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Category — Food Miles

The Green Benefits of Food Globalization: Markets at Work

“High-yield agriculture and long-distance trade have long delivered a similar outcome—more abundant and affordable food with reduced environmental impact—on a global scale…. So prepare your meal from the most affordable food you can find to do both your wallet and the planet a favor.”

The lessons of history can be very eloquent, if only we are willing to take the time to learn them. In a 2008 National Geographic article, journalist Charles Mann discusses how soil management policies in communist China led to the creation of terrace agriculture in unsuitable conditions, the cutting down of trees, and the planting of grain on steep slopes. The main results were increased soil erosion and soil depletion.

Daring to challenge official edicts, some villagers replanted the steepest and most erosion-prone third of their land with grass and trees, covered another third with harvestable orchards, and concentrated their crops on the remaining lower flat plots that had been enriched by the soil washed down from the hillsides.

As Mann tells his readers, by making better use of their limited supplies of fertilizer on the best land, the dissident villagers were able to increase yields to such an extent that they more than made up for the land no longer under cultivation and in the end managed to deliver both increased output and reduced environmental impact. [Read more →]

May 2, 2014   No Comments

Food Miles: The Local Food Activists’ Dilemma (a global warming inconvenient truth)

October 16th is World Food Day, an annual event that was inaugurated in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to mark its founding date in 1945. This year’s theme, “United against Hunger,” harks back to the FAO’s original mission. So what exactly are the central food planners and the anti-industrial Left thinking about food-for-all these days?

Demonizing Capitalism’s Food Bonanza 

With the advent of the “foodie” fad and the rise of celebrity chefs, discussions about the most effective ways to address hunger in poor countries have increasingly fallen out of fashion among advanced economies’ food activists. Indeed, in a world where no good deed goes unpunished, the individuals most responsible for producing ever-growing amounts of food at ever more affordable prices – from large scale farmers, professional plant breeders, synthetic pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers to agricultural equipment manufacturers, commodity traders, logistics industry workers and packaging manufacturers – have increasingly been demonized as poor stewards of the Earth, if not outright public health threats.

What really motivates food activists these days are rather SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical) food initiatives whose aim is to “liberate” consumers and communities from the grips of Agri-businesses. And here the critics have it just about all wrong. [Read more →]

October 15, 2010   14 Comments