Deglobalization – The Price of Food in the New World Economy


When we think of how low prices for food have been in the United States since the industrial revolution, we mostly congratulate ourselves for our technological and agricultural prowess that made this possible. Our ingenuity of being able to produce more food per acre than ever before is a badge of honor in our collective unconscious. All of us can’t help but take for granted how cheap food really is for the American consumer.

American organizations such as the Red Cross come to the rescue when disaster strikes in various parts of the world. Supported by our huge reserves of grain, wheat, corn and rice, transport planes are loaded with “surplus” grains, flours, milk powders and ready to eat meals. As Americans, we think that we have conquered the food production challenge – a perfect example of humanity winning out over nature.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The world has changed dramatically in just the past 10 years and yet our approach to agriculture has not evolved to meet today’s changing environmental landscape.

World Food Price Crisis

World Food Price Crisis

In July 2008 the price of oil – inexorably linked to the price of food – shot up to a high of $147.30 per barrel. This surge in oil prices (much of it stemming from commodities traders) has a multiplier effect on food prices. First, because fossil fuel is a major source of nitrogen fertilizer used in much of the large farming operations run by the worlds leading agribusiness concerns. Next, the transportation of food is run almost entirely on a system completely dependent upon fossil fuels. The result means increased pricing for food that is a staple for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.

This multiplier effect was evidenced here in the United States when, in April 2008 Sam’s Club instituted a limit on how much long-grain white rice restaurants and retail customers could purchase due to world-wide shortages. The U.S. was mostly spared from major price jumps in food commodity prices – but, other developed nations were effected severely with the developing nations being the hardest hit by what has been labeled as the Global Food Crisis.

In India, food riots were reported in the Indian state of West Bengal in 2007 over shortages of food. Haitian food riots caused several deaths and prices for food items such as rice, beans, fruit and condensed milk have gone up 50 percent since late 2007 while the price of fuel tripled in only two months. The Brazilian government reacted by announcing a temporary ban on the export of rice to protect their consumers from shortages.

Many other factors were at work to create this dire scenario that led to the Crisis. The administration of former president George W. Bush was active lobbying Congress to pass the Energy Independence and Security Act that focused on promoting agrofuels and the automobile fuel industry. The act targeted the increase of agrofuels production by more than eightfold from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007 to at least 36 billion gallons in 2022.

Many small and mid-sized farmers were being offered exorbitant prices for their land by those wishing to cash in on the rush to turn corn into ethanol.

Price of Oil Peaks in 2008

Arable lands that once had been utilized for growing corn for consumption, were being diverted to the production of ethanol. This phenomena led to the relatively short-lived boom\bust of the ethanol craze in the U.S. The cost to grow the corn and convert it into ethanol was, as it turned out, a negative sum proposition. Only if the price of oil were to continue to climb past $140 could corn ethanol hope to be price competitive.

So far, just Brazil has proven that sugar cane can be converted into ethanol efficiently. After 30 years of technological innovation, government mandates and public acceptance, Brazil’s mandatory fuel blend is 25% of anhydrous ethanol and 75% gasoline or E25 blend. The combination of vast arable land and superior agri-industrial technology makes this possible.


Bibliography

1. 2007–2008 world food price crisis, Wikipedia
2. Food Wars by Walden Bello and Mara Baviera, Monthly Review (July-August 2009)
3. The price of food: ingredients of a global crisis, Heidi Fritschel (April 9, 2008)
4. Ethanol fuel in Brazil, Wikipedia

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Soil Composting – Sustainable Means Local


Compost Bin

What does it take to build your own rich, organic soil and do it sustainably?

Many of you have heard of composting or may even have a bin out in the garden. But, is this system meeting your needs or do you find yourself making runs to the local garden store for a few bags of soil? Chances are that these bags came from many hundreds of miles away. A more sustainable system would be to make use of a local composting facility. That is, if there is one near you.

If you live in or near Sonoma, than consider yourself lucky. Sonoma Compost operates the Organic Recycling Program on behalf of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency. They accept yard trimmings and vegetative food discards that are placed in curbside containers by local residents. Yard trimmings are also delivered directly to their site by landscapers, tree trimmers and the public.

Sonoma Compost’s program has already reduced 1,200,000 tons of yard and wood debris, then converted it into organic compost, mulch, recycled lumber, firewood and bio-fuel.Compost Bins

If you don’t have a composting facility in your area, here’s what can individuals do to produce sustainable, organic soil in their backyards or community gardens.

