniels Midland, the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the Corn Refiners Association.

As the second concession, Waxman and Pelosi bought off the broader farm lobby--one of the most powerful special interests in Washington--and the agri-chemical industry with the promise of "carbon offsets."
(26 June 2008)