Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Mother the Car.

We the people don't like high prices or high taxes, no matter what the cost, and politicians - if they want to stay employed, that is - know that they better give Americans what they want, no matter what the cost.

Unfortunately, the cost of low prices can be huge, as it upsets the natural ebb and flow of the supply and demand cycle, supposedly so crucial to the functioning of the "free market". Ironically, it's the "free market" advocates who disrupt this natural process the most, usually in favor of big business.

According to Michael Pollan, Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at University of California at Berkeley and author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, wrote an open letter, Farmer in Chief, in The New York Times Magazine to the next President, this type of interference corrupted our food system.

President Nixon, realizing that escalating food prices could be politically disastrous, ordered Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture at the time, to redesign America's farm policy in order to drive down the price of food. Butz more than surpassed President Nixon's expectations, however, his success may be chiefly responsible for our downfall if we don't do something soon.

In a nutshell, Butz transformed a regional food system, that produced nutritious, diverse, "solar based" calories into a huge, highly efficient agricultural industry that produces mostly empty, fossil-fuel based calories. Considering we are what we eat, "My Mother the Car" should be making a comeback any time now.

“...to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution—animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete—and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot.” -- Wendell Barry

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