Backyard Compost Bins: Composting is nature’s own way of recycling and helps to keep the high volume of organic material out of landfills and turns it into a useful product. On-site composting reduces the cost of hauling materials and is generally exempted from solid waste regulations. Large scale facilities can handle more material and potentially produce a more consistent product.

Bokashi: This system relies on fermentation to decompose the matter rather than putrefaction, so no offensive odor is produced. In about 10 days, you can bury the nutrient-rich matter in the garden or empty the Bokashi kitchen compost bucket into your compost pile to help improve physical, chemical and biological environments in the soil.

Worm Bins: Vermiculture, or worm composting, allows you to compost your food waste rapidly, while producing high quality compost and fertilizing liquid. Best of all, it’s self-contained and nearly odorless.

The concept of a city run composting facility may not seem sustainable; especially if you consider that trucks burn fossil fuel to haul their loads through neighborhoods, causing air pollution, traffic and more wear and tear on the roads. Then, individuals make separate trips from the suburbs to the local composting center transporting soil back to their homes. The inefficiency of this system is obvious but, may be a means to an end.

I believe that the benefits to having a city-run composing program would outweigh the downside of having none at all. Once a program is up and running, people can utilize the service to enrich their backyard gardens, urban farmers would benefit greatly and there’s the benefit of a reduction in the volume of organic waste going to the landfill.

The following improvements could make this centralized composting system more sustainable:

1. Upgrade the trucks to bio-diesel or other renewables,
2. Encourage community involvement in home composting systems,
3. Run composting workshops,
4. Work with local entrepreneurs to start small, community-based composting stations in their neighborhoods.

To some, it might not seem that difficult to divert your organic waste to a compost bucket to your backyard, but many perceive it to be too time-consuming. There’s also a cultural barrier connected with the formation of soil: some perceive it to be dirty and smelly. Strangely though, many people also view composting as a socially-responsible effort rather than a common sense one, since they do not use the resulting soil in a garden.

With a little effort and a change in behavior, you could be producing many cubic feet of rich, organic compost in your very back yard. The qualitative benefits include a more abundant and productive garden for you and your family. This equates to better health and nutrition. Quantitatively, you are helping to divert from landfill, more than 25 percent your household’s waste and food scraps. In 1996, The Composting Council analyzed backyard composting programs and concluded that the average household in the study composted an average of 646 pounds per year, which amounted to more than 12 pounds every week.

Your family, your community and your tomatoes will thank you for it.

Sustainable Coffee


Café Mam is sustainably grown, fair trade, organic, shade grown and hand picked.

Two words. Café Mam.

There it is folks, the best coffee I’ve ever had the pleasure to brew. Not only that, but it’s the most sustainable and at a price that beats most lesser quality brands. Less than $10 bucks a pound for a 5 lb. bag and that includes tax and shipping!

Why care about the coffee you drink?

Simple. By purchasing coffee that is sourced from growers using sustainable agricultural methods, you are part of the solution and not the problem. Café Mam coffee is grown by fair trade cooperatives of native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala. According to their website –

“The farmers believe that by taking care of the soil, they are taking care of the entire bio-system. Their beliefs and sustainable approaches to agriculture benefit their communities in many positive ways. Café Mam farmers seek to conserve and rebuild the natural environment and work toward a higher quality of life for their families.”

The growers that supply the beans belong to a collective. The collective is organized according to egalitarian democratic ideals that emphasize hard work, responsibility, and high standards. The cooperative’s programs provide countless benefits to outlying native communities.

Over the past 30 years coffee grown from sun tolerant trees has been the norm. However, the mono-cropping methods used depletes soil and has a negative impact on the environment. Conversely, shade grown varieties support biodiversity and house up to two-thirds of the bird species found in natural forests in the same geographic areas.

You can feel good about the coffee you drink, knowing it provides so many benefits to the environment. I like to keep Café Mam coffee on hand so I don’t run out. Going online to order is easy, convenient and makes a wonderful gift for that sustainable someone in your life.

Indigenous Cultures Rediscover Sustainable Farming Practices


In writing “Hope’s Edge“, Frances Moore Lappé and Anne Lappé traveled to India, Bangladesh, Brasil, Poland, England, France, and the California Bay Area to look at the different ways food is grown and distributed. What they discovered about the systems of food production in places like Belo Horizonte, Brasil and Andhra Pradesh, India are inspiring and surprising.

