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It is an exceedingly well-done film, but I do not intend to review it. One of the points of focus is Polyface Farm and its proprietor, Joel Salatin.  As it happens, not only have I visited Polyface, as I wrote here, but on Saturday I got my first pickup from participation in one of the local Metropolitan Buying Clubs, and I had their breakfast sausage along with my pancakes this morning.

Others here, such as Jill, can write far more eloquently on the subject of our food supply.  That is important.  I will refer to parts of the film that deal with our food supply.

But the takeaway for me was far broader than merely the way our food is produced, and it on those additional areas that I wish to reflect.

Several things stood out for me.  In the not so distant past, 5 companies controlled around 20% of the meatpacking business in this country.  Now it is 4 companies, and they control far more - perhaps 70-80%.  To me that seems violative of the idea of anti-trust laws.  Of course, as we know, beginning with the Reagan administration and certainly accelerating during the last administration, the ability limit monopolies of any kind seems to have be eviscerated - we have certainly seen that in the expansion of ownership allowed by the FCC for example.  

And the meatpacking industry pales in comparison with Monsanto, which now controls some 90% of the seeds for soybeans.  Why that is not a subject for antitrust review is beyond me.

I am not a scientist.  Yet even with my limited knowledge and the childhood experience of growing fruits and vegetables, I know the dangers of monoculture - if there is a disease or a pest, the entire crop is often lost.  Our practices in food production seem to make us much more vulnerable to blights and infections, and while these might now occur naturally, it is not hard to imagine that an enemy could deliberately attack our agriculture in a similar fashion.

That would be a form of economic warfare.  Yet that is, effectively, what we are doing to other nations.  We distribute and sell corn at a price less than its production costs.  While we benefit, at least in theory, from lower prices, our massive production has the effect of putting out of business corn farmers in other nations, notably in Mexico, which contributes mightily to those attempting to come to this country, illegally as well as legally, in search of economic stability.

I was not surprised to see how much of our agriculture depends upon the labor of undocumented workers.  I know how heavily the meatpacking industry depends on those of Hispanic background, and those undocumented cannot join unions and have little opportunity for legal protections.  But it was more than shocking to see the pattern displayed for workers for Smithfield's Tarheel NC hog slaughterhouse, the world's largest meatpacking facility.  The people from Immigration do not raid the factory, where if they found "illegals" they would have little choice but to charge the management and ownership.  Instead they do middle of the night raids in the residences, grabbing perhaps a dozen or so workers at a time.  They can then claim to be "enforcing" immigration law, even as their actions in no way jeopardize Smithfield's ability to maintain a cheap and compliant workforce.  This is a form of economic warfare on the workers, and when we buy their products, we contribute to this.

The meatpacking companies and Monsanto have so much economic power they can use their deep pockets to bankrupt anyone who would try to stand up against them, even if the lawsuits they file might ultimately be shown to have no merit.  Their size and their wealth enable them to get laws and regulations written to benefit them and protect their economic interest even if in the process our health is put at risk, or possible competitors or alternatives are eliminated.  

Think about it - a few companies basically have a stranglehold on much of our food supply.  And if one wants to think beyond the parts of the economy examined in the film, we also know that corporations are attempting to control water supplies.  This is very true of multinationals and their operations in other nations, particularly those in the category of "developing" economies.  The hostility to anything governmental, a part of the Republican ideology since before Reagan, has also led to privatization of many functions in the US, such as selling toll roads to foreign companies.  I fully expect to see pressure put on localities to sell the municipal water systems that currently supply much of the nation's population with potable water.  

Were that to happen, the only thing necessary for survival not in the hands of for-profit entities would be air, and of course we know that many corporations do not want to be held accountable for how they pollute that, and thereby poison lakes and the environment in general.

And then there is "veggie libel."  As Oprah Winfrey found out, were one to criticize some aspects of food production, one faces the very real risk of being sued for disparaging and thereby causing economic harm, and in some cases the charges are not merely tort actions, but carry criminal penalties.  At the same time agricultural organizations argue against certain kinds of certification - such as not genetically modified, on the grounds that it implies products not carrying such labels are not safe.  Thus we are denied the opportunity to exercise our buying power as a market force that can direct corporations away from practices that we view as harmful, because we are denied the information necessary to make such choices.  Adam Smith's arguments for the market economy and its efficiency were, if I remember Wealth of Nations, dependent upon perfect information by all actors.  We, the consumers whose spending is so necessary to sustain our economy, are denied far too much information for the market system envisioned by Smith to work.  Which is why we need vigorous regulation, but that is a separate issue.

Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms Organic Yogurt appears in the film.  One key point he makes is that consumers can make a difference.  We are offered two examples.  One is Wal-Mart deciding to only buy rBGH-free milk, because that is what their customers want.  The other is the regulation of tobacco. Yet both of these were problems, with the Supreme Court rejecting an attempt by David Kessler of FDA to regulate tobacco as a drug, and strong attempts by dairy producers to prohibit the use of labels indicating product that were rBGH-free. Perhaps we can have some optimism because of some successes, but I wonder if the damage done before the successes are achieved are not too great to overcome.  I simply do not know.

I do know these things.

Our heavy use of petroleum to produce food is not in the long term sustainable.  We have to find ways that use less fossil fuels in the production of food.  That may require us as consumers to eat differently than we have been eating.

By government policy we subsidize unhealthy eating at the expense of healthy eating.  This leads to increases in obesity, Type II diabetes, and other health problems, which put great pressure on our health systems, and reduce the productive lives of many of our people.  At a time when we are attempting to extend health care to all, perhaps we need to be examining how we exacerbate the problem of health care by our food policy.

If we are supposed to be a market economy, then consumers need full information in order to exercise choice.  Laws and rules drawn to prevent such full disclosure are inimical to the free market system we ostensibly claim to want.  

The concentration of economic, political, - and thus legal - power in the hands of a small groups of companies is not healthy.  It is not healthy for a democracy.  It is not healthy for our health, because too many of those companies think only of maximizing short term profits, and not of the downstream costs they are imposing upon us all. That includes the environmental damage being done by the CAFOs, the concentrated animal feeding operations, with the massive amounts of animal waste that pollute soil and water, and lead to disease among the animals confined there.  It includes the health risks of the heavy use of antibiotics, leading to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  

We all have choices to make.  Sometimes our range of choice is limited by our economic circumstances, or our location.  Not everyone can afford to pay $3.00 or more a dozen for eggs from chickens who actually get to live as chickens.  Although I will say in my brief experience of Polyface eggs, they are tastier, and I need to eat less to satisfy myself.

But I cannot impose my choices upon others.  All I can do is try to act in a way that creates more choices for more people, to use what economic power I have in my purchase of food in a fashion that contributes to - how can I say this -  a better use of the resources that are applied in the process of my eating and drinking.  

The film cause me to think.  I knew something about these issues. I now know more, but still not enough.  

There are many threats to our well-being.  At this point I would have to say I am far less worried about "Islamofacism" and attacks from Al Qaeda than I am about the consequences of the concentration of economic power.  This is true in media, in food production, in far too many areas of our lives.  There are consequences for all of us.  

There is little more basic than eating.  If we can be threatened there, how are we secure?

Just a few of my reflections, recorded perhaps 6 hours after I finished watching the film.


Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:22 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  semi-automatic tip jar (166+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Ed in Montana, aisling, SteveLCo, northsylvania, itsbenj, Buckeye BattleCry, ogre, Rayne, Geenius at Wrok, ScientistMom in NY, RunawayRose, Bill Melater, Sherri in TX, Sandy on Signal, caliberal, Matilda, musicsleuth, LIsoundview, Heart of the Rockies, Cassandra77, sfgb, barath, Ignacio Magaloni, ClickerMel, Jesterfox, wader, DustyMathom, Ludi, emmasnacker, TexDem, Tracker, TX Scotia, lecsmith, Josiah Bartlett, weelzup, rapala, madaprn, Fabian, tovan, radarlady, Tinfoil Hat, UFOH1, JanetT in MD, irate, PBen, Alice Venturi, Simplify, dbsf, GreyHawk, cassidy3, sheddhead, rb608, Shotput8, alisonc, sodalis, ufw, jj24, JanL, Alan Arizona, Asinus Asinum Fricat, begone, berko, gwilson, althea in il, MissInformation, BlueInARedState, VictorLaszlo, DJShay, Sagebrush Bob, Preston S, myrealname, FiddleDeeDee, chapel hill guy, jjellin, B Amer, Russ Jarmusch, Loudoun County Dem, Margfh, Wino, newpioneer, Moderation, uciguy30, seancdaug, rmonroe, Milawe, Youffraita, indyada, bythesea, meerkoet, binkaroni, slapper95, Lujane, hwmnbn, envwq, temptxan, luckylