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As an entomologist I am used to getting blank, catatonic glares when I tell people what I am researching. For your average man on the street, insects have no bearing on daily existence. That is not the case. Most people do not realize that a large portion of all of our food comes to us because of a direct relationship between a food crop and an insect.

Here is an article from the BBC about how India is facing a food shortage because of an inability of flowering crops to be pollinated properly by insects. This is interesting for several reasons.

First, India produces more vegetables than any one nation besides China.

Second, India is the second most populous nation in the world, with %17.3 of the world’s population. Agriculture is a huge industry in India. The impact of having a large portion of the world out of food and work can’t be estimated and would have disastrous effects.

This issue is not restricted to India, but is a big deal in Europe and the Americas. So big the United Nations has an entire program devoted to it.

I will leave Haagen-Dazs to bring the point home.

Today my father had an article published in the Holland Sentinel concerning the role of chickens in urban areas.

Here is a link to the article and a link to a post on The Urban Agriculture Initiatives in Detroit blog, an urban agriculture blog I have mentioned before and am a contributor to.

 

Check them out and try to raise a stink in your neck of the woods to get some birds in your neighborhoods.

This is an essay I just turned in for a class. Thought somebody would enjoy reading it. If not,… whatever.

America’s Fork in the Road

The American food system is in a quiet crisis, a crisis that is being misrepresented by many, ignored by most and furthered by some. The very issues of food safety and food security are at risk by the nature of this crisis. The United States presently possesses one of the best food systems in the world with high safety and relatively accessible and secure products. As was discussed by Dr. Hamm in his lecture to the class, we do have “food deserts”, where a large number of people do not have direct access to quality food; these regions do not typify the American food system as a whole but may in fact become more typical if our system continues to be an amalgamated system, with large ubiquitous corporations controlling the entirety of food production. An ideal example to look towards to see the danger in this type of system is the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The financial industry rested on a handful of large companies that were engaged in activities of dubious legality. When these companies struggled, the ripples were felt across the nation and became shockwaves. The question persists if these trends of consolidation and tight legal control of products will continue. The fate of the global food system rests in the hands of consumers everywhere. Although this does sound like the tagline from the prequel to Water World, it is entirely true. How this plays out depends on three factors. First- Consumers need to become educated on what they are purchasing. If consumers blindly buy anything that has the word “organic” stamped on it without looking at the location it was produced, who produced it, what organic actually means for that crop or product. The purchase of organic Rice Crispies and Oreos has no positive effect on the world except making the consumer feel like they have made a difference. Any individual who understands the system will know that the only thing impacted by this purchase is their wallet. The premium paid for these types of feel-good products only serves to bolster the ballooning assets of food vendors. Second- The type of foods eaten by consumers needs to shift. Demand for items made with sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup, demand for local fruits and vegetables. Demand for things fueled by knowledge and what is best as opposed to what makes the consumer feel good. This is an uphill battle. The entirety of marketing relies on making people feel good about buying their product. Currently the majority of the monies available to leverage this marketing power are in the hands of these groups who do not desire to have these shifts occur. This element touches on culture and goes against the flow of money, which makes the outlook of this seem bleak. But, if the first point can be achieved and people become educated, the flow of money can also change directions and can push change as opposed to resisting it. Third- Growers and producers need to jump the gun. What I mean by this is they need to anticipate the change in public perception and make changes regardless of what the corporate entities want. This is almost impossible is almost worthy of ridicule for suggesting. But in fact, many items have been sold on manufactured demand, where the products were sold where originally people saw no need for them. The example of Bottled water is perfect; manufactured demand turned a niche market into a multi billion-dollar industry almost overnight. Producers of water created demand through advertising. Growers have the power to sell products to small firms and to farmer’s markets. If the second step happens and consumers desire new products that are actually better or cut out the middle men, and growers are not willing to sell directly to smaller companies or through farmers markets, the consumers will still be forced to go to the companies they are trying to be free of in the first place. That is the difficult thing about food; if one needs it, one cannot live without it. With bottled water, if someone desires to live without bottled water they can. In many cases, for many people, if they wanted to live without supporting this system, they would starve. This system is not unlike the company store system of the 19th century, which caused many people to become indebted to the corporations they worked for. The consumers at the end of the process, as well as the producer at the start both need to be willing to change simultaneously. If one changes and the other does not, nothing will happen. In sort, it appears that momentum is shifting away from supporting these systemic issues, but that does not guarantee that anything will happen. In my opining many of the changes that individuals are making are not going to have long-term positive consequences. It is uncertain of this trend will continue. If it does I am not optimistic, but if consumers take the next step in exploring how they eat and what we consume, there is hope.

 

Watch this video-

It’s a blue bird!

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Over the past months there has been a slew of events where people have ignored or overlooked the fact that agriculture is one of Michigan’s most important industries.

#2 to be exact.

Agriculture has been experiencing double-digit growth over the past several years.

It is now worth over 70 billion dollars to the state (2007 Data).

We grow more crops than any other state besides California.

About 25% of Michiganders are employed by agriculture/food related industry. (This seems big, but that is what my sources say)

People seem to think that agriculture is not important. This is incorrect and people in Michigan need to realize that we live in an agricultural state.

I feel like I am just writing a rant, but I wanted to remind people to do two simple things-
First-
Educate yourself and your children about agriculture. This does not need to be anything intense, but is as easy as taking your kids to the fair every year, if your kids are interested get them into 4H or FFA.
There have been several documentaries that have been produced over the past couple of years that would be good to watch. Two that come to mind are King Cornand Food Inc.
If you are into reading check out Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book “Eating Animals.”

Second-
Support Michigan Agriculture. Go to a local farm market, or if you go to Meijer or Wally World buy Michigan produce, they have it if you look for it. If you live in Lansing go to Horrock’s.

Healthy Agriculture- Healthy People-Healthy Environment- Healthy Michigan

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.
-Upton Sinclair

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8562895.stm

I have been to that market in Japan. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
I will let you decide if I mean that in a good way or in a bad way.

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