Published in 2006, this well-researched, fact-filled book explores modern agri-business: how the rise of cheap inputs (pesticide, fertilizer, fuel), the advent of transgenic seeds, and the increasing domination of grocery sales by a handful of worldwide corporations has created massive farms oriented to producing the most calories for the lowest cost. This food production model ignores external costs, such as soil erosion, chemical run-off and animal sewage. And after decades of increasing yields, the agri-business approach to food production seems to be reaching its practical limitations, just at a time when the world’s population is expected to increase to somewhere around 10 billion people by the middle of this century. Eventually, we will have to change the way we feed the world, but with an input sector largely controlled by three companies, a grain sector controlled by five companies and a grocery industry dominated by five chains (and increasingly by just one), it ssems we may have little choice but to wait for some sort of crisis: a fuel price spike, climate-change induced water constraints or pest infestations, or something like an avian flu outbreak.
In the meantime, as individuals, we can do the following:
- read, research and learn about the modern food production system
- reduce our meat consumption (and choose beef least often, pork less often, chicken and fish more often (but not fish where the fishery has collapsed or is in jeopardy)
- as we’re unpacking our groceries, ask ourselves which things we could grow ourselves, and then try to grow some of them
- practice good emergency preparedness
If you find another great book related to this topic, please be sure to post a comment so that I can try to sign it out from the library.