Foodie’s Follow Friday 4 – Food Sovereignty
March 11th, 2011 | Blog, Community, bio-uniformity, bloghop, factory farm, family farm, farmers, food sovereignty, green revolution, grow your own, industrial, local, meat, Nyeleni, pig, saving, soybean
I have teamed up with Alex over at www.amoderatelife.com and April of 21st Century Housewife to host the Feed Me! Tweet Me! Follow Me Home Friday Friend Builder Linky. Scroll to the bottom of this page to link up your Real food lovin’ blog so we can all get to know each other.
Focus on Food Sovereignty
Well here in the Northern Hemisphere it’s that time of year people start gathering and sharing their seeds. I hear there are plenty of Seedy Saturdays happening all over North America and the UK, so if you have seeds to share do a google search for one in your area. Often you can get some exotic and rare seeds this way. Last year I shared some of my pau d’arco seeds! I am finally feeling a bit more organized and have just been reading a very informative newsletter put out by Nyeleni on the topic of food sovereignty which they publish copyright free in order to get the information to as wide a base as possible. I recommend reading them yourself as there is too much information for me to post here. I have pulled out some things from the latest newsletter on seed saving as well as the last newsletter on factory farms.
The Seed Industry: A History of Plundering
Although the private seed business is now valued at 32 Billion USD annually, it is important to remember that for a very long time, no one could do good business with seeds because farmers did not buy seed from the industry. In order to create an industry, peasant communities had to be dispossessed. Read More
Green revolution is the name of the agricultural modernisation programme – initiated by Northern institutions – that swept across the South, in the 1960s /1970s. The method: Initial subsidies and credit are made available to farmers. The conditions include replacement of farmers’ seeds with hybrids and GMOs, mandatory use of fertilisers and pesticides, mechanisation
of production, and consolidation of land ownership. Once farmers are trapped in the system, subsidies are withdrawn, and farmers become indebted. Other impacts are the degradation of land, the exhaustion of water supplies, and biodiversity loss (source: GRAIN).
Integrated small farms, which breed local livestock, are much more efficient, healthier and better for the environment. Cattle, sheep and other ruminants have the unique capacity to turn pasture into proteins for human consumption, as milk and meat. Farmers also use the manure to make healthier, living soils*. The negative contribution to global warming associated with meat production is mainly caused by the fertilisers used in the vast monoculture plantations for industrial animal feed, as soy-beans for example. On the contrary through sustainable pasture management carbon is stored as humus in the soil and contributes to its fertility. Each ton of humus in the soil captures about 1.8 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere**. Additionally traditional family farms guarantee the endurance of local breeds, conserving biodiversity and reducing the risk of disease transmission.
* – Via Campesina, Small scale sustainable farmers are cooling down the Earth PDF, 2009
** – Anita Idel, The Cow is not a Climate Killer, 2010 (only in German, English translation planned for 2011)
The Scary Path Towards Bio-Uniformity
Only 12 plant species (maize, rice, wheat, soybeans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, banana & plantains, sorghum, cassava, millet, sunflowers and canola) define global production. Small-scale farmers breed 5000 domesticated crop varieties, but only 150 plant species are used by industrial food chains to supply consumers. 2% is the annual decline in genetic diversity of leading crops and 3/4 of the seed pool diversity for these crops are already extinct. Global biodiversity has declined by 30% in the last 35 years*. In agriculture 75% of crop diversity has been lost in the last hundred years**, a process that goes hand in hand with the development of agribusiness and the decrease in small-scale family farming. As the list of unfulfilled international targets grows, the international community has so far failed to open their eyes to what needs to be done. Smallscale farmers and communities that practice agroforestry, traditional fishing and pastoralism are still the main keepers of living natural biodiversity, and need to be supported with all available means.
