DOWN ON THE FARM
Farming has as much impact on our environment as air and water pollution combined. The fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides farmers use soak into and contaminate our ground water as well as pour straight into our streams through rainwater runoff. And that's just agriculture. Animal husbandry brings its own set of environmental nightmares. However, like every other facet of our lives, there are big changes afoot in farming. This page will attempt to track them.
Waste Lots Want Lots
A Tale of US Food Production and Consumption 08.02.11
Any lover of exotic food gets that warm fuzzy feeling in Trader Joes. Shelves filled with French lemonade shoulder to shoulder with coolers packed with odd preparations of wild rice and shitake mushrooms. It’s a foodies heaven. Yet, the slick marketing masterpiece that made Trader Joes half gourmet deli/ half home pantry is wearing thin. First there’s the alleged abusive labor practices by the company and then there is this article about the lack of sustainable farming practices by Trader Joes' suppliers. Let’s face it, the food is still great and compared to the folks over at Monsanto, Trader Joes is a candidate for sainthood. However, there was one recent beef against Trader Joes that caught NBN’s eye: They throw out a lot of food. That's according to the latest left leaning documentary to find fault with the world of capitalism: Dive, a movie about Freegans, folks who live off the nation’s trash.
Plenty to eat under the tree
In a place like Ethiopia Freegans might not fare so well. Maybe even in some parts of Canada. But the movie "Dive" says Freegans in this country are living large, particularly those within walking distance of a Trader Joes. But NBN feels the documentary maker missed the mark in the focus of this feature. It rightly bemoans the people who go hungry in the face of all this waste, but appears to makes less mention of the environmental damage and energy waste that goes into to tossing out all this great food.
That is the real tragedy here folks, and it’s hardly confined to Trader Joes. This country’s ability to throw out 11 million pounds of food every hour stems directly from turning farms into manufacturing plants. We amp up agricultural production to unnatural levels then cull out just the very best to eat. If you think Traders Joes is being wasteful, try walking through an apple orchard in harvest time. Those who’ve seen such a sight know less than one in 20 apples from any orchard get eaten. Yet every year we’re using endless amounts of fertilizer and pesticides to coax this insane overproduction over and over again.
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_2011 Down on the Farm News Archive
2010 Down on the Farm News Archive
Mississippi farm runoff makes this deadzone the worlds largest
The point is this. Yes, it’s sad Trader Joes, discards enough food to cut the cafeteria budget of surrounding school districts in half. But what’s even sadder is every deli, supermarket, fish market, farm stand, restaurant and household is doing the same thing. Can anyone fathom how much food really gets discarded each day in this country? Then marry that image to the marine deadzones metastasizing at the mouth of every river draining pesticides and fertilizer from the nation’s farms. Think of landfills bulging with discarded food items, many wrapped in plastic that insure the contents inside will not nourish the surrounding soil for a century or so. Think of the fuel that farms burn to produce all that wasted food. Think of the groundwater contamination from the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers soaking into the soil every year.
Trader Joes A foodies' paradise.
When you start to look at this nation’s food production and the waste it generates, you realize those going hungry in the face of it are far from the only concern. This country is not wasteful because we like it. We’re wasteful because we’ve been spoiled rotten by manufacturers who convinced us that buying their products and then throwing them out is the American way of life. But it’s increasingly looking like the worm has turned on our over-consumption. With $4 gas we just can’t afford it anymore. And that’s great news. Not only will we be forced to curb our consumption and all the environmental damage it’s doing, but Freegans may have to get a real job. In the meantime, head over to Trader Joes for a bite, but you might want to wait until after they close.
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