Nov 23, 2010

Globe misses the mark on food


Today’s Globe and Mail features an article about the farming crisis in Canada. On close inspection the “crisis” is that Canada has not kept up its share of the global marketplace; that is, it is about our failure to increase exports. Low farm incomes are mentioned with nostalgiac dismay but nothing of the large transnational companies that dominate seeds and fertilizers on the input side of the farm, nor anything about the market power of a handful of wholesalers and retailers on the output side of the farm.

At a time when local food movements are springing up, organic agriculture is booming, and nutritionists are joining with hunger activists, educators and foodies to rethink the food system, this is remarkably shoddy coverage. Oh, and did I mention peak oil and devastation of farm soils, or the cruelty to animals in Big Industrial Ag? Indeed, the cover picture is of a turkey farm – not turkeys out in the field, but packed in beak to breast inside a large covered barn where they get fattened up for slaughter without ever seeing the light of day. You can almost smell the feces, and taste the antibiotics that prevent them from mass illness. True, it is the Globe, and its ever-lowering standards of journalism. And just one story in a series, though it sure looks like the rest of the series plays into the same narrative.

Our recent Climate Justice paper, Every Bite Counts, tried to break out of the industrial growth paradigm by thinking about food through a climate lens, which tells us to more greatly value self-reliance and agricultural systems and practices that are not fossil fuel intensive. I also suggest a great series on food and agriculture in the Tyee by Colleen Kimmett, and a new publication from CCPA’s Saskatchewan office by Trevor Harriot if you are looking for an alternative to nonsense on the cover of the Globe.