“Hunger is caused by a scarcity of democracy, not a scarcity of food.”

– Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé

What is Belo Horizonte doing that every city in the world should do? They took the challenge of poverty and hunger that was afflicting their city head on.

Belo Horizonte, Brasil - Population 5.4 million

In so doing, they realized that access to nutritious, healthy food was a basic right and, as a group of elected officials, they had a responsibility to the people of Belo Horizonte to make sure the market worked for them, in providing access to healthy, local and organic food. Out of this realization, a strong social movement to transform their food system took hold.

Seven years after this shift in consciousness, dozens of innovative projects emerged.  They looked at where government money was being spent and where new initiatives could better serve the people.

One of the projects that came out of this initiative was a fresh look at how the school food program was being run.

Belo Horizonte’s School Lunch Program Goes Sustainable

The City realized that they were spending significant amounts of money to purchase government processed food that was not very nutritious and needed to be trucked in from long distances. They said why don’t we support our local farms and in doing so, provide local, organic produce that is nutritious and supports local, organic farmers. The goals were to;

  • Supply healthier food to children
  • Support local organic farmers
  • Support regional economy
  • Become more self-reliant

Fast food companies were advertising in schools in an effort to influence the buying habits of young children. So, they launched a public education program to inform and educate children on what foods are healthy and nutritious.

The Results Speak For Themselves

After 7 years and spending 1% of the city’s budget (equivalent to 1 penny per person per day), they have dramatically improved basic childhood health indicators. The result has been decreased hunger overall and has lowered child mortality rates by 60% in the span of only 10 years.

Deccan Plateau, in Andhra Pradesh, India

Even in New York, food deserts do exist. New York City has just launched ‘Green Carts‘ to mitigate this urban phenomena. Small carts are filled with fresh produce and delivered into areas where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is non-existent.

The Thinking Around ‘Food Scarcity’ Needs To Change

People often cite that those most in need cannot concern themselves with eating local organic foods when they are faced with just putting food on the table. The claim has been that the organic food movement has been elitist and ruled by the ‘global north’.

Ms. Lappé counters by saying that what is elitist, is the current food production model because it excludes the many to favor the few. The global north is not where the only shifts are taking place in the effort to regain our agricultural heritage. Some of the poorest regions in the world are showing that a return to indigenous farming practices are yielding impressive results.

Leaders in Global Sustainable Farming Movement

The women living in villages of the Deccan Plateau, in Andhra Pradesh, India are becoming leaders in the “global movement” toward sustainable agricultural practices. They have rejected the disaster resulting from local farmers growing GM (genetically modified) seeds supplied to them from Monsanto. GM seeds need to be purchased from Monsanto after each harvest often causing the farmers to go in debt. Using non-regenerative seeds them has only brought devastating crop failures, resulting in farmers that are committing suicide at an alarming rate.

The local farmers are now going back to the indigenous practices of their ancestors, by teaching each other the ritual of seed sharing, diverse cropping methods and creating their own safety nets for their village in times of drought. They are even filming this whole process and sharing it with the world.

Balwadi grain contribution

One village seed-keeper showed samples of the 25-30 varieties of seeds (no wheat or rice) that she cares for and grows on about one hectare of land. The basic staple crops are a diversity of millets and sorghums. Millet seeds are tiny, but they do well in the dry Deccan plateau.  All had their value for both food and cattle fodder and together provided a balanced diet. As a seed-keeper, she does not own the seeds, and others in the village ‘borrow’ seeds from her, returning 1.5 to 2 times the quantity of seeds borrowed after harvest. Thus, the village stock of seeds grows and diversifies.

People in this region are some of the poorest in the world and they are in leadership roles within the sustainable food movement. The key is rebuilding food production systems that are not reliant upon synthetic fertilizers, which use huge amounts of fossil fuels and natural gas to produce. Changing to a more sustainable system of growing crops will reduce the impact to the poorest regions of the world, that are most affected by climate change.

Farming in Ethiopia Undergoes Ground Breaking Shift

Women of the Deccan Plateau, India filming indigenous seed-saving practices

Small-scale farmers in Ethiopia are also turning back to the native crops that are indigenous to the region. Historically, these indigenous plants have survived countless droughts while providing subsistence farmers a reliable livelihood.

