Thursday, March 26, 2009

But Will It Be Enough?

A shorter food chain has many benefits
Supporting local farms, planting home garden would cut use of fossil fuels

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last Saturday morning, in the midst of pancakes and maple syrup, my 12-year-old asked me the importance of Michelle Obama’s planting a garden on the White House’s South Lawn.
It was a most timely question, as I was on my way to the Georgia Organics 12th annual Conference and Trade Show at Agnes Scott College.

And it wouldn’t be until later that evening, after hearing keynote speaker and food writer Michael Pollan deliver his address to roughly 1,100 people, that I would truly be able to answer her.

After attending an upbeat, informative session on starting a farm-to-school program and a brilliant lecture by writer Dan Imnoff on the state of the U.S. food system, I realized we still have a war effort when it comes to the foods we eat.

Those of us who support local, sustainable foods, from chicken to chervil, are at war with big farming. It’s a shame, since throughout the conference speakers gave plenty of examples of small farmers across the country who make the small-farming system work every day.

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“We are at war with big farming.” That is the message of this article. What is big farming? Agriculture’s job is to feed our population with the greatest efficiency. If it’s just a size issue, then where is the labor to accomplish that going to come from? Pollan wants us to farm and ranch the way we did before WWII. If you will recall, food was at a premium then and the population of this country was only around 132 million in 1940. Today our population is well over 300 million. How is that going to work? Pollan refuses to answer that question.

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