Friday, April 24, 2009

Food food food food

In the same vein as considering what resources your home demands (environmental, financial, investments of your time and energy,) we've also been thinking about the life cycle of our food products- whether we buy them from Safeway, local businesses or grow them ourselves. 

So it was very encouraging to see this article from the Times online, discussing the back and forth between Michelle Obama (who recently planted an organic garden at the white house) and big agribusiness in the States. It seems that those invested in agribusiness are wary of someone with so much influence advocating organic DIY gardening- but frankly, I think that they have little to fear.

The infrastructure for food in North America is still heavily dependent on factory farming, which in turn relies heavily on chemical processes which prop up the one-sided process. Whether permaculture is a viable alternative on a large scale is yet to be seen. 

Not to mention that (from Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dillemma) large scale organic farming resembles factory farming in many ways- and it remains to be seen if this can in fact be considered to be a significantly more environmentally balanced practice.

Meanwhile, if people start growing their own, it helps build up the food security of the place in which they live. I don't think that we're anywhere near the point where people would give up their banannas and mangoes, shipped in from elsewhere by middlemen. Agribusiness should untangle its' panties, there's a ways to go yet before the bottom will fall out of their market.


  1. I'd say that agribusiness has a lot to fear from change in how people obtain their food, recently DIY (Do It Yourself) farming, but only if they themselves don't learn to adapt.
    There will always be a role for centralized distribution of food, be it in a physical form such as current-day supermarkets or centralized databases of DIY information and tools.
    Those who adapt to the market and find relevant roles for themselves will do well where others will fall by the wayside. But that's capitalism at its best so they should be perfectly ok with it, right?

  2. *nods* absolutely. I think that there's a lot of benefit to be had from people making it their business to work with community gardening, planning and designing greenspace and even turning lawns into gardens- it's all about adaptation.

    There's also the issue though of middlemen- people who get a cut of the profit despite not really producing anything. Some of these people are important (help manage/communicate etc,) and some are not. And those people, who get cut out of the process because of DIY will be the ones making a fuss. Maybe that's just the business evolving to streamline itself?