This newly returned subscriber was gratified (but not satisfied) by lively
and thoughtful letters from Michele Gale (Wisconsin) and Rich Molini
(Indiana) on the subect of Whole Foods. Herewith $.02 worth from a (Vermont)
Michele says "I'd like someone with an economics background to look at Whole
Foods and inform all of us: how can we sort out the actual growth and
expansion of the organic or natural foods markets from WF's corporate
takeover, drive-out- other-players strategies?"
Good Question, if the economist's "look" is pro bono. In my view too much
time and money is already spent on studies, producing reports that go unread
because they are already obsolete. I'd like to see the same money spent
just telling the public what is already known re "conventional agribusiness,
a nutritional, economic, social, and environmental nightmare."
The public does get the message if it's repeated often enough. Recent
article in New York Times (about poor market for organic cotton clothing)
began with "Americans cannot seem to get enough organic food. Consumption of
fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers has
soared 20 percent a year since 1990." No infosource named. Elsewhere I read
that organic farming is now a $2.5 billion "industry."
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Fields Without Dreams, Defending the Agrarian Idea, by
Victor Davis Hanson, The Free Press, 1996. Eloquent, passionate, factual
story of losing battle by fifth generation raisin grower family. (Not
dedicated to organics). For me, the biggest eye-opener was explanation of
how at least some agribusiness works - the corporation controls packaging,
shipping, marketing, and distribution of its produce. With profits from
these operations, it does not need to profit from the produce itself - in
fact it welcomes low prices that result in tax-deductible losses and at the
same time drive small farms under.
QUESTION: Can anyone refer me to a source of info on farmer populations?
Somewhere I read that the majority of U.S. farmers are approaching
retirement age, that few of the next generation want to take over, that
hardly any of those few can afford to buy farms. Nebraska has a beginning
farmer project that's doing big things on a small scale. Who else?
All for now,
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