We live with two food supplies. One that is focused on eating close to the earth with great attention to stewardship of and working with the land. The second is a food supply that is generated to produce a plentiful and cheap food supply. GMO and GE foods are just one component of the second system. This Tuesday Californians will decide whether they will be able to identify foods that contain GMO or GE ingredients. The core questions remain: What kind of food do you want to eat? What can you afford to eat?
Yesterday I used one sentence from an article in the LA Times for the quote of the day on my facebook page: “The environment is a factor: the air, the poisoned foods.” The story wrote about “rich” Chinese that want to move out of the country. One point was that China is a great place to make money, but not to live. I think the condition of the environment is intimately tied the capacity for people to make money and it is a harsh reality check.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE FROM CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURE
Our conventional domestic food supply suffers from the same truth. There is extensive evidence of disease from the overabundance of highly processed and adulterated foods products manufactured from a subsidized food supply. We produce about twice as many calories as we “need” in the US and waste about a third of them. In the meantime USDA data tells us food availability changed dramatically between 1970 and 2000 with about 1500 calories coming from added fats, refined starches and sugars. The availability of fruits, vegetables, and dairy remained flat during that same time period. Meat, nuts and seeds increased slightly–most likely because people were finally given permission to eat the healthy fats found in nuts and seeds. Consumption of almonds, walnuts and their cousins have spiked ever since.
The environmental destruction from the conventional food system is glaring: dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico due to fertilizer runoff; compromised soil ecology from extensive use of pesticides and insecticides; bee colony collapse due to the same; loss of biodiversity at all levels, from insects and nematodes to higher life forms; bio-accumulation of endocrine disrupters from the same that are linked to glucose intolerance, thyroid dysfunction, infertility, cancer and more–just to name those that come to mind.
The good news is that there are many people working to try to bridge the gap. A study out of Iowa State University written about by Mark Bittman in his NYT blog underscores this point http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/a-simple-fix-for-food/. The work at Marsden Farm proves that conventional farming can wean itself off of the expensive and damaging chemicals that compromise our soils, our health and the entire ecosystem. It will be interesting to see who is ready, willing and able to help all of us eat closer to the earth.