How Shipping Skews the Food Market: The New York Times' Paul Krugman explains that "The volume of world shipping has, of course, risen a lot over the past 40 years--almost 250 percent" but the value of those shipped goods "has risen more than twice as much," the result being "a shift toward more electronics and other high-value-to-weight goods." But food doesn't have a very high value-to-weight, thus increasing prices because of the marginally increasing shipping costs.
On Saturday night I get back to the house from Union Square about 8:30. The day has been long and the hours outside on the streets of New York City were loud; the only thing I can do well is watch TV; because there are no advertisements to ignore, I watch C-SPAN'S BookTV. Professor Frank Dikötter was reading from his book, Mao's Great Famine and taking questions from the audience at the Asia Society in New York.
Much of what he had to say was about farmers and food; I was engrossed. And you can watch it on the web at booktv.org if you like.
"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikötter's riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians.
Dikötter makes clear, as nobody has before, that far from being the program that would lift the country among the world's superpowers and prove the power of Communism, as Mao imagined, the Great Leap Forward transformed the country in the other direction. It became the site not only of "one of the most deadly mass killings of human history,"—at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death—but also of "the greatest demolition of real estate in human history," as up to one-third of all housing was turned into rubble. The experiment was a catastrophe for the natural world as well, as the land was savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments."—synopsis from the Amazon website.
Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 by Frank Dikötter, 2010.
Available from Amazon.com
"While the US and the world bemoan high food prices and the inflationary pressures it causes, not to mention more people going hungry, there is very little talk about the 33 million acres in the US that taxpayers pay to sit idle. There is also the huge shift of food grains being burned for fuel, mostly corn for ethanol. Taxpayers subsidize ethanol production in addition to the subsidies directly to corn producers; those ethanol subsidies that were expected to expire on Dec. 31 were quietly re-instated into the budget even while politicians promised budget cuts. Yes, that’s right; here in the US, the same citizens that pay record high prices for food also subsidize the non-production of food, the transfer of food to fuel and the transfer of acres to corn to be used for that fuel.
Where is the logic?"
From [A] Agriculture.com
And in addition—speculation—when prices are rising, due to natural grain shortages from droughts or from acreage allocated to fuel production, etc., investment capital is buying commodity futures (as good investments) making food prices rise exponentialy faster. We pay for this with our money, the world poor pay for this with their bodies.
Is there an evil here or is this just free market capitalism? Maybe I should blame my mother, she taught me to root for the underdog.
Reprinted from The Food Renegade:
"The USDA wants to change their HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan requirements to make it almost impossible for small-scale producers to comply. Writing in The Atlantic, Joe Cloud (artisan butcher and co-owner with Joel Salatin of True & Essential Meats), frames the crisis this way:
The intent of HACCP is to prevent contamination of meat by harmful pathogens. Plant HACCP plans are approved and overseen by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the inspection arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On March 19, 2010, the FSIS published a draft guidance document on HACCP system validation, outlining new rules which would institute regular, year-round testing of all meats, whether or not problems have been identified. The proposal recommends testing for testing’s sake, and it will cost small plants tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, every year. The financial burden appears great enough that this will destroy much of the remaining community-based meat processing industry, which is enjoying a renaissance and creating jobs.
Small, local meat processors have always supported food safety. At our plant, we have had a functioning HACCP plan since 1999, and it works. We undergo extensive E. coli testing every year, and we have never had a positive result—ever. The purpose of HACCP is to employ well-recognized, established processes and process-control parameters to produce safe meat products—processes and parameters recognized and published by the USDA itself. Now, for some reason, the USDA wants to test the system and require excessive end-product microbiological testing, rather than allowing us to depend on these well-recognized procedures. Perhaps a large plant slaughtering 5,000 animals per day can afford its own lab and microbiology staff, and can pass the cost along to the consumer, but most small plants can’t. And perhaps large plants should open labs—those are the plants where a massive beef recall can involve millions of pounds.
In my opinion, the USDA needs to recognize that “one size fits all” inspection no longer fits current industry practice and consumer demand. These new HACCP requirements are going to cause a train wreck in a portion of the industry that is growing for the first time in years, and then the USDA is going to have a serious embarrassment on its hands. Someone needs to take a clear-eyed look at this situation and find a way to split the agribusiness mega-plants from the community-based localized plants within the regulatory structure.
This does NOT mean that small plants are not serious about food safety. It is because consumers are serious about food safety that they are coming to us, and we need to keep local infrastructure alive in this country. We need an inspection system that recognizes that the small plants do not put either the food economy or millions of people at risk in case of a food safety event.
All is not lost, though. The USDA opened up the new regulations for public comment. If you’re concerned about what these new regulations might do to your ability to have access to locally-raised, pasture-fed, and humanely-slaughtered meats, you’ve got until June 19th to let them know your opinion!"
Send email comments to: DraftValidationGuideComments@fsis.usda.gov
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 | Author: KristenM |
When I was a kid in the 50's I ate my fill of sweets, and then some, as did the kids I played with, and we weren't obese. But those sweets we filled up on primarliy contained sucrose, table sugar, not the cheaper, enzymatically processed high fructose corn syrup. Obesity is blamed on supersizing, but we ate to our fill back then, stuffed ourselves even. Times may change but kids are always kids.
As I have long suspected obesity is not caused by supersizing alone; it is caused by a drug mislabeled as a food, high fructose corn syrup, dangerous when taken even in moderate amounts. It's in almost everything the food corporations manufacture. I came across this in Wikipedia, "Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions."
This is what drugs do, they affect normal functions.
Ban HFCS, get sugar cane from Cuba, raise sugar beets locally and let childern eat what they want, but also do as our parents did, force vegetables on them once a day. Children on diets, preposterous! To blame kids and punish them by holding back food, ridiculous; but that's what mom & dad do obeying the teachings of the governmental-corporate food complex, aka, the USDA, the FDA and their educational minions.
Remember Halloween! Nobody could have eaten more candy than we did; we were skinny kids with a big sweet tooth.