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Almost certain I hear the fat lady singing!

Posted 7/9/2008 11:29pm by Leaf Myczack.

For a lot of Americans, it is becoming painfully obvious that our hyper-consumptive cultural lifestyle, fueled by cheap energy and unlimited credit, is not sustainable or even desirable. In spite of soothing reassurances that the economy is strong, oft repeated by Bush administration lackeys, most people have a sense that the door has closed on the free-for-all boom days of “shopping ‘til you drop.”

The twin prods of this painful realization are $4+ a gallon gas and soaring food prices. And even paying high food prices doesn’t guarantee that the food is safe or nutritious. Labeling rules are so minimal, the average person has no way of knowing where the food was grown, what chemical sprays and poisons were applied,  what genes were spliced, or cloned, or what medications and hormones were used. In other words, if you are buying conventional food from the big box stores, you are essentially shopping blind.

The roots of our current food crisis reach back in time to the Nixon presidency. It was under Nixon that the Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, pushed for cheap food production in order to free up family income to purchase consumer goods. The small family farm, in his view, was an impediment to this vision. The new mantra from Washington was “get bigger, or get out.” Farm foreclosures began to gather steam as farmers over-extended and borrowed too much money in an attempt to keep up with the new farm paradigm.

Large agribusiness corporations bought up the land and began to turn agriculture into an industrial process. In the new industrial farming paradigm, bigger is better, and growing a monoculture crop more efficient. The mechanically intensive and soil abusive shortcomings of this unnatural approach would be, according to the USDA "experts,"  overcome by cheap fossil fuel use, synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers, and chemical pesticidal and herbicidal poison applications.

Our food now travels hundreds, if not thousands of miles from farm field to dining table. One example of this ludicrous transportation situation is that poultry grown and slaughtered here in the U.S, is shipped to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and Canada! Now with transportation costs skyrocketing, the price of food is also on a steep climb. It seems that the “experts” were wrong about the miracle of modern industrial agriculture and its' promise of "cheap food."

If there is an answer to the current food crises, it lies within the scale of the local community. Food can and should be grown where it will be consumed, at the local level. There is a movement across the country, spearheaded by small-scale farmers and gardeners to return health to the soil, and in turn, bring nutrition and wholesomeness back to the food we consume.

Big Agri-business and their government allies view this movement as nothing short of a revolution against the status quo.The USDA is attempting to thwart this movement with punitive rules and regulations that are designed to hinder and impede the small-scale local farmer from supplying the wholesome, unprocessed food more and more people are demanding. The USDA has even trademarked the term "organic."

If you are having trouble hearing the fat lady sing, perhaps it is because of all the noise created by the over-sold American Dream crashing down around us. Change is not optional; it is being made mandatory by current economic and environmental events. Droughts, floods, heat waves, and depleted soil, along with soaring fuel prices, patented seeds, and world trade agreements are putting the global food supply at increasing risk. It is now time to return to locally based, organic agriculture to feed our communities.

-farmer leaf