Posts Tagged ‘sustainable food’

Is it Pork without the Hog?

May 6th, 2010

The hog has gone the way of the eggplant, of corn, of wheat: pork will soon be produced by white cloaked scientists in laboratorys far away.  Dutch scientists are transforming the stem cells from a hog into edible pork.  This meat posesses the consistency of a scallop and is deficient in protein, yet  could be used as “processed meat in sausages and hamburgers”  (Maria Cheng,  Scientists turn stem cells into pork.  The Associated Press, January 15, 2010.)

Potentially we could feed protein to millions of the hungry.   Pork created in the factory would not need the vast amount of land used to raise  and feed the hogs.  This new meat production may well even be cheaper.

Yet…should we?

We don’t even have sufficient information about the effects of genetically modified food crops. Scientists are blocked from seriously investigating because  of “the threat of litigation…they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.” (The Editors, Scientific American Magazine, August 2009). Scientific American We are increasing the reach of technology as it is applied to food.  Theororeticllaty our entire diet could soon be processed.

More hungry people exist today as a percentage of the population than before the Green Revolution. (Craig Sams. The Little Food Book.  Disinformation, 2004)  The increase in nitrogen based pesticides and fertilizers has increased the amount of food being prized from the ground. Yet obesity has surpassed hunger.   (Health Experts: Obesity Pandemic Looms. The Associated Press.  Sept. 3, 2006) MSNBC The dearth of food is not the reason people are hungry: poverty is the root cause of hunger.   People losing their land and becoming unable to feed themselves is another facet of this issue.

The medical system is now just beginning to feel the impact that food related disease is having on the populace.  The hospitals and medical facilities are still reeling from this onslaught of food related diseases.

Is the food we are eating killing us?

While the idea of food made cheaply (as far as indirect costs to the environment, land use, etc…) seems a tempting way to feed the hungry, it may very well have negative side effects on the human constitution.  The actual costs of  industrial food production have not  suitably been evaluated.  Whether it is our inability to control the Industrial Food System or our inpatience as a culture, much of our nation is hurtling  toward a society composed of the hungry and  the obese.

Every meal counts.  More importantly, every dollar spent on those meals counts.  In a political system where nothing seems to get done and hope can sometimes be far away, make every dollar count.

Is it still Meat?

April 21st, 2010

The evolution of agricultural science which lifted off in the 1960’s (well, the process may have started in the forties, but didn’t actually receive the sobriquet “Green Revolution” until sometime in the 1960’s) worked famously: grain production increased signifcantly, yet  “global increase in crop yields per” hectare “across 1961 – 1999 were accompanied by a 97% increase in irrigated acreage and 638 %, 203 %,and 854 % increases in use of nitrogen fertilizer, phosphorus fertilizer, and production of pesticides, respectively.”(B. TRENDS IN ACREAGE AND YIELDS,  Patricia Muir.  Oregon State 1998) One must look at both sides of the coin to see the whole truth.

A huge increase in food was not only offset with a growth in population, but also with a historic use of chemicals used to produce that food.  Those fertilizers can be directly traced  to the meat on the BBQ.  There hasn’t been sufficient testing to understand the influence those trace chemicals may have for human consumption and no testing on the effects of Genetically Modified Food.  Yet we are consuming those meats in historic numbers…we are perhaps supplying the medical field with a vast and growing base of lifelong customers.  Petroleum > corn > lifestock > humans.  Although this is the current dominant paradigm it is not the only and certainly not the healthiest.

We are fortunate that  CSA  programs for meat (Local Harvest) exist.  The more support we can give these folks, the more successful these ventures will be  the greater the chance to alter the current food paradigm.  It’s tough to pay that extra money, but its just the straight costs up front, not the hidden costs of industrial food that may lead to disease and an unfulfilling existence.