You all know my favourite thing in life is food. And there is a lot going on in the world of food at the moment. The political parties are biffing it out over who has an agriculture policy, and surely food security and bio security go hand in hand. The intensive pig farmers are trying to get people to boycott Coles and Woolies pork and shop at the farmers markets because of the debate over sow stalls – I say bring it on, for once the intensive guy’s are doing something I agree with. I bet Michael Croft at Mountain Creek wished he had as many pigs as us ready for the markets.
There is a lot out there affecting our food security. Various media reports have suggested that the world will approach peak Phosphorus by 2033, some disagree saying we will be able to reduce our dependence on P before then and can stretch out our supplies for a few more years. Problem with these things is you can never fully understand the way they derive their figures – does this include worst or best case population growth? They are talking about recycling human and animal waste to capture P and send it back to the farmers. The flaw in this argument is that only 50% of food crops grown are actually consumed and that means you only delay the inevitable - not stop it. And unfortunately with current agricultural methods we can not survive without it, our whole sustainable agriculture model depends on P.
It’s back top the same old question – what’s the definition of sustainable?? Is it being able to replace enough nutrients in the paddock to allow continual harvests or is it an holistic approach of managing the soil; it’s nutrients, microbial and fungal communities, the moisture and carbon content and the structure above and below the surface so that farming improves the overall soil health not degrades it.
I think Dick Smith has the right idea, bring the root cause of the problem to the fore. Population, what is a sustainable population?? By definition it’s a population that has no net effect on the landscape. I’ve heard the arguments form the business leaders – no population growth means no increase in productivity, which translates to no huge amounts of money in their big fat pockets. But the true cost of trashing the planet isn’t paid for by them – we pay for it, our taxes pay for it and the third world suffer for it.
I received an email from a like minded soul recently, he asked me if he could write a guest post for the Blog; he’s sent the following –
Guest Blogger Dan Grifen
Sustainability Through the Consumption of Things Conserved
"In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage," - US Ecologist Gary Nabhan
Since the beginning of the green movement, there has been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses that are doing their part in the promotion of sustainability through conservation. As human beings, we're told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let's take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that http://www.garynabhan.com/ Gary Nabhan strongly suggests.
Gary Paul Nabhan, phD., is a Arab-American writer/conservationist whose extensive farming work in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region has made him world renowned. Specifically speaking, Nabhan is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. His uplifting messages and attitude towards life and culture has granted us access to multiple beneficial theories including his latest of eat what you conserve.
According to http://www.fao.org/ The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about three quarters of the genetic diversity of crops has been vanishing over the last century and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.
Nabhan claims that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we're promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species. But this goes beyond what we typically buy in supermarkets, particularly because of price and abundance. We must remember to try new things and immerse ourselves in the very concept of diversity. Keep in mind- the benefits of splurging for that costly fruit/vegetable supremely outweigh the cons. Not only are you promoting biodiversity and further eliminating the needs of farmers to remove rare, less purchased crops off their agenda, but you're also effectively encouraging healthier lifestyles.
Agriculturist Marco Contiero mentioned that "biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ips/5cf45c1c04357fdc5183024a327e7952.htm . With sustainable crop efforts being lead by the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) and the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) the duo plans to provide a more sustainable crop that can withstand natural disasters, avoiding food shortages like Haiti is experiencing. Contiero goes on to state "We need to ensure this is the basis for the future…" – This is exactly what Doug Band, the CGI, and the IRRI are doing by engaging in sustainability efforts.
So remember, next time you're in the supermarket picking out a common variety of navel oranges or strawberries, turn your attention to something that's a bit more exotic in nature. The same goes for salads/salad ingredients; shop outside the norm, picking spices and vegetables that you wouldn't normally incorporate into your everyday diet. During such economic downtime it isn't always easy to maintain the same level of grocery shopping intrigue, but we must also not forget that in this sundry of foods we can find fun!
Dan Grifen – Supporter of all things green and progressive.
Dan rightly identifies the problems we are creating by ignoring biodiversity – and it goes deeper. Genetically manipulating animals so that we exclude the effects of natural evolution is another problem. Our environment has changes significantly over the past decades. People insist on intervening in the natural evolution of both plants and animals to adapt with the new, evolving effects of a changes climate, ultimately this can only lead to the extinction of these species due to their inability to adapt. Now I could go on and on about this, but if you look at this video from Landline you’ll see where we could be headed. http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2010/s2950364.htm .
Lots more stuff to talk about - lots of rain as well.