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Era of cheap food is over !  RSS feed

 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/sep/02/era-of-cheap-food-over
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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The article points out the fallacy of our idiotic policy of 'trading food for fuel' (aka biofuel).

It also brings up a rather disturbing picture of increasing meat supply:
The report also highlighted what is known as "fast food" from animal cells, a process by which scientists "create artificial meat by delivering an electric charge to the animal muscle cells in a mixture of amino acids, which causes the cells to multiply".


As if GMO crops weren't bad enough, now they are fucking with our meat!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Have you ever felt alone in thinking about something?
I do...

I also think that the era of cheap food might be over, but for other reasons...
And I think this is GOOD that cheap food might be over!
But also for other reasons...

I quote from the article:

It is not just that the world's population is rising by 1% a year. ... it is that consumers in the big developing countries have developed an appetite for higher protein western diets. ...
There will be an extra 70m mouths to feed every year, which will result in a 50% increase in demand for food by 2030. Meanwhile, the amount of arable land per person will continue its long-run downward trend.


The two obvious ways of limiting demand are:
to check population growth
or to change dietary habits so that meat consumption is reduced. Neither is going to be easy to achieve.


Man used to eat a lot of meat, long time ago.
Grain agriculture allowed population to increase by producing a lot of calories.
Now man want more meat, but the population does not make it possible!

ok for the 2 ways to limit demand, as checking population growth will allow the desired meat for more people.
ok for reducing meat consumption, if you tell me how long it will work!
How long will it be postponed?
Reduce meat consumption and one day even grains will fail to feed everybody.
So, what do you think about "The two obvious ways of limiting demand"?
there is only one, that has always been left to wars and famine, reducing population growth.
And the second way is only valid as a transition.
And I do not even know if it is, because of the risk that people refuse to see the 1st way, leaving one thing more to deal with to their grand children!
So, I agree for vegetarianism or little meat consumption as a personal choice, a health choice, but not as a social choice.
Anyway, I thank the author for at least mentioning the possibility of checking population growth, as it is a very difficult topic.
I, as you do for sure, hate the former ways that made population decrease, that is war, diseases and famine.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Then, about cheap foods, here is what I tend to guess...
Food is not expensive enough for farmers to live on it with little land.
There are less and less farmers.
Farmers need a lot of land.
So they need machines, they need to employ people that are eventually underpaid.
The loss would be so important that they preferred to put pesticides.

I want food to be expansive enough so that more people grow and make a living out of it!
I want food to be expansive so that people decide to have their own garden!
I want less intermediates, less traders that make a better living than farmers.

then, another idea I have...
Food was made cheap so that people have money to spend on something else, and so did develop very well industry.
You need hands for the jobs, so you need that some farmers stop growing and migrate to cities.
Governments help agriculture, so that prices can be maintained low enough for people to go on consuming...

Then, all this leads to this fact: less people live of the land, land is sold, and farm land you cannot build on has the lowest price.
Food producing land concentrates little by little in less and less hands.

Then I read 2 things, some time ago, and both make me more afraid of something...
1) I read that some people were buying cheap land in eastern Europe (Poland etc), for producing "industrial organic food", the one that is sold a little cheaper in supermarkets. This is no more fully ecological, as they take some intake from elsewhere in nature, and put it in the land instead of chemicals. It is chemical free in the plate, but this is not sustainable.
2) In Africa, land is bought as an investment, instead of investing in industry... Why should land be a better investment, when farmers stop farming? If they were buying only farm land... No, also communal land, where people used to collect medicine, fruits, wood... and where their animal pasture.

Well, what's about the rule of offer and demand?
Do you think food demand can stop? haha...
How could it happen on earth that it was not farmers who had the power?
I cannot study all the history to search for the precise answer.
I just know one rule that makes me feel that when more than 50% of the best lands will belong to a sufficient small number of rich people, then the rule will change...
You want to eat? You must pay the price.
And cheap food will be over.

Check out if really some rich people are investing in Agri-lands, and you will smell some uncomfortable smoke....
These are just GUESSES I make, but it is really plausible.
What I do not mean is that there was a big plan about it, I believe it just comes by itself with the logic of the western world.
And I believe some people got the idea that it could be safe to own land, even a lot of land, and a better idea than industrial plants.
And that is terrible to see how many people have no land, and work hard to save money and one day buy their land.
I also know a little about the big landlords of south america, and about land-less farmers.

So, I am very surprised to read such articles that do not go as far.
I am surprised to read about this focus on big companies having a monopole on seeds and the use of hybrids and GMO that limit our liberty to produce food, and nothing about land ownership by "landlords" that get land as you get a factory for producing goods.
i am surprised to read more about seeds concentrating in a few hands than lands concentrating in less and less hands.
Sure, seeds are in less hands than land!
So, one problem is more obvious...
But who knows the percentages and numbers that will come to be a danger?
I do not, but I think there is a problem there, and it started with food being to cheap for people to make a living...
and I think we are co-guilty because we were very happy to be able to buy many nice, useful and comfort bringing goods!
Who but the seller is going to say that he wishes food to be more expansive?
Of course I mean the basic food before any process.
 
