S4L Book Club – Cheap

The farming section of the book was another eye-opening and fascinating section for me. The idea that food is going to waste in some places while people are starving in others is hard for me to reconcile.

It seems inappropriate to ask if you had a “favorite” part in the farm discussion, but were there any sections that stood out for you? The shrimp farming, rice, and Monsanto sections are what stick with me.

Personally, I find the Monsanto issue very disturbing. Farmers who want nothing to do with Monsanto or their GMO seeds are being absurdly penalized because seeds spread via wind, birds, and other uncontrollable ways, and when it happens, Monsanto claims infringement on their patents.

By all means, sue the entities responsible for the infringement (wind, birds…), not the victim of the infringement (farmers who don’t want your seeds in the first place). Why isn’t Monsanto held accountable for contaminating other farmers’ fields? Let’s call this pollution. Don’t we have laws for that? I’m ranting, but, really, if this is the “system,” then the system needs fixing.

Seriously, this issue makes my blood boil. Here’s an anti-Monsanto article from a site I like if you want to read more.

And people on the planet—in our own country—don’t have enough food.

The shrimp farming stood out to me, mostly because we’ve been catching our own wild shrimp here in Alaska. As you probably know, food is something we like to provide for ourselves as much as we can, whether by hunting (salmon, halibut, shrimp, and moose), harvesting (blueberries, cranberries) or growing (garden veggies to fill a large freezer).

We are now beginning to make yogurt, sour cream, and cheeses with milk from local dairy farms. So excited!

I heard a statistic once that went something like this: The human beings on the earth will consume more food this year than all humans have consumed since they inhabited the earth.

Now, I could be mangling what I read, and I had no proof it was true in its original form, but just consider the premise: Human population has grown to a size that puts more pressure than ever on the earth to provide food. Commercial fishing is big here in Alaska, and we’re keenly aware that wild fish populations are declining, to put it lightly. Might we be the last era of humans to collect and consume wild food? I think we might be. I think humans are moving more and more toward manufactured food: Think baby formula, PediaCare, Herbalife, etc.

I read an article last summer about vertical gardening that suggested produce could be grown in tall city buildings with controlled temperatures, lights, and moisture. I think vertical gardening is cool, but the whole “controlled environment” gives me pause. I love the idea of more locally-grown food: fresher, less energy to transport, etc.

Do you think our future food production will be more global (mega-farms growing all the world’s rice and transporting it) or local? I wonder if transportation costs will force more local growing.

What do you think?

Categories: Reading