A brief few weeks ago, I found an article on Yahoo and took a link to it, which lays out one of the trillion dollar problems we will face in coming years, the fact that all this change is accelerating and predicted to be much worse than initially thought.
So no, I'm not a fan.
Here's some info on organic farming that's interesting to me. Why? Because I've started a facebook group to try and keep a lot of that sort of thing local, where it costs less. Why? Because the new "orgwashing" and "localwashing" advertising is yet another example of the Big Bucks Companies trying to squeeze another billion dollars out of the world without being willing to foot the resulting bill.
One of the aims of that group (and others like it - please feel free to start one for your region) is to share gardening tips, to let other people know that I have a few spare buckets of tomatoes so they don't go to *insert supermarket chain name here* and buy tomatoes that were grown in some place where entire crops of tomatoes that "aren't quite red looking enough" are just dumped to rot on the ground... Look over that slideshow, because it's sobering news.
Add up the cost of dumping that entire crop of tomatoes, go on, I dare you.
- Ploughing under an entire local ecosystem for the fields in the first place, that's one loss. Okay you can amortise that over the life of the farm so this crop is probably 1/100th of the total cost to the ecosystem - but it's permanent, so really the cost is uncountable. All that local flora and fauna are irrevocably and finally gone...
- Oh yes - the fossil fuel and waste used to create the field. Again, that is amortised over the life of the field, but then there's also
- The cost of preparing and ploughing the ground. That's seasonal, one lot per crop.
- Seeding. Takes another trip around with the tractor.
- Watering that crop. Most vegetable crops, in order to be commercially viable, involve pumping water to them at some stage during their growth. that takes energy, and uses up groundwater.
- Fertilisers. Always, they use fertilisers to speed the growth, induce larger heavier bigger better faster more crops. See the next item for problems inherent in this, they are the same for fertilisers as for pesticides.
- And Pesticides. Aside from the obvious cost to the local environment of using chemicals to kill off pests that are only there because you've got acres upon acres of tomato plants and the pests are seeing Tomato Pest Good Life City, besides the cost of that chemical material running off and getting into the water table and poisoning other animals down the line either directly or indirectly, there's another cost.
- All those chemicals had to be shipped to the farm. Fuel was burned.
- Oh yeah, and they had to be manufactured. Raw materials shipped to a factory, toxic byproducts dumped somewhere else, and more fuel used to process it.
- Then it has to be dug back into the ground. Because of some perceived flaw or blemish... More fuel, more pollution.
And if the crop passes muster, then it has to be transported to *insert supermarket chain name here* warehouses, then from those to the stores. Sometimes, that can mean flying from Argentina to Australia.
So to my mind growing it locally and swapping it, selling it at the Farmer's Market, and making sure I use natural pest control and fertilisers is important. I'm hoping that more groups such as mine are formed, everywhere, and that they each take a sizeable percentage of the business away from *insert supermarket chain name here* and others like it, so that those factory farms become a thing of the past, fertiliser and pesticide sales dry up, and people realise that there is going to be the odd tomato with a bite blemish on it, tough tits, harden the heck up...
Oh - while I'm at fussy eaters - you can't afford to be fussy. I was talking to a colleague a few years back, and we were discussing another colleague, specifically, his eating habits. He didn't like most vegetables, so he avoided them, tolerated bread and cheese but didn't like the taste of milk so only had the odd drop of milk in his coffees, and doted on sugar-laced fizzy drinks. The guy didn't drink aside from the odd social drink, yet he was perpetually broke. I guess having to live on bacon - oh yeah, eggs - chops, steaks, sausages, the internal organs, (he loved lambs fry) and burgers does take its toll on your pocketbook, and definitely this guy had a foodprint the size of a small island nation.
"OMG" my friend said of this bloke, "how the heck has he survived on a diet of almost exclusively meat? I mean, it lacks dozens of essential enzymes, there are whole groups of nutrients he's missing out on, how can that kind of a diet be healthy?" I couldn't help but be amused though, at how very blind a vegan could be to the complementary "lacks and missings" in his own diet...
There's energy levels, too. If your diet is lacking in nutrients, then you will not have as good an energy level as someone with a balanced diet. I don't care which side of the carnivore/vegetarian divide you favour, if you're not eating right your body isn't working right. There's a reason why the percentage of omnivores is higher among high-energy-requirement jobs than among the more sedentary office workers.
Again, it boils down to hardening the heck up, realising that the world can't afford to indulge your distaste of broccoli, and getting on with it. So please do it, start a victory garden, start a local group, and put some of your time and effort daily into fixing the crisis rather than leaving it up to "them" to come along and fix it.