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Understanding the Depths of our Problem      

The High Cost of Cheap Food

WOW, Right on Target! How Misguided Economic Policies Relate to Obesity - and lots of other problems!

Biblical Basics on Justice  from Bread for the World

Alternatives to misguided cheap food farm policies - Fair Trade, not Free Trade!
     The Key to Prosperity
    Free Trade
    African Agriculture - A Glaring Example
    Norm Economics
- A Voice for Change  
   
Poverty & Globalization  
        Two myths that keep the world poor 
       Ending Poverty  
    Seven Words That Can Change The World  

    Sustainable Agriculture Can Feed the World!
    Wal-Martization’ - Destruction to the Global Community  
A New Vision 

   
The Politics and Economics of Food 
by Sally Fallon   
    Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture    

Fair Trade - Use your dollars to bring justice to third-world countries
    Sources of Fair Trade Goods  
    Alternatives to spending money on "STUFF"  
    Simple Living       
    Ending Hunger 

Food Security - Justice for our Farmers
    Community Food Security Coalition    
     Food First - Institute for Food & Development Policy   
    National Family Farm Coalition

More on Political Issues  

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* "Cheap" Beef ???              Cutting the cost of quality food

      Diet and Health. What would be the true price of a diet made in part of grain fed beef, if the related costs of healthcare for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity were factored in?
      Environment. What would be the true price of beef, if nutrients were not withdrawn from the fields of grain and hay and concentrated in confinement operations? If our communities did not have to pay for cleaning up ground water, recreational sites and common water ways from leaching, spills and run offs beyond the environments capacity to recover naturally? Animal welfare. What would be the true price of beef, if cattle were given enough space and no longer stressed or lying in their own waste?
      Economy. What would be the true price of beef, if the government were not subsidizing cheap corn? What if wear-and-tear to our road system where lessened by having fewer long-haul trucks to deliver all of the feed and food from distant locations?
      Society. What would be the true price of beef, if workers in mega processing plants were given a living wage and better working conditions?
      We do indeed "vote" with our dollars. When we purchase meats from our local grocer - run through this failed paradigm-- we are in essence supporting it.

Found once at the website of Thundering Hooves Ranch
 which is now closed. This article from the Seattle Local Foods blog
illustrates why we really need to support local farmers.  

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  * The High Cost of Cheap Food
by John Ikerd
" "[E]ating is a moral act.".... The food we choose has an impact upon the lives of other people, upon the earth, and upon the future of humanity. When all of the costs are counted, we simply cannot afford the high costs of cheap food. "  
More on Sustainable Agriculture by John Ikerd

I'm Hatin' It - How the feds make bad-for-you food cheaper than healthful fare
by Tom Philpott

http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/02/22/philpott/

Is Organic Food Worth the Price?
By Gene Franks
http://www.purewatergazette.net/value.htm

Cheap Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200611/cheapfood.asp 

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WOW, Right on Target! The Fallacy of Cheap Food Policy and how it relates to obesity

This article cuts new ground in our understanding of obesity, but relies on some old, but poorly understood arguments against a cheap food policy. I hope you take time to read it.


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October 12, 2003
By MICHAEL POLLAN
The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity  (alternate copy of article)
A generation of U.S. farm policy promoting overproduction of corn has made us fat - and made Big Food happy.

"We have been hearing a lot lately about how our agricultural policy is undermining our foreign-policy goals, forcing third-world farmers to compete against a flood tide of cheap American grain. Well, those same policies are also undermining our public-health goals by loosing a tide of cheap calories at home. "

"This article features an exploration of two major economic themes, the Roosevelt New Deal “nonrecourse” loan plan, which was in effect until the 1970’s, and then the ongoing Nixon-era direct subsidy plan, which currently costs American taxpayers $19 billion per year.

"Before you come down on either side of the economic issue, I would advise you to read this article very carefully, as the author goes to great length to show the readers where traditional textbook economics do not necessarily work out in the context of farming.

"Overall I think that this is a very thorough and well-researched article and perhaps it can spur some debate."

