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Beyond Food System Sustainability Martha Rosemeyer Farm to Table May 27 2003

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Beyond Food System Sustainability. Martha Rosemeyer Farm to Table May 27 2003. Outline. I. Sociological Effects of Green Revolution II. The feasibility of subsistence III. On beyond agricultural sustainability. The Food System. Earthfriends 1995 “The Whole Story of Food”. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Beyond Food System SustainabilityMartha RosemeyerFarm to TableMay 27 2003

  • OutlineI. Sociological Effects of Green RevolutionII. The feasibility of subsistenceIII. On beyond agricultural sustainability

  • The Food System

    Earthfriends 1995The Whole Story of Food

  • What is sustainability as applied to agriculture or the food system?How is sustainability defined?Economically viable Ecologically soundSocially justAn integrated system including:natural resources: land/soil, crops, animals, water, climateSocioeconomic resources: capital, labor and mgmtFood system: Involves not only the growing but processing and distribution of food

  • In 1970s, social impact of green revolution was reported in Punjab, India, small farmers loose their land, credit becomes an issueIn the US tremendous loss of farmers from 30% to 1% of the population in 70 yearsI. Sociological effects of modern agriculture and Green Revolution


  • Current corporate consolidation, vertical & horizontal integrationVertical: One company, or suite of companies owns the entire production chainHorizontal: owns many different companies that do the same operationHeffernan 1999. Food Circles Website

  • Consolidation in seed companies

    Hendrickson 2002. Food Circles Website5 companies own 75% of vegetable seed market; 10 companiesown 30% of all commercial seed (RAFI July 99)

  • Consolidation in grains

    Hendrickson 2002. Food Circles Website

  • Consolidation of meat processors2001Hendrickson 2002Food Circles Website

  • Consolidation of organic industrymay be greater than in conventionalFewer players at corporate levelCascadian now General MillsMuir Glen owned by Phillip MorrisHorizon vs. Organic Valley for milk and cheeseFamily farmers cant make it at the wholesale level-- mainly staying in business through direct marketing

  • Increasing power of retailers

    Hendrickson 2002Food Circles WebsiteProcessors and

  • Retail consolidationHendrickson, M. and W. Heffernan. Food Circles website

  • Current problems: The farmer squeezed between inputs and retailerGliessman, S. 1998. Agroecology

  • For consumers

  • Silver lining?Consumers may have more of an impact

  • Policy does not favor small farmer because of supposed inefficiencyEarl Butz Get big or get outLarger farmers appear to be more efficient because externalities are not taken into account (like environmental pollution) but they are able to take advantage of government incentives and subsidies ($30 B in US) more than small farmer

  • In addition to the Farm Bill: Nebraska and Counties in PAHave limited corporately owned farming to various extents through legislationJan 2003: Coalition of 127 groups delivered a letter to Congress calling for the restoration of competition and fairness to livestock markets (Feb 03 newsletter of the Center for Rural Affairs:

  • II. Is subsistence an alternative?How much is being produced in backyard gardens?How much can be produced?Example of Victory Gardens16th century war gardensWWI and WWIICanada The Garden Warriors of 1942US data

  • Canada example: At first government opposed backyard gardeningCanada: Home Vegetable Gardening, 1942 Unless conditions are favourable, a vegetable garden should not be undertaken. We cannot afford to waste fertilizer, equipment and energy unless location and soil are suitable and the gardener is determined to follow through to harvest and use.

  • Victory Garden Brigade 1942History: WWI Provincial govt passes The Greater Food Production ActMunicipalities able to take possession of vacant lots for cultivation purposes without paying compensation to the ownerShortage of vegetables due to war and Japanese interment1943 change in govt, issue The Wartime Garden

  • Victory Gardens are a successVG the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver209,200 gardens, 1425 in city-owned lotsProduced 550 lbs of vegetables each1/7 were city gardeners1943 15% more than in 1941 and 24% in 1940In 1943 in Vancouver 52,000 gardens with food = $4 million USD at that time

  • USDA Published Public Service bookletsTopics included soil health, how to plant, when to plant, how to tend plants, pest identification and what to plantGardening was not a drudgery but a pastime and a national duty

  • Home processing of foodsA kitchen of WWICanning supplies

  • Potential of Urban Gardening London: 14% grow food which meets 18% of Londons daily nutritional needsMoscow families engaged in food production: 1970 20%, 1990 65%Havana- 90% vegetables consumedUNEP estimates 15% of food worldwide is grown in cities and this could be expanded Yields 13x more than rural farmsBut what are the exact figures?

  • No unemployment insurance can be compared to an alliance between a man and a plot of landHenry Ford

  • III. Sustainability and BeyondSustainable Living

    Agricultureand FoodConstructionDesignUrban and Regional PlanningProductdesignEnergy

  • BeyondSustainable Living

    Eco Ag -PermacultureGreen buildingPlanning-eco-villages-co-housingProductdesign-cradle to cradle-the natural stepRenewableEnergy-automobiles-energy sources

  • Cradle to Cradle idea: materials in one cycle should not be mixed with the otherBiological cycle, e.g. compostTechnical Cycle, e.g. heavy metals in industry

  • Further readingMcDonough and Braungart. 2002. Cradle to Cradle, North Point PressFor ecovillages: