Used food tins with overwhelming propaganda branding stacked near the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. | Image source – AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam; courtesy – theatlantic.com
ooking at butter mountains, lakes of wine and milk, in Europe and US after the starvation and famine in Africa, it can be easy to jump to wrong conclusions.
Just 60 years ago, Europe was dependent on food imports – and was on limited rations.
Food aid is frequently a market seeding program to create markets for Western food multinationals. A Somali refugee with a high-energy biscuit at the Ifo refugee camp on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. | Image source – Oli Scarff/Getty Images; courtesy – theatlantic.com
Today the story is different.
The price of a ton of skimmed-milk powder, which in the summer of 2007 was above €3,000, had fallen roughly in half. In Germany it is currently around €1,400.
Farmers had been hit by a slump in demand for commodities caused by the global financial slowdown, and by the strength of the euro.
“We export a lot to Russia in terms of butter, cheese to the United States and milk powder to Africa and Asia, and all these are hit by the strength of the euro”.
Though the EU managed to dispense with its butter stocks in 2007, grain mountains and wine lakes still exist.
The latest figures show that 717,810 tons of cereals is piling up, along with 41,422 tons of sugar and 2.3 million hectoliters of wine, according to the European Commission.
via EU’s butter mountain is back – The New York Times.
Graphic source & courtesy – economist.com on Jul 1st 2010
Currently, there is belief that food shortages in the West were an exception – maybe even an aberration.
This confidence and belief has grown to the extent that the West seriously asks itself.
“But can we feed the world this way?”
following World War II, with the onset of the “Green Revolution,” feeding the world became a national mantra. It was a ubiquitous “good” that handily justified the discovery that the petrochemicals used in warfare could find postwar applications if dumped on our food supply.
However, 75 or 100 years ago, such a question would never have entered into our dialogue. To ask a local farmer or homesteader how his or her production methods were going to feed the world would have been absurd. The local producer’s job was to support the family, the community, and his or her bioregion–not the world.
“Feeding the world” was the background tune playing in the bank, on the car radio of the seed salesman, in the office of the accountant as farmers were counseled to “get big or get out,” to expand their production and change their growing practices to participate in a global food supply, rather than a regional one.
Can the local, sustainable food movement in the United States feed the world? Hell, no. Nor can the industrial agricultural paradigm. No one can feed the world. One country cannot do it, nor can any specific model of production.
Thus, I leave you with one question: What can you do today that will enable the world to feed itself?
via The Downside of Expecting America’s Agriculture System to Feed the World | Alternet.
As Europe & US play out a charade of negotiations, it is Africa and Asia which is suffering from food shortages. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson; on July 5, 2005; source & courtesy – nicholsoncartoons.com
Forget about the world. Forget about pollution, environment, green-planet, ecology, rain forests et al.
Think of yourself.
Between the US and the EU, the agricultural system gets close to US$100 billion dollars. Western farmers get more subsidy than the GDP of 125 countries in the world.
Western governments subsidize their farmers by a sum greater than the GDP of countries like Morocco, Oman, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Kenya, Libya, Tanzania among many others.
The West can afford this subsidy regime for now. One more crisis like the ongoing Great Recession – and these subsidies will have to go. When agricultural subsidies to Western farmers go, food from dinner tables across the West will also vanish. As subsidies decline, Western consumers may see food shortages and nearly 50% increase in food prices.
Worry about that.