Here's a sequel dated August 15, 2005 

Part 1 King Corn http://www.newfarm.org/features/2005/0805/pollen/index.shtml

Part 2 Supersize me organically  http://www.newfarm.org/features/2005/0805/pollen/index2.shtml

 

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Alternatives to misguided farm policies - Fair Trade, not Free Trade!
Our unwillingness to pay farmers a fair price for their production and opt instead for a cheap food policy has implications far beyond obesity in this country and poverty in this and third-world countries, but also contributes to our high taxes, high rates of debt, and mushrooming "health" care (illness) costs through the commercialization of our food supply. We need to understand this complex issue! Free trade will not solve our farm problem! The following articles elaborate on this theme.  Menu    To participate in the Fair Trade movement click here.

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THE KEY TO PROSPERITY (Published in Dec. 1944, just as pertinent today!)

[This site is unavailable as of 7/05. Some of the same info is in the online book 
The Nature of Wealth
at http://www.normbook.homestead.com/  
The American Monetary Institute
http://www.monetary.org/ also has similar themes]

"Raw-material income, most potently that of agriculture, is the prime mover in our national economy.... Raw materials income is the start of the cycle of exchange. It is the new wealth annually created by production. All other money, involved in the processes of manufacture and delivery to consumers, is money temporarily borrowed from the store of capital already in existence and is returned to it when the finished goods are sold....

"By 1925-29, our national efficiency had risen so that a much smaller part of our population was required to produce the raw materials and the turn[-over of raw material dollars] for the five-year period was 2.9. It is now [Dec. 1944] up to a fivefold turn, with only one-fifth of our working population engaged in raw material production. The other four-fifths of our population are now enabled to earn their living by taking the raw materials to the factories, processing them, distributing the finished goods, and performing other services called for by our standard of living.

"But the amount of raw-material production and the prices it brings determine the amount of national income that can be distributed among these other groups. The new income this provides is the starter for the whole machinery of exchange. If large, the machine runs at full speed. If small, the machine slows down and we have bad times. For the rate of turnover operates as an economic constant....

"Parity farm prices [this is, fair farm prices] consequently becomes a national necessity. The United States has never had a depression when farm prices were at parity. Our troubles always came when farm prices fell out of line with others. And disaster soon overtook the other major elements in our economy...."  [And still today as inflation, high taxes, high debt, and lost jobs have plagued us for many years.]
       From the Web site of the National Organization for Raw Materials  

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* NORM Economics
This is a lonely Web site that has been preaching a message similar to Pollan's (but not as articulate) for many years: http://www.normeconomics.com/ - (The National Organization for Raw Materials). It takes patience to understand what NORM is saying, but here are some good quotes, along with Key to Prosperity above: 

http://www.normeconomics.com/quotes.html
These "excerpts provide a historical perspective to the policy direction the federal government took in the 1960s to use the mechanism of low farm commodity prices to force millions of so-called "inefficient" family farmers from the land and consolidate a minimal food-producing labor force onto larger and larger "efficient" enterprises. The policy worked to perfection from the Committee's perspective. From 1962 to the end of 1966, the number of farm workers decreased by 34.1% -- from 5,259.000 persons to 3,465,000 persons -- or 448,000 persons per year. In 1962, the farm labor force was 7.8% of the civilian non-farm labor force. In 1966, it was 4.6%. However, low commodity prices not only caused an exodus from the land, they also served to initiate America's slide into unserviceable trillions of dollars of public and private debt."

Or http://www.normeconomics.com/beginning.html
"In the beginning, all people went directly to Mother Nature to gather their necessities of life. People realized their very existence depended entirely upon the bounty of nature.....

"Eventually, "money" became very popular. Most people forgot that everything needed by mankind to sustain human standards of living came directly from the bounty of nature. People became obsessed with money and considered it "wealth," thereby degrading the importance of the necessities of life, especially the raw materials from nature. This money culture gave birth to debt and usury, in spite of the warnings of great social and religious reformers over the ages, including Jesus Christ...." 

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* Seven Words That Can Change the  World by Joe Simonetta
Seven Words That Can Change the World reveals the astonishing, simple truths that have the power to forever transform our world for the better while freeing our minds from the enslavement of limiting beliefs.