The sustainable practices in the most drought prone regions in Ethiopia are having dramatic increases on crop yields using techniques that are affordable and safe. These farmers can’t afford to buy seeds that will put them in debt. Organic and sustainable farming practices mean the farmers are not reliant on chemical fertilizers, which are costly and deplete the soil of their organic matter over time.

Plant Resilience Means Human Resilience

When people begin to have the capacity to feed themselves from the land, to not be in debt to the corporations and to do it in a sustainable way, they build confidence in themselves.  Then, with this new-found self-reliance, they begin to experiment with crops, well-suited to their particular soil and weather pattern. They begin to break away from the dogma of conventional agriculture sold to them by the Monsantos and DuPonts of the world.

To survive in the 21st century, these farming communities need to adapt to a constantly changing climate pattern due to global warming. They can do this without GMOs and interference from agribusiness. Farmers that grow drought resilient crops native to their land, are themselves, becoming more resilient to an ever changing and unpredictable climate future.

Urban Farming in New Orleans


Recently, I spent my morning with Maycon Fry – “Garden Guy”. He works as a Mentor Farmer at Hollygrove Market & Farm (HM&F) in New Orleans, La.

Macon Frye Harvesting Arugula at Hollygrove Market & Farm

The day began with Maycon telling me how he came to this organization, while we harvested arugula using scissors and our bare hands. He’s a lefty so we stared on the same drill (row) across from one another.

After being accepted to the University of California at Santa Cruz’s AgroEcology Program,  Macon had an offer to start growing for Hollygrove, which is supported by the New Orleans Farm and Food Network (NOFFN). It’s been 5 years and he’s happy he made the choice to stay in New Orleans. His program allows him to grow such popular crops as arugula and also teach busloads of visiting students twice a week, which he does with a witty southern flair.

The Hollygrove Market and Farm is an innovative combination of urban farm, local produce market, and community garden space located in the heart of New Orleans.  HM&F partners with the Carrollton-Hollygrove Community Development Corporation, New Orleans Food & Farm Network, Tulane City Center, Trinity Christian Community, and the Master Gardeners of New Orleans.

The Hollygrove area of the City has long been described as a “food desert” because of the lack of grocers in the area. The market represents a larger city- wide effort to bring fresh food into grocery-starved neighborhoods without turning to an outside retailer and, instead, teach people to grow their own market-ready food.

The following day Ariel Wallick, Urban Agriculturalist/Educator with the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN), Niko and I loaded up their truck and drove out to buy supplies for a backyard garden build.  When we arrived, Lisa the owner of the home, was overjoyed at our arrival. Even the small children next door were interested and watched from over the fence as we worked.

Backyard Garden Build - NOFFN

We took turns taking wheel barrels full of soil and cow manure to the back yard and filling the raised bed. Then, Niko and Ariel put stakes in to hold up the tomato and eggplant starts. We agreed that the siting for the garden was good – lots of direct sunlight.

Finally, we planted, watered and we were off.

The Backyard Garden Project was developed by NOFFN (one of HM&F’s sponsors) to serve the greater New Orleans residents by offering them raised bed gardens, including soil, plants, trellises and consulting, all on a sliding scale.

At NOFFN they also teach such classes as, Water-wise Irrigation and Urban Rainwater Catchment and Home Orchards and Urban Bee-keeping.

So, if you’re living in New Orleans and want to grow your own, give the people at New Orleans Farm and Food Network a call: 504-864-2009.

The Hollygrove Market & Farm sells fresh produce six days a week and on the three-quarter-mile spread that surrounds the store, train budding urban farmers.

The urban farming movement is catching on in the Big Easy. Stay tuned and watch New Orleans grow!

We Need A Food Revolution – A Food Manifesto For The Future


Mark Bittman’s February 2, 2011 article, ‘A Food Manifesto for the Future”, published in the New York Times, goes straight to the heart of America’s dysfunctional food policies.

He lists the many failed policies like the subsidizing of mega-farm conglomerates which produce soy for feed stock. Junk food marketers then receive tax write-offs for their re-engineered products labeled as “food”. These subsidies and tax policies are the result of a bygone era where the bigwigs up on capitol hill gave little attention to what the U.S. Agricultural Department was up to. Decades of backdoor deals and quid pro quo arrangements have created the current food policy climate that is causing untold billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs exacerbating chronic obesity, diabetes and other food related illnesses.

His manifesto is far-reaching and takes a direct stab at the current systems most grievous failings. I’ll take each one in turn to comment and add my own suggestions below:

———————

For decades, Americans believed that we had the world’s healthiest and safest diet. We worried little about this diet’s effect on the environment or on the lives of the animals (or even the workers) it relies upon. Nor did we worry about its ability to endure — that is, its sustainability.

That didn’t mean all was well. And we’ve come to recognize that our diet is unhealthful and unsafe. Many food production workers labor in difficult, even deplorable, conditions, and animals are produced as if they were widgets. It would be hard to devise a more wasteful, damaging, unsustainable system.

Here are some ideas — frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented — that would make the growing, preparation and consumption of food healthier, saner, more productive, less damaging and more enduring. In no particular order:

  • End government subsidies to processed food. We grow more corn for livestock and cars than for humans, and it’s subsidized by more than $3 billion annually; most of it is processed beyond recognition. The story is similar for other crops, including soy: 98 percent of soybean meal becomes livestock feed, while most soybean oil is used in processed foods. Meanwhile, the marketers of the junk food made from these crops receive tax write-offs for the costs of promoting their wares. Total agricultural subsidies in 2009 were around $16 billion, which would pay for a great many of the ideas that follow.

The tax write-offs given to marketers of salty, sugar-laden, fried snack products help to create “food deserts” in our inner cities. These products are then sold on shelves at artificially low prices. When low-income consumers are faced with buying a piece of fruit or some vegetables, they choose the unhealthy, preprocessed “snacks” based mainly upon price. This unfair market environment is being propagated by large multinational conglomerates whose only concern is for their shareholders. By ending these subsidies, we as a nation can begin to level the playing field and give nutritious, healthful and real foods a chance against the convenience and seductive nature of heavily processed snack products.

  • Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption. Small farmers and their employees need to make living wages. Markets — from super- to farmers’ — should be supported when they open in so-called food deserts and when they focus on real food rather than junk food. And, of course, we should immediately increase subsidies for school lunches so we can feed our youth more real food.

Bittman suggests here that we shift these subsidies to those who are producers of “actual food”. I view this as an interim policy strategy because, in my view, subsidies create unnatural market conditions, subject entrepreneurs to becoming dependent upon government money and therefore thwart innovation. That said, those urban farmers now struggling to make a living could, with moderate subsidies, follow their hearts and create thriving small business urban farms within their communities.

  • Break up the U.S. Department of Agriculture and empower the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, the U.S.D.A. counts among its missions both expanding markets for agricultural products (like corn and soy!) and providing nutrition education. These goals are at odds with each other; you can’t sell garbage while telling people not to eat it, and we need an agency devoted to encouraging sane eating. Meanwhile, the F.D.A. must be given expanded powers to ensure the safety of our food supply. (Food-related deaths are far more common than those resulting from terrorism, yet the F.D.A.’s budget is about one-fifteenth that of Homeland Security.)

In January of 2009, a letter was sent to the highest levels of government to expose corruption by top FDA official’s whose violation of laws and altering of scientific finding has caused a shakeup within the agency. The FDA currently regulates over $1 trillion of consumer goods (that accounts for $0.25 of every dollar spent in the U.S.). The letter was written by scientists and physicians in the FDA! This agency is broken and needs to have the corrupt officials removed and replaced with honest, forward thinking individuals up to the task of creating sound, sustainable and safe policies to protect the health of ourselves and our children.

  • Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations and encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. The concentrated system degrades the environment, directly and indirectly, while torturing animals and producing tainted meat, poultry, eggs, and, more recently, fish. Sustainable methods of producing meat for consumption exist. At the same time, we must educate and encourage Americans to eat differently. It’s difficult to find a principled nutrition and health expert who doesn’t believe that a largely plant-based diet is the way to promote health and attack chronic diseases, which are now bigger killers, worldwide, than communicable ones. Furthermore, plant-based diets ease environmental stress, including global warming.

