EarthMatters
     
 
Food
Program Notes


Although the industrial food revolution of the last century promised abundance and an end to hunger, in many ways it has delivered the opposite.  Over 800 million people (around the world) go hungry every year, and 16,000 children die every day from needless hunger.

The industrial farming revolution of the last century – particularly the introduction of chemical pesticides, monocultural production, and confined animal feedlots – has made farming one of the world’s worst polluters.  In the United States alone, the country is blanketed with billions of pounds of pesticides.

Industrial farming also has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s biggest contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions.  Our petroleum-dependent farming eats up oil faster than you can say “Gulf War”, using ten calories of fossil fuel for every calorie we produce. 

Even worse, as industrial farming pollutes our environment, it also pollutes our bodies.  Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on exposure to environmental chemicals indicates that most of us walk around with a significant “body burden” of chemical residues, many from farm chemicals.

Devouring the fast food, junk food and fake food that saturates our supermarkets and restaurants has led to a host of health problems as well, from obesity-related diseases that lead to premature death, to certain cancers and neurological and hormonal problems that are associated with the chemicals used in our fields.  Our fake-food culture is also largely to blame for nearly 76 million foodborne illnesses, which lead to more than five thousand deaths every year.

Yes, the twentieth century may have seen the fastest revolution in our dietary and agricultural practices in human history, but around the world, citizens (eaters, farmers, policy makers, researchers, and health advocates) have also fostered a different sort of revolution in food and farming, one that holds real hope.  Indeed, this new century may see a revolution in food equally startling to the twentieth century’s – only this one will be much better for us.  Oh, and it will taste much better too.

 

Source: ‘World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century’, Abrams, New York (2005), Edited by Alex Steffen.

   

Copyright Lawson Hunter & Associates.
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