Food glorious food
What is there more handsome
Gulped swallowed or chewed
Still worth a kings ransom
What is it we dream about?
What brings on a sigh?
Piled peaches and cream about six feet high
-From the musical Oliver
For many, food conjures up warm holiday memories of dinner with families and aromas that fill homes as friends and families gather. However, food has become (or perhaps more appropriately, it always has been) very political.
In today’s world, food is at the nexus between essential human needs, the environment, activism, politics, and the battleground of command-and-control environmental regulation.
For the producers of food, at least in the western world, they are business men and women caught in this ongoing battle, and by-in-large, doing their best to turn a profit and comply with the morass of regulations and the attack from activists. The messages to producers are numerous:
• The global population continues to grow, so we need more food.
• Consumers are more health conscience, so we want more “natural” choices.
• The public wants the food to be sustainable and to leave a small carbon footprint.
• While we are not sure what they are, we certainly hope you are not a “factory farm.”
• And GMO’s sure sound bad so that’s something we should probably avoid.
• …oh and because the economy continues to suffer, we want it cheap!
Are these conflicting messages? And in the battle for attention, what messages do the public and consumers hear as it relates to agriculture?
Unfortunately, it’s the shriller and more fantastic that grabs the attention of a world that thrives on sound bites and “Tweets.” Consider this statement from the October 2011 National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment, and Farm Animals. “Over the past few decades, the rise of factory farming has institutionalized animal cruelty, caused massive environmental destruction and resource damage and resource depletion, and posed a constant threat to human and animal health” http://factoryfarmingconference.org/.
It sounds quite horrific, and what decent human could possibly favor such a system? And if you have never been to a farm or taken the time to really understand farming, you might continue to be misled.
But what if our western world and modern ways of farming were actually more productive and created a smaller environmental footprint? As Dr. Jude Capper points out in her blog, “…as we move across the globe from developed to developing regions, productivity decreases and the carbon footprint per kg of milk increases…” http://bovidiva.com/2011/10/28/can-population-control-shrink-the-yield-gap-developing-solutions-for-developing-regions/
Of course, sound, scientific information is not nearly as juicy as “institutionalized animal cruelty and massive environmental destruction.”
So where does all of this leave us as we look to 2012? While we cannot do much about the global economy, we remain committed to helping you put science on your side to help you make good business decisions. A workable spill plan for fuels; an NPDES permit (when necessary) that isn’t burdened with onerous regulatory requirements; an effective storm water management plan; a safe and sustainable water supply; standing up to regulators and activists saying, “no!” to unreasonable requests; and providing scientific support when the battle reaches the courtroom.
I plan to enjoy plenty of “glorious food” this holiday season. In the meantime, should you find yourself in need of assistance with environmental issues, large or small, in 2012 – The Dragun Corporation will be here, as we have been, ready to assist you.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.