Thursday, May 15, 2014

Food Fight

Here are a  few articles on the clusterfuck that is the world’s food system:

10 things you need to know about the global food system (The Guardian)
1. The most important thing to know about the global food system is also one of the least appreciated: there is enough food for everyone on the planet to live a healthy and nutritious life. 

2. The price of food is wildly volatile. In 2008, the United Nations Food Price Index almost doubled in less than a year before crashing in 2009 
3. One third of food is wasted. 
4. Not all food grown on our planet is being used as food. For instance, about 40% of the corn grown in the US is being turned into first-generation biofuels, such as ethanol. 
5. The landscape of who owns our food system is changing. Since 2008, more than 56m hectares of land (the size of France) has been purchased in the global south by international companies.  
6. A very small number of corporations control the vast majority of the world's food trade: four companies produce more than 58% of the world's seeds; four global firms account for 97% of poultry genetics research and development; yet another four produce more than 60% of the agrochemicals farmers use. 
7. While we all know that people are eating more junk food, dairy and meat, we don't always appreciate that one of the causes of this rise is US governmental farm policy. In the early 1970s, the US started paying maize farmers to produce grain, resulting in overproduction. Between 1995 and 2012 maize subsidies totalled more than $84bn (£49.8bn). Enterprising farmers learned they could feed this extra to cows, pigs and chickens. This drove down the price of these produces and created the conditions for intensive livestock production. It was also discovered around this time that the sugars from corn could be removed and turned into high-fructose corn syrup. This has given rise to the junk food industry. 
8. Agriculture is responsible for 75% of deforestation worldwide, and is the largest contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. We're also rapidly losing marine food sources. In 2010, 53% of fisheries were fully exploited, 28% were overexploited, 3% were depleted, and 1% were recovering from depletion. 
9. While there may be enough food for everyone on the planet today, this may not be the case in the future. 
10. Recent studies suggest that the farmers of this world will have to produce 50% more food by 2050 in order to meet global population growth. This will have to be done against a backdrop of rising energy prices and climate change that is set to make food harder and more expensive to produce.
So that’s the present, here’s the future, thanks to climate change:

Our Alarming Food Future, Explained in 7 Charts (Mother Jones):
1. Iowa is hemorrhaging soil.

2. But dry spells are on the rise, too.

3. Crop yields will decline.

4. California, our vegetable basket, will be strapped for irrigation water.

5. And even if they can get enough water, heat stress and other climate effects will likely knock down yields of some crops.

6. Wine grapes, nuts, and other perennial California crops will be hard-hit.
And see this: Your Food Is Poisoning You (Outside)

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