> How can I continue farming and not make a profit?
> Steve Groff
Let me clarify my original message. Of course farming has to be
economically viable. I find it astounding however that ADM should tout
their slogan of feeding the world when "the world" is plainly not who
they are trying to feed. They are trying to feed those who have money
to buy their products so what happens is that much food gets produced in
the have-not nations of the world to be consumed in the have nations of
the world. It's also been shown that much of the increase in yields
we've experienced in this century has had the ironic effect of making
more people hungry by driving them out of subsistence agricultures and
into cash crops. Clearly, as we've discussed before on this list,
hunger is more a function of political, social and economic context
rather than strictly a production problem.
However, feeding hungry people is not something we've addressed very
well in the sustainable agriculture movement in Canada and the US. It's
not because we don't want to. Sustainable farmers work hard and need to
be paid justly for their efforts. Sometimes this makes this wholesome
food unaffordable to limited resource families, however. Meanwhile,
large agribusinesses are dumping surpluses, overruns, unasethically
packaged food and the like into our system of food banks and pantries so
that emergency food sources have to rely on industrialized agriculture
rather than sustainable agriculture for food for the hungry. One way
that many groups are trying to address these issues is to help people
again try to feed themselves from small plots in both urban and rural
areas. On the whole, though, the critique of sustainable agriculture,
or alternative food systems, as mainly for the middle class remains
somewhat valid. I don't have good answers but would like to see we in
the sustainable agriculture movement work in this area as well.
-- Mary Hendrickson, Ph.D. Network Coordinator Food Circles Networking Project University of Missouri Outreach and Extension Department of Rural Sociology Columbia, MO 65211
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