Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Meatrix

I listened to an interesting discussion today on CBC regarding the family farm. It was a rather loose conversation regarding the decline of the family farm, land being taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and being sold to developers at astronomical prices; farmers (this time particularly in the Okanagan) who can't compete with the subsidized fruit that floods our market, so they are pulling out their orchards and replacing them with vineyards or again selling their farm; and farmers who can't afford to own their land so they either lease it or eventually get out of the farming business. There are many different issues that are at question here, but the one that bothers me most is that we are making ourselves more and more dependant on agricultural giants, huge factory farms that are just in it for the profit, they don't practice sustainable farming, and don't provide the highest quality produce (and by this, I don't necessarily mean the product that looks the nicest, but rather, the one that is fresh, has a high nutritional value and is flavourful). Also, with all of the talk about global warming and individuals changing their lifestyles in an effort to try and make a difference, it seems silly to eat something that travels more kilometres (or miles) to get to our table than some of us travel in a year.

While looking for further information on the Internet, I happened upon these facts: According to Farm Aid every week 330 farmers in the U.S. leave their land. There are now nearly five million fewer farms in the U.S. than there were in the 1930's. According to EPA, 3000 acres of productive U.S. farmland are lost to development every day. Between 1974 and 2002, the number of corporate-owned U.S. farms increased by more than 46 percent.

To become better informed about the major ramifications of this disturbing trend and what we as individuals can do, I recommend you watch the highly entertaining very informative video the Meatrix (available to watch online). Although specifically focused on what agri-farms have done to the meat and dairy industry, they shed some light on the problems of factory farming and provide suggestions for finding healthier food for our families. Or to learn more about sustainable food and the problems with factory farming, check out the Sustainable Table.


The Fool said...

What an informative post. I see that The Meatrix can be watched on line. You might want to add a notation to the post so people are more inclined to follow it out.

I'll check through the links and get back with you. Thanks...these are some important issues.

BurdockBoy said...

Great Post.

I am definitely going to watch the Meatrix-I'm a little too tired right now, but it looks funny and frightening.

Something I find a bit interesting is while agriculture is becoming more and more in the hands of the giants, there are also more and more farmers markets, CSA's, and Food Coops that sell local foods sprouting up- and even Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma having a long run on the Best Seller list is a bit hopeful. It appears that a dichotomy is forming between the informed and people who care about their foods origin and the people looking for cheap products with familiar labels they see on TV.

There also seems to be a movement of educated city drop-outs moving to the country to begin farming and gardening. I worked with a family in Oregn like that and there is a large population in Southern Wisconsin (Organic Valley territory), buying bankrupted farms in the hilly terrain and practicing sustainable farming. Hopefully as people wise up to the scares like e-coli we have been faced with, these small farms will get more support.

Carla said...

Fool, thanks for the suggestion. I'll add the notation.

Burdockboy, there definitely seems to be a movement afoot. We are seeing the same thing in Canada with an increase in farmers' markets and people actively seeking local produce that if not organic is at least non-sprayed. Funny you mention the "city drop outs" moving to the country to begin farming. Very good friends of mine did just that...left the city, bought an organic farm and are now making a go of it. I've been considering a post on their experiences. I just need to find some time to get out their way.