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* Trade Observatory of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
WTO Framework Agreement Hurts Farmers
A framework agreed to by the World Trade Organization on July 31,2004, is full of well-meaning rhetoric, but does nothing to address the fundamental distortions in world agricultural commodity markets.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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* Free TradeTM
by Derrick Jensen
The Ecologist
08/05/2003

"Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that the rich of the world still control the former colonies (although few are so impolite as to call them that anymore), because many of the colonial structures the rich nations built up were simply left in place after 'independence'. Corporate access to land, resources and markets, debt peonage, tax structures favourable to the powerful, commodity pricing aimed at driving small producers off their land, the massive export of resources ­ these are all similar to procedures that existed hundreds of years ago. Only the names have changed. And in some countries, poverty is much worse than it was under direct colonial rule...

"The powerful have always recognized the impossibility of negotiations between parties of unequal power, and have done everything they can to magnify this disparity. Without access to land there can be no self-sufficiency. Land provides food, shelter, clothing. If you can force people to pay just so they can be alive on this earth (nowadays these payments are usually called rent or mortgage), you've forced them into the wage economy.

"The same holds true for forcing people to pay for materials that the earth gives freely: the salmon, bison, huckleberries and willows, for example, that are central to the lives, cultures and communities not only of indigenous peoples but of all of us (even if we make believe this isn't the case). To force people to pay for things they need for survival is an atrocity ­ a community- and nature-destroying atrocity. To convince them to pay willingly is a scam. It also, as we see around us (or would had we not been brainwashed), causes people to forget that communities are even possible...."

From  http://www.organicconsumers.org/starbucks/free_trade_fair_trade.cfm

at the Web site of Organic Consumers Association - Campaigning for Food Safety, Organic Agriculture, Fair Trade & Sustainability.

There is lots more at their Globalization/Trade site:
 http://www.organicconsumers.org/corplink.html   

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On corporate power - Distortions in the Healthcare Industry 
from They're Making You Fat and Sick, by Gary Springer
A clear, powerful exposition of how and why corporate power corrupts our food and healthcare industries (and agriculture also).

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* African Agriculture - A Glaring Example
This report gives a chilling picture of the evils of colonialism and unfettered world capitalism in one African country. In a world stumbling under the burden of terrorism, we would do well to understand how cheap food can contribute to this predicament.

Tanzania: Imperialism, the state and the peasantry
From: African agriculture: The critical choices
The United Nations University/Third World Forum
Studies In African Political Economy

http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu28ae/uu28ae0h.htm

Quoting:
"Thus colonial rulers had the problem of maintaining low prices for raw materials while simultaneously ensuring their maximum production; this problem remains unsolved by independent governments."

Kris's comment:
The unrecognized problem is the fallacious goal of low commodity prices - if low prices for raw materials are the goal, then wages will be low with resulting lack of buying power, and, of course, little incentive to produce. This goal is exploitative - the essence of colonialism, and unfortunately all too common today. On the other hand if prices are fair and adequate, producers have the incentive to produce, and the income to provide for an improved life.

And a further quote from the section "Failure of villagization projects":
"The process of integration and control of the peasantry has finally been accomplished. In the final analysis this control and domination is most advantageous to the international division of labour characteristic of world capitalism: it ensures that peasants cannot resort to their traditional tactic of withdrawing from market forces to pursue subsistence agriculture.

"These changes have not only firmly integrated the peasantry into the world market but have intensified its exploitation. Prices of primary products from underdeveloped countries bear no relation to their values: the socially necessary labour time spent on their production. [my emphasis] Multinational companies continue to amass huge profits from the trade of raw materials from underdeveloped countries. Within the country, however, a greater and greater proportion of the peasant produce is appropriated by the state bourgeoisie. Indeed, the abolition of local government and co-operative institutions was objectively a means for ensuring this exploitation."

Kris further comments:
Unfortunately this is also true in developed countries - farmers in the U.S.A. have a tough time making a living, their lack of profitability often unrecognized because of the supplemental outside income of family members, to say nothing of large government subsidies for some crops. And huge numbers of farmers have left the business because they were losing money. The price for basic commodities is far less now, adjusted for inflation than just after WW II when farmers were getting good prices, inflation was low, and debt and taxes were also low. Now we have low commodity prices, high taxes and debt, and have gone through a lengthy period of high inflation, which is only held back now by third world exploitation and the heavy burden of debt. 

