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View Diary: Grilled Michael Pollan, Coming Right Up (153 comments)

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  •  Food (6+ / 0-)

    A lot of farmers hate USDA policies and hate agribusiness. But a lot of those same farmers wind up siding with them, because they have a lot more ability to push their message than the other side is. Farmers are merely producing what and in what methods the ag department and their agribusiness allies encourage.

    I grew up in a small farm town in Minnesota. A lot of people assume that in such towns, people are eating a lot of fresh local produce, but most of the vegetables people ate there came from cans or from the freezer section. Acres and acres of monoculture made to produce animal feed, not food for humans.

    After reading Pollan's book, I picked up some ground beef that was from 100% grass-fed cows. It tasted so much better than the corn fed beef.

    Agribusiness is not the farmer's friend. We all eat, so we all need farmers. Those of us who want to eat better food, who want to eat food that makes the soil stronger rather than depleting it are no threat to farmers: after all, such food is going to be produced by farmers. But agribusiness would rather have us eat a manufactured food-like substance than to eat real food, it's simply more profitable.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:32:08 PM PDT

    •  you read my book yet? (8+ / 0-)

      But agribusiness would rather have us eat a manufactured food-like substance than to eat real food, it's simply more profitable.

      I include a quote like that from Hank Herrera:

      For the purpose of this new policy we offer the following definitions:

      Food
      Food is an edible plant or animal that grows, walks or swims on the earth and its waters with no genetic engineering, no hormone-driven growth, and no synthetic chemical substances to mimic natural qualities. Over millennia human metabolism and cultures have adapted to the foods growing in every ecological niche.

      Anything else is a MESS (Manufactured Edible Substitute Substance)
      Any edible substance other than real food is a MESS. A MESS has genetic engineering, hormone and antibiotic residue from concentrated production, and synthetic additives. Emerging research demonstrates that human metabolism cannot handle MESSes. MESSes subvert food cultures and food sovereignty. MESSes and the processes used in their manufacture and packaging contribute to the alarming toxic load that every human being now carries.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 08:35:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most ground beef (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, neroden

      is actually from grass fed cows. (Though there is also a lot of corn fed hamburger on the market too as feed lots fatten grass-fed cattle and older cows that make up the hamburger market.)  There's a reason for it: choice cuts of meat, what they call USDA Prime, almost always tastes better in most people's opinion when cattle is corn-fed, so hamburger tends to come from the dairy herd and the grass-fed herd, while big-ticket steaks are from corn. People just like the juicier, riper flavor of corn fed beef that can only be obtained by a few grass-fed producers, and usually at a hefty price relative to corn.  There are a growing number of niche producers who are learning the art of planting different grasses for "complex natural flavors," but this remains a small, elite, high-priced segment of beef production, like the dairy farmers who produce $20/lb. specialty cheeses for international competitions.  

      The economics conspire against the mainstream ever re-acquiring a taste for grass-fed beef as well.  Corn-fed beef matures and can be brought to market much quicker -- sometimes as little as 18 months, while grass fed cattle often take up to five years to grow from calf to market-sized animal. And unfortunately, the climate change legislation might even exacerbate the economics of beef still further away from grass. It is likely that carbon offsets will include providing additional income streams to feedlots and farmers who feed their cattle a diet of up to 40% distillers dried grains (DDGs) instead grass as well as corn and soymeal because DDGs, the high-protein byproduct of corn ethanol production, produces significantly less methane in beef livestock digestive systems.

      And to add insult to injury, GMO grains cause the price of farmland to increase because productivity per acre becomes so much higher. This means that, over time as farmland changes hands, GMOs make all land more expensive and farmers can only stay in business if they adopt the the most productive technologies for their land.  This causes the price of all alternative agricultural products -- organic, grass-fed, etc. -- to increase in price and remain only in reach for the well-to-do or those who are just really into healthy food and willing to sacrifice other things for it.

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