Anyone who has watched Food, Inc. or read Diet for a New America knows that the way animals are raised for mass meat production is a horrible sight to see. This tragedy plays itself out over and over across the globe. Other nations have taken our approach to meat production on a massive scale to keep pace. Destruction of the Amazon, forested lands and other areas not suitable for cattle grazing have been clear cut, making way for intensive and unsustainable animal husbandry productions in their place. What is needed is a reversal of this trend and a move back toward non-centralized, localized farming operations. Sustainability is paramount. And as our petroleum reserves dwindle, the price at the pump will inevitably rise making the cost of transporting, storing and cooling our food production ever more expensive.

  • Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (Someday soon, I’ll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.) When people cook their own food, they make better choices. When families eat together, they’re more stable. We should provide food education for children (a new form of home ec, anyone?), cooking classes for anyone who wants them and even cooking assistance for those unable to cook for themselves.

I know of many organizations that promote communal cooking here in the Bay Area. Frugal Foodies for instance gathers, people of all culinary experience together once a week to explore building community through meal preparation and eating as a group. Three Stone Hearth is a worker owned cooperative in West Berkeley. TSH gives cooking classes to the public and offers internships that teach people a variety of cooking techniques in a professional kitchen. For those too busy to cook, they provide a healthy menu of fully cooked foods for people to buy.

  • Tax the marketing and sale of unhealthful foods. Another budget booster. This isn’t nanny-state paternalism but an accepted role of government: public health. If you support seat-belt, tobacco and alcohol laws, sewer systems and traffic lights, you should support legislation curbing the relentless marketing of soda and other foods that are hazardous to our health — including the sacred cheeseburger and fries.
  • Reduce waste and encourage recycling. The environmental stress incurred by unabsorbed fertilizer cannot be overestimated, and has caused, for example, a 6,000-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that is probably more damaging than the BP oil spill. And some estimates indicate that we waste half the food that’s grown. A careful look at ways to reduce waste and promote recycling is in order.

In commercial farming operations phosphates in chemical fertilizers can run off contaminating water supplies which can cause “algal blooms”. All available oxygen is absorbed by the reproduction of the algae suffocating living organisms like fish. Organic farms apply compost to the fields from vegetable matter, worm castings, chicken manure, etc. This process forms a rich topsoil matrix resistant to erosion.

  • Mandate truth in labeling. Nearly everything labeled “healthy” or “natural” is not. It’s probably too much to ask that “vitamin water” be called “sugar water with vitamins,” but that’s precisely what real truth in labeling would mean.

I believe rating systems need to be simple and easy to read. I agree with Bittman’s point here but, suggest a simpler approach. Foods could have labels telling the consumer, on a scale from 1 – 3 how healthy the food is; organic kale would get a 3, non-organic corn would get a 1. I think junk foods need labeling similar to that of alcohol and tobacco products warning the consumer of the potential effects of consumption. For example, a label for deep fried pig shin could read; “Warning: eating fried foods can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Not recommended for children under 12 and women who are pregnant and/or lactating.”

  • Reinvest in research geared toward leading a global movement in sustainable agriculture, combining technology and tradition to create a new and meaningful Green Revolution. I’ll expand on these issues (and more) in the future, but the essential message is this: food and everything surrounding it is a crucial matter of personal and public health, of national and global security. At stake is not only the health of humans but that of the earth.

A comprehensive food policy which values the soil as a living organism and the people who work the land is necessary if we are to provide a sustainable system of feeding the population into the future. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, “U.S. Fertilizer Use and Price” the average rate of soil erosion is over 7 tons of  soil per acre per year. This is a devastating loss of a natural resource that can be prevented. Likewise, we need to retain and attract talented people whose knowledge of sustainable farming practices are vital to our future farms.

Mark Bittman’s original column appeared in print on February 2, 2011.

Sources:
Scientists’ Letter Claiming FDA Corruption Is Authentic, by Heidi Stevenson, 16 March 2010

Novella Carpenter Speaks on Berkeley Campus


Just recently saw Novella Carpenter speak in Berkeley, California. Her slideshow of pictures were humorous and so inspiring.

The one of her standing next to her tow big pigs with just flip flops on proved to me that she is committed to urban farming, if not a bit nutz.

I’ve just started reading her latest book entitled, Farm City. Her life reads more like a woman on the farm; one that you would expect from a person living in the rural area of the U.S. like Nebraska, Oklahoma or Kansas.

If you want to buy her book, here’s the link to Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Farm-City-Education-Urban-Farmer/dp/1594202214/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1271100130&sr=8-2-fkmr0

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