24 June 2007

Globalized Agriculture and Third-World Farmers

Posted by John Freeland

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Photo by Nicksail

No need to feel guilty about growing your own food. On the contrary, you may help peasant farmers keep their sustaining piece of land.

The Environmental News Network picked up this article called Food Miles May Be Green, but Are They Fair? from Reuters. The thrust of the article suggests that the local food movement hurts the Third-World peasant farmer struggling to sell a crop.

Craig Mackintosh’s excellent article Food Miles or Fair Miles is a well-supported argument, essentially “fisking” the ENN and Reuters article. There are also some excellent comments following the article.

For me, the most poignant argument comes from India’s author and activist Verdana Shiva (emphasis mine):

“For those of you who feel troubled that the new certification consideration that food that has been flown in will not be certified by Soil Association, and you are feeling troubled about the farmer in Kenya, or the farmer in India, let me tell you, by the time huge volumes of exports happen in lettuce or beans or baby corn, the farmer is the first to go.

Their land is taken away and put in the hands of agribusiness. An agribusiness through corporate farming does the exports. It’s not peasants. The peasant was finished at the beginning of the process. So in fact by your refusing to add to food miles and add to carbon emissions you are in fact giving protection. You’re not just protecting the atmosphere, you’re protecting a peasant economy.”

Good luck with your gardens, folks!

Remember the best ferilizer is rain.