* More data in Who will feed us?, ETC Group, 2009
** The Living Planet Report, WWF,2010
***The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – FAO, 2010
Meat production to Feed or to Starve? -by Ole-Jacob Christensen
Humans have cultivated land for 10,000 years – almost as long as that we have bred animals for our pleasure, for their traction strength, or for their most important function – to feed us. Ruminants transform grass and scrub into meat, milk and manure. On our small mountain farm in Norway, our dairy cows go out into the forest or mountain every morning during the summer period, and return in the evening with full belly and udders. This allows us to grow other things (such as hay, vegetables, potatoes, fruits etc..) on the arable land. Modern farming has turned this principle upside down, and feeds animals with food that could feed people directly. The rate of concentrates (grains and soy) in the diet of an average cow now exceeds 40% of the total amount. Pigs and poultry bred in factory farms eat nothing but that; even salmon farming uses 3 to 4 kilograms of sea fish to produce one kilogram of salmon. 40% of cereals and 75% of soybean farmed today is processed as industrial animal feed. In this way, they lose between 60 and 80% of their nutritional value. Modern farming does not feed people, it starves them.
Speculators Bet with Millions of Lives – Just for Profit
Neither droughts nor floods have caused the current rise of staple food prices – which marked a record, exceeding the 2008 levels. The United Nations declared that the hyperinflation is produced by a combination of natural factors – such as climate change and human causes – such as the switching of many people to a more meat-based diet. However, several economists have finally begun to share the opinion that the same banks that were responsible for the financial crisis are causing the soaring of food prices by speculation in food markets. A reality that many social movements have long denounced. Speculators are endangering the life of millions of people, just for profit! For an analysis of the connection between inflationary prices and the current protests in North-Africa. Read More
Small Scale Poultry in Kenya, a Story of Struggle by Biashara Jane Kathure
Local chicken farming is the only livestock rearing that African women and children have full control over. I have seen poor women in dry rural areas sustain their family through the rearing of indigenous chicken. Local chicken farming can promote food and economic security for poor families. Farming also raises social status as a woman feels more important in the community when she can feed her kids and bring them to school. Currently still over 80% of chicken meat consumed in Kenya comes from local chicken farmed by small scale farmers. But six years ago the government promoted cross breeding of indigenous chicken with exotic chicken in a programme to upgrade local chickens, and now we have many hens from the area where the programme was promoted which refuse to brood, therefore no chicks. Some hens have also lost motherly instincts and abandon their chicks. This is a slow way of wiping out the indigenous gene pool. It means too that small farmers will be eliminated as they cannot afford to buy chicks from hatcheries. Therefore the rich continue to get richer by swallowing the poor peoples’ sources of income.
Traditional farmers are trying their best to save the indigenous breeds. Some have decided to become breeders of local chicken and they are selling the chicks to other farmers. In Makueni for example, MR Pius Makau of Kyemole farm keeps over 800 chicken for breeding only. Farmers have also put pressure on weak policies that aim to classify local chicken as wild birds and they have succeeded at it, now in fact local chickens are recognized in the policy as domesticated birds. Women’s groups engage in local chicken keeping as one of their activities and this helps in reproducing indigenous breeds, even if they lack the skills to manage it well. Nyeleni.org
While we are on the topic, check out this website: www.pigbusiness.co.uk to find out more ways you can get involved in putting an end to factory farms.
Feed Me! Tweet Me! Follow Me Home Friday!
Now what you have all been waiting for! I am very excited to be partnering with Alex of A Moderate Life and April of the 21st Century Housewife to offer a Foodie focused find a friend blog hop. Alex started this bloghop and the linky is called Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home and it is a true blog hop. This means, that if YOU wish to run the hop on your blog, all you have to do is get the linky code from the bottom of this page and list it on your blog for your readers to join in.
The rules are very simple, because it is a “follow me” linky.
Just enter your link below, grab our RSS feeds, follow each other’s tweets, join us on facebook or follow us on networked blogs.
You can use your blog badge as your thumbnail if you wish and you can link up any time during the week.
Visit as many other blogs as you like, to make new friends and follow their blog, grab their tweets and RSS feed if you do not already. If you do grab their info, please leave them a comment so they know they have a new friend. If someone visits you from Feed Me, and grabs your info, please return the favor!
You can share the Feed Me, Tweet Me, Follow Me Home badge if you want. Those are Alex’s two lovely parrots, Caliente, a Quaker parrot and Scarlet, a female Solomon Island Eclectus! Aren’t they cute?
It is that simple and hopefully this will help us all gain new visitors to our blogs and expand our audiences while giving us new places to explore and making the bloggiesphere a more friendly place! I follow everyone who visits me and leaves a comment, but if I missed you, please leave me a comment and have fun getting to know more wonderful places on the web!