Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Global Food Crisis and Small Farms

So, what is the deal with the food crisis? Is it real ... is it something that can be fixed ... is it just a scare tactic made up by certain groups ... is it caused by our growing ethanol industry ... what exactly is the deal?!? This current/impending food crisis is something that I'm hearing a lot about lately on the news and in the blogging world. People are talking about it because of the food shortages in third world countries and because of the rising food costs here in the United States.

Yesterday I ran across the video below on one of the blogs I frequent. It looks like I'm a few days late posting it, but it was still an interesting video because it features the head of Compassion International talking about the food crisis. I love what Compassion does and have supported it various times, but I'm still curious about the food crisis ... is it something new in the third world countries, or has it been around and the same for quite a while.

The other thing that pops into my head when I see news reports on the food crisis is what small farms have to do with a lack of food. Should we have more small farms? Should the small farmer sell/rent their land to bigger farmers who can farm "more efficiently"? Can the small-scale farm make a large impact in a food crisis?

Those are all questions that I don't really have concrete answers for, but I would be interested in hearing what you take on the matter is. One way I do believe small farms can help the problem is through organizations like Gospel for Asia. This organization offers us opportunities to buy farm animals (chickens, rabbits, goats, etc.) for people in developing places so they can produce food for themselves and for sale. This is an organization I love to support and think they have a great model!


farm mama said...

I believe that the small, diversified farm can definitely be part of the answer, especially in the long run. Healthy food can be produced without destroying the land and without consuming large amounts of oil based products in fertilizing, herbicides, packaging and transporting long distances. It can also enable consumers to access healthy, delicious food and support their neighbors and stimulate the local economy at the same time. I became committed to buying local and eating seasonally after reading Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" about a year ago.
I hate the high gas prices as much as anyone else, but the silver lining may be that it is bringing home the reality that we cannot sustain our consumption of energy at the current rate. The rising food prices also help make the food produced by the small farmer more attractive from an economic standpoint.
We all need to reach out and help the hungry in developing countries, but far better to do it by giving them an animal, seeds or helping develop farming skills than to hand out food. (Their government officials are also far less likely to try to profit from any handouts, also.)

Ethan Book said...

Great thoughts Farm Mama ... keep them coming!

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