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* 'Wal-Martization' - Destruction to the Global Community
by Mike Callicrate - a powerful voice arguing against our cheap food mentality and the power of monopolistic forces in our society.

"The well-being, liberty and freedom of every country, independent business and person is threatened in the leveraging of people against people, and country against country, as these killer greed-driven corporations, empowered by WTO rules, search the globe for higher and higher profits in the lowest-cost commodities and in the most desperate people, who will work the cheapest."

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*  Ending Hunger

Food First - www. foodfirst.org  
The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First shapes how people think by analyzing the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and developing solutions in partnership with movements working for social change. See Going Local on a Global Scale

Bread for the  World -  www.bread.org  
  
Seeking Justice, Ending Hunger
  - Christians lobbying against hunger

Small Farms and Hunger

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A New Vision  *  (Farm Politics)  
*  The Politics and Economics of Food by Sally Fallon

*  How to Keep The Value Added Down on the Farm - Where It Belongs
by Sally Fallon

* The Raw Milk Issue

* Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture from www.FoodFirst.org   

* Biotech has bamboozled us all  

* Small Farms Are More Efficient & Sustainable
http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/smallfarmsbetter.cfm

* Diet for small planet may be most efficient if it includes dairy and a little meat, Cornell researchers report
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct07/diets.ag.footprint.sl.html

* Corporate Lies
Busting the Myths of Industrial Agriculture
   

* Viable Farming Options

*Rural Enterprise Center  *  Rural Enterprise Blog 
The Rural Enterprise Center takes an economic development approach to poverty reduction and community building - bringing together the support infrastructure, resources, systems and programs that rural community members, and specifically, Latin@ entrepreneurs need to succeed

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* National Family Farm Coalition  
"A Broad-based Consensus Proposal to Restore and Maintain Profitability on America's Family Farms and Ranches."  
Provides a good analysis of why "farming is fundamentally a unique business worldwide. It does not and cannot follow the typical supply and demand economics applicable to most businesses... An effective national farm policy is no less necessary than Social Security, minimum wage law, or worker protection legislation."  

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* Community Food Security Coalition  
"In reaction to a variety of emerging U.S. food and agriculture issues - such as low farm prices, sustainable agriculture, local food systems, the relation between diet and health, and limited access to affordable food outlets in many U.S. communities - food security as a uniquely household problem began to merge with the problems facing food producers and the larger food environment under the hybrid concept of "community food security"....

"The concept of community food security has also gone through many changes, but its generally accepted definition is "a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice"."

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Redefining Progress works with a broad array of partners to shift the economy and public policy toward sustainability
   Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz to see the depth of our problems

What's the Economy for, Anyway? by John De Graaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated 09/09/2014

"In the past twenty years, I have seen time and time again that what is called 'growth' in the industrial economy is in reality robbery - robbery at the expense of nature and at the expense of human beings."
Vandana Shiva
Indian Physicist and activist
(Connection Spirit, 
May 2005)

 

Learn more about Heifer International's Read to Feed Program.
Children Reading to Fight World Hunger

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Which would you rather have? Fifty cent hamburgers and five cents in your pocket, or dollar hamburgers and five dollars in your pocket?"

Randy Cook of NORM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did God intend?

In Romans 13, verse 4, Paul states "The [governmental] authorities are sent by God to help you [that is, the average guy on the street or in the field, the peasants]. (NLT)

Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream. 
Amos 5:23-24 (NKJV)

 

God's judgement on those who ignore God's call for justice:

They spout empty words and make promises they don't intend to keep. So perverted justice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer's field
Hosea 10:4 (NLT)

They have perverted justice by selling honest people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. 
Amos 2:6b (NLT)

You wicked people! You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to you
Amos 5:7 (NLT)

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land...
The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob; Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Amos 8:4,7

"Oh, ye wealthy: Your riches are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten. Ye fail to hear the wails of the laborers of the fields, which is of you kept back by fraud." --- Holy Bible: James 5:1-3 (paraphrased)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God's Vision of a Just World

Isaiah 65:21-22
My people will live in the houses they build;
they will enjoy grapes from their own vineyards.
No one will take away their homes or vineyards.
My chosen people will live to be as old as trees, and they will enjoy what they have earned.