Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The times they are a-changin'

"It's all part of the global pattern some scientists have been forecasting for decades, and which many in positions of influence have chosen to ignore, scorn, or lie about. The climate is indeed changing. We will never see "normal" times again - or at least not for many centuries - and agriculture, our food supply, is in the firing line. Sometimes the weather will be too dry, sometimes too wet, and although it will generally be warmer it is likely in some places to be colder than ever remembered. The "good" and "normal" years will be the aberrations.

But never mind - shortage is good for business. Wheat prices now are 40% higher than the average of the past decade, the price of US maize last year was up by 30%, and, I suspect, we ain't seen nothing yet. This does wonders for GDP and the economic growth by which governments measure their success.

The world could feed itself - well and forever. But if we are serious about this then we have to design agriculture specifically to feed people. The principles are simple: grow crops where they grow best and fit the livestock in where we can. This way we would provide lots of plants, not much meat, and maximum variety, which is just what nutritionists recommend and is the basis of all the world's great cuisines. Sound farming and great cooking go together.

Why don't we move towards self-reliance? Because in the short term it's more profitable to import food, feed grain to livestock and churn out the biofuel. SUVs first, then beef, then human beings."

Read the full article by Colin Tudge. (thanks Rania)

1 comment:

Leila said...

I am not sleeping well these days, and this sort of article is part of it. We are in a terrible drought in the West - 2/3 of the US is in a drought, and crops are failing everywhere. But folks still drive around and buy that crap food as if nothing were ever going to change.

However the permaculture hippies and peak oil activists are all putting gardens in urban yards, so there is some hope. I walk around my neighborhood looking at possible micro-plots for vegetable production. We live in a "garden suburb" with many large plots. Cuba's example is instructive.