The grating news that Prince Charles was coming to the United States to lecture us fat Americans on our bad eating habits was only tempered by the news that Jamie Oliver’s show “Food Revolution” had been cancelled by ABC because no one was watching.
There is a God…
Of course Prince Charles was still annoying…
Speaking last week at Georgetown University, the Prince criticized U.S. government farm subsidies for supporting large-scale, industrial agriculture but, of course, stopped short of calling for an end to subsidies all together. Instead, the Prince encouraged those subsidies be directed to organic and “environmentally friendly” food production. Ahh…as usual, the foodies show that it isn’t the waste they’re concerned about, it’s the fact that the waste isn’t being properly directed.
The Prince summed up his cause by saying “The point, surely, is to achieve a situation where the production of healthier food is rewarded and becomes more affordable and that the earth’s capital is not so eroded.”
Yes, that is the point but what the Prince doesn’t seem to realize is that cheap and healthy food has already been achieved. American farmers produce massive quantities of cheap and healthy food using industrial methods–that do not erode the soil. It simply isn’t in the interest of farmers (even industrial farmers) to erode the soil. In fact, agribusiness spends billions developing farming methods that protect the soil.
And just how will small-scale, organic producers increase their yield to serve our population if we abandon industrial farming methods? Mother Jones looked into this and it turns out, organic farmers would have to employ methods mother earth might not approve of:
This tendency to replace complexity with checklists is the hallmark of the alternative food sector. Today’s federal requirements for organic food, for example, only hint at the richness of the original concept, which encouraged farmers to not only forgo chemical fertilizers but also replenish soils on-site, using livestock manure or crop rotations. The problem is that replenishing on-site is costly and time consuming. As demand for organic has grown and farmers have been pushed to gain the same überefficiencies as their industrial rivals, more of them (particularly those selling to chain groceries) simply import manure from feedlots, sometimes hundreds of miles away. Technically, these farms are still organic-they don’t use chemical fertilizers. But is something really sustainable if the natural fertilizer must travel such distances or come from feedlots, the apotheosis of unsafe, unsustainable production? Forget about food miles. What about poop miles?
Oh yes, I’d like the Prince to address poop miles…and Prince miles. One wonders how much carbon the Prince produced to make his trip to America to lecture us on our farming methods.