The Health Of America Starts On The Farm


Mark Bittman makes the point in his column at the New York Times today, that the biggest killer of Americans isn’t guns but industrial agriculture. A point I have made repeatedly with my family over the years.

…the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.

We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.

via Fixing Our Food Problem –

Mark’s point, in the article, is that to change these thing will take time. He compares the fight to a long list of social changes in the past few centuries. And he is right…It will take time. It will also cost each of us. Both time and money will have to be invested in order to fundamentally change the way we produce our food.

You would think that something that isn’t even a generation old could be changed more easily than that. But the reality is there is a lot of money being made in the way or food policy has evolved. And the only real way that will change is if the ones’s making the money are forced to take responsibility for the consequences of their money making shortcuts. As long as the cost of our policies are passed on to the end consumer, and bad health is one of the major costs, nothing about the way we produce our food will ever change.

This isn’t something I blame on farmers, either… Most farmers don’t profit that much from the “real” food produced in America. But then again, I don’t consider the owners and managers of CAFOs or commodity growers to actually be farmers. They are just factory workers in a different type of factory… A food factory. And like the industrialization of other industries, the industrialization of farming has led to a host of abuses… Many of which we haven’t even become aware of yet.

Mark Bittman’s call for patience is probably the right one… But patience is a virtue we may find hard to live with if our food keeps making us sick…

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