Monday, May 24, 2010

"Make a demand for it, we'll produce it."

Wheat from our pantry - farmers are great producers!

If you weren't at the Tallgrass Film Festival showing of "Fresh" last Thursday, you missed out, but luckily you've got a second chance!  Tuesday evening, May 25th, the Wichita Organic Garden Club will be showing the film "Fresh" at 7 p.m. at Botanica.  The meeting is free, and open to the public.  I talked with the club president, Melvin Epp, who said participants can even go a little early and tour Botanica for free.  What a deal - hope to see you there!

A dairy farmer, a farming consultant, a local doctor and a state elected official answered questions after the showing of "Fresh" at Newman University last Thurs. evening. The food producers reiterated what "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" implied - if we, the consumer, choose local and organic foods, farmers will meet the demand. They will produce what consumers purchase, and if that's local and organic, they'll produce it. Our food choices really are "votes," and they matter. They do want to serve us, but we have to indicate our choices through what we purchase, not only through our words.

I appreciated the time the panel members took out of their schedules to speak after the showing, and to give their perspective on the film.  It is always important that we hear various food production views, as provided after "Fresh".  I encourage people when they view "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" to then look at the talking points put out by organizations such as Monsanto, Cargill, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, etc., and then make their own decisions about what they want to purchase.  (Links to talking points/"Food, Inc." responses included - just click on the organization name.)

In the question/answer session, one of the panel members said that farmers have been hurt because they are too productive, and this has driven food prices down.  However, not much earlier the panel indicated that farmers must increase production to be able to feed the hungry world. Those two statements seem to conflict.  One of the farmers also acknowledged that hunger is not currently an issue of production, but of distribution.  So my question is why do farmers feel a pressure to increase production when it really sounds like our focus should be on improving distribution?  Hmmm, something to investigate, to ask a conventional farmer about, and to see what else I can find on the topic. 

I have heard it said that the world population is estimated to increase to 9 billion by 2050, and that's why they have to increase production.  But my question, as I asked Thurs. evening, is did the world ask us to feed them?  It seems it would be better to teach them to grow their food, or fight against their corrupt governments if that is the reason they are starving.  Wouldn't a better solution be, as I've heard it said, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."

I also wonder, are we hurting our own food system by focusing on increasing production?  Donald Davis, PhD and other researchers have interesting evidence that increasing production decreases the nutrient levels of produce, especially vegetables, possibly due to increased yields.  Something to think about...

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