I understand the importance of the Mum and Pop farmers making some
money to live on, but I don't believe we can simply foresake nature to
achieve this end. I don't think the majority of people are going to
start voting with their dollars in the near (enough) future, so my
personal feeling is that legislation *is* required to force
You touch upon a number of interesting issues concerning our use of resources.
Most of us don't give recognition to the abudance food in our lives. We, as a
culture, have marginalized food to a point where we are conditioned not to
make the connection between the food we eat, our health, and the world around
us. I don't want to get too abstract but until we are able to connect the
health of the planet to our personal health through our food purchases and
diet no one will demand any changes in agriculutral practices.
I agree with your view that "the majority of people are not going to start
voting with their dollars in the near (enough) future." The discussions that
I have had with consumers, and consumer surveys that I have seen, show that
consumers don't see/connect their purchases as a market signal or vote. We as
a country, U.S., are agriculturally illiterate, and the importance we place on
food can be seen in the priority school lunch menus and nutritional education
gets from school boards throughout this great land.
In terms of effective legislation. I'm beginning to believe that governmental
action may be the only true direction to go in order to achieve
environmentally aware agricultural practices and food system initiaves. We
have to develop greater appreciation for the balance between our environmental
practices, our food supply, diets, personal health, and the need for
profitability throughout the whole system. Without new forms of governmental
legislation, i.e. horizontal directives and partnerships among people, that
recognizes the need for economic profit at the "Mum and Pop " level, we will
not do what needs to be done. The Sunday, August 13 NY Times had a front page
article entitled "In Unusual Partnership, Farmers Help Safegaurd New York
Water", that shows new legislation is being done, on a pretty big scale too.
Your recognition of the need for large scale farms to "feed the masses" brings
the discussion into good perspective. We have a specialized economy and no
matter what we believe are the personal benefits from growing our own food not
all of us are going to do it. We have had a "foodshed" structure in our food
system for 100+ years* and need to more fully incorporate this structure into
our discussion of issues.
Food Systems Professions Education Project
* Hedden, W.P., How Great Cities Are Fed, D.C. Heath And Co., 1929.
A good discussion of current issues in the food system is:
The Emerging Global Food System: Public and Private Sector Issues, Edited by
Gerald E. Gaull and Ray A. Goldberg, John Wiley & SOns, Inc. 1993.