So Much This there's always plenty to do

2Jun/110

Rising food prices increase squeeze on poor – Oxfam

via: BBC

Rising food prices are tightening the squeeze on populations already struggling to buy adequate food, demanding radical reform of the global food system, Oxfam has warned.

By 2030, the average cost of key crops could increase by between 120% and 180%, the charity forecasts.

It is the acceleration of a trend which has already seen food prices double in the last 20 years.

Half of the rise to come will be caused by climate change, Oxfam predicts.

It calls on world leaders to improve regulation of food markets and invest in a global climate fund.

"The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiralling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy," said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive.

19May/111

Hedgefunds buying farmland

There's a knot in my stomach after reading this article. Hedge fund managers are buying up farmland because they're scared of the apocalypse. No, hedge fund managers buying up farmland will create the apocalypse. Wall Street will do to agriculture what it did to real estate, manufacturing, et. al

via: The Observer

A study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and released in January estimated the amount of private capital currently committed to farmland and agricultural infrastructure at $14 billion. It also estimated that future investments will "dwarf" what's currently being thrown into land, by two to three times. Further down, the study makes a conservative projection that the amount of capital potentially entering the sector over the next decade will fly past $150 billion.

See also: How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis

17May/110

Home Rule takes a beating as Maine defeats food freedom bills

see earlier post: Sedgwick Maine declares food sovereignty

via: Inteldaily

In the state that made international news this year when three towns passed a food sovereignty ordinance, two bills that would have bolstered them at the state level met with defeat in Maine’s legislative Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Walter Kumiega, LD 366 was rejected by the Ag Committee on May 11. The raw milk bill would have obviated licensing for the direct sale from farmer to consumer and protected small operations from overly burdensome rules recently imposed at the bureaucratic level.

“Requiring someone with two cows or a handful of goats to invest ten thousand dollars or more to build an inspectable facility doesn’t make economic sense,” Kumiega told Food Freedom. “Hand milking is a perfectly acceptable method and does not need the same facilities that a machine milking operation does. LD 366 seeks to restore an exemption that was a standard practice up until two years ago, when it was changed by an administrative decision.”

In response to the Ag Committee’s issuance of a Majority Ought Not to Pass report on LD 366, Kumiega requested a roll call, which showed that by a vote of 80-70, the House accepted the Ag Committee’s recommendation not to pass the bill.

The bill goes to the Senate now, and will come back to the House for another vote, he said, advising that he may work on an amendment with a member of the Ag Committee and run it again.

14May/110

One-third of the world’s food goes to waste, says FAO

So this isn't really a problem that we need to protest against, but it is clearly a massive ridiculous problem. When people talk about how there are simply too many people in the world and we're running out of resources, I always say no, we just need to do better job with the resources we have. We have distribution problems, logistical problems, attitude problems, but not supply problems.

via: The Guardian
One-third of the world's food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, according to a study (pdf) released on Wednesday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Roughly 1.3bn tonnes of food is either lost or wasted globally due to inefficiencies throughout the food supply chain, says the report, based on research by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (Sik). Amid rising global food prices, the study says that reducing food losses in developing countries could have an "immediate and significant" impact on livelihoods and food security in some of the world's poorest countries.

According to the report, industrialised and developing countries waste or lose roughly the same amount of food each year – 670m and 630m tonnes respectively. But while rich countries waste food primarily at the level of the consumer, the main issue for developing countries is food lost due to weak infrastructure – including poor storage, processing and packaging facilities that lack the capacity to keep produce fresh. Food losses mean lost income for small farmers and higher prices for poor consumers in developing countries, says the study.

7May/110

How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis

So maybe food, energy, and currency are the three big areas on which CD21 needs to focus, because they're all connected.

via: Foreign Policy

Bankers recognized a good system when they saw it, and dozens of speculative non-physical hedgers followed Goldman's lead and joined the commodities index game, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, to name but a few purveyors of commodity index funds. The scene had been set for food inflation that would eventually catch unawares some of the largest milling, processing, and retailing corporations in the United States, and send shockwaves throughout the world.

The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities -- including food -- seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. "You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities," an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

2May/110

Voina Interview


Vice interviews Voina. Get on it.

25Apr/110

Open Source Ecology

A fascinating project, though certainly one still in its infancy (or maybe toddler years). This is one of the new directions I think CD needs to move in.

Open Source Ecology

16Apr/110

Sedgwick Maine Declares Food Sovereignty

via: The Complete Patient

On Saturday morning, Sedgwick became likely the first locale in the country to pass a "Food Sovereignty" law. It's the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the "Five Musketeers", a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive state food regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town's citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, enact potentially far-reaching laws with national implications. They've been holding these meetings in the Sedgwick town hall (pictured above) since 1794. At Friday's meeting, about 120 citizens raised their hands in unanimous approval of the ordinance.

Citing America's Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that "Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing." These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.

16Apr/110

Amish Smuggler’s Shady Milk Run

via: The Daily

Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, "Samuel" unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan. He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm.

As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.

Clearly, they couldn’t wait to get a taste.

But he wasn’t selling them anything they planned to smoke, snort or inject. Rather, he was giving them their once-a-month fix of raw milk — an unpasteurized product banned outright in 12 states and denounced by the FDA as a public health hazard, but beloved by a small but growing number of devotees who tout both its health benefits and its flavor.