Depths of our Problem
High Cost of Cheap Food
Right on Target! How Misguided Economic Policies Relate to Obesity -
and lots of other problems!
Basics on Justice from Bread
for the World
Alternatives to misguided
cheap food farm policies - Fair
Trade, not Free Trade!
Key to Prosperity
Agriculture - A Glaring Example
- A Voice for
myths that keep the world poor
Seven Words That Can Change The
Agriculture Can Feed the World!
Wal-Martization’ - Destruction
to the Global Community
A New Vision
The Politics and
Economics of Food by
Benefits of Small Farm
Trade - Use your dollars to bring justice to third-world countries
of Fair Trade Goods
to spending money on "STUFF"
Security - Justice for our Farmers
Food Security Coalition
Food First - Institute for Food &
Family Farm Coalition
on Political Issues
* "Cheap" Beef ???
Cutting the cost of
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
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withdrawn from the fields of grain and hay and concentrated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
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
which is now closed. This
article from the Seattle Local Foods blog
illustrates why we really need to support local farmers.
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. "
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
Is Organic Food Worth the Price?
By Gene Franks
Cheap Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200611/cheapfood.asp
WOW, Right on
Target! The Fallacy of Cheap Food Policy and how it relates to obesity
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.
October 12, 2003
By MICHAEL POLLAN
(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
Alternatives to misguided
farm policies - Fair Trade, not Free Trade!
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.
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
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
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:
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."
"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...."
Words That Can Change the World by
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.
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
* Free TradeTM
by Derrick Jensen
"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...."
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:
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).
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.
Imperialism, the state and the peasantry
From: African agriculture: The critical choices,
The United Nations University/Third World Forum
Studies In African Political Economy
"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."
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
"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
"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.
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."
Food First - www.
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
Seeking Justice, Ending Hunger
- Christians lobbying against hunger
A New Vision *
Politics and Economics of Food by Sally Fallon
to Keep The Value Added Down on the Farm - Where It Belongs
by Sally Fallon
Raw Milk Issue
of Small Farm Agriculture from www.FoodFirst.org
has bamboozled us all
* Small Farms Are More Efficient & Sustainable
* Diet for small planet may be most efficient if it
includes dairy and a little meat, Cornell researchers report
Enterprise Center * Rural
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
Family Farm Coalition
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."
Food Security Coalition
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
"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
Progress works with a broad array of
partners to shift the economy and public policy toward
Take the Ecological
Footprint Quiz to see the depth of our problems
the Economy for, Anyway? by John De Graaf
"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."
Indian Physicist and activist
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
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.
"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
God's Vision of a Just World
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.