Arrow Durfee
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John Polk wrote:The article points out the fallacy of our idiotic policy of 'trading food for fuel' (aka biofuel).

It also brings up a rather disturbing picture of increasing meat supply:
The report also highlighted what is known as "fast food" from animal cells, a process by which scientists "create artificial meat by delivering an electric charge to the animal muscle cells in a mixture of amino acids, which causes the cells to multiply".


As if GMO crops weren't bad enough, now they are fucking with our meat!


They have always been screwing with our meat... at least for the last 50 years.
 
Ilex Gardener
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John Polk wrote:The article points out the fallacy of our idiotic policy of 'trading food for fuel' (aka biofuel).


For the last decade the High Fructose industry has been pushing the false notion that corn based ethanol removes corn from the food supply.

1) the corn used for ethanol is field and dent corn, used as fodder for animals. Its not the sweet corn that is bound for food markets.

2) Ethanol is created when yeast eat sugar and produce alcohols. Yeast eats simple sugars, it does not break down cellulose, it does not break down complex carbohydrates or proteins.

3) When you make ethanol, you cook the corn, remove the sugars, and then dry the corn so you can

SELL it as FOOD for LIVESTOCK.

4) Corn that has been processed through an ethanol plant is higher in protein/pound and easier for animals to digest.

5) The real culprits in the rising price of corn are:

a) The High Fructose Corn Syrup industry, which does use sweet corn that would otherwise end up on your table, turning TONS x 10 of corn into gallons of HFC syrup.

b) The steadily increasing price the gas. Corn, with the exception of mirai, being exclusively planted, cultivated and picked mechanically is a very fuel intensive crop. Not to mention the fact that most mechanical planters are very large gas guzzlers; the International Harvester, the industry standard and workhorse, gets less than 3 miles/gallon.

c) The most insidious reason resides halfway round the world in the royal house of Saud, who have been buying up both corn futures and short options on corn.

When you buy futures you're telling the stock market that you believe that the price is going to rise and you want to buy it cheaper early. In agriculture, buying early usually means you think the crop will fail this year, therefore increasing the price by cutting supply.

When you buy short options, you're literally betting with a broker that the futures price is going to drop due the a failure in the industry, and that you will be able to buy futures cheaper later.

In agriculture, buying short usually means you believe that crop will fail this year.

Both these figures are very high now, making to corn industry seem VERY unstable, increasing the amount of speculators who will also follow the big players and want to make profit.

Even when we have good years, the amount of speculators has caused an unnaturally high price.

In bad years like this one, the people who bought short options profit, further increasing the price of an already catastrophically wounded industry.

But the worst part of these figures is that when they are as high as they are now, bankers are very unlikely to give out loans.

The only loans farmers can get now, most of whom depend on loans to buy seed, fuel for the season, and enough that they can live on till the first harvest, are hard to get and have unnaturally high interest rates, increasing the costs to the farmer and plum putting many out of business.

Not to mention how Monsanto buffalo farmers into buying their genetics, which I'm sure most of you are aware of and my hands are too tired to go into their despicable practices.

I hope this was concise, feel free to ask me any questions if you want to elaborate on something I didn't fully explain.

 
Peter DeJay
Posts: 104
Location: Southern Oregon
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I agree with the above poster, especially about the symbiotic relationship with producing ethanol and high protien feed for livestock, especially since corn is not what cows should eat.

I also wanted to mention that the idea of food scarcity it one of the most perverse ways to manipulate people, as evidenced by the fact that even us permie minded people can fall into the "overpopulation food scarcity" craze. Something like 40% of food produced in the US is wasted, from farm wastes all the way up to packaging and production, food is wasted along the way. Exactly because the true cost of food is hidden through big agri business getting government subsidies, what appears as cheap food is really just hidden. I look forward to the demise of "cheap" "food" that is unnecessarily wasteful.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I believe that a flaw in your argument is that the sweet corn we buy in the market is a tiny portion of the corn we consume. Corn meals are mostly field/dent corn. This is what we mostly consume. Corn oil, tortillas, corn bread, corn flakes, polenta, etc. etc.

You also brought up a true, but disturbing fact: farmer's loans. Something is terribly wrong with the picture. Why should a farmer with 1,600 acres of corn in the field need to take out a loan to buy fuel to harvest it, and buy next year's seed? This is certainly not sustainable if his margins are so low that he cannot afford to harvest his crop without a loan.

We are destroying 1,000's of acres of soil with chemicals so that we may substitute a few barrels of petroleum with ethanol. Some day, we will need that land to fill empty bellies. Brazil altered their climate forever by clear cutting 1,000's of acres of rain forest so they could convert to being 100% ethanol. In the long run, ethanol is not an ecological solution, rather, it is an ecological disaster waiting to happen.

Our wholesale reliance on cereals/grains will eventually destroy our land. I have read that since Europeans first colonized this land, one third of our top soil has washed to the seas. Most of what remains is lifeless dirt, not soil. It requires chemical inputs to support plant life. Poor farming practices coupled with greed. Raising almost all of our livestock on cereal/grain compounds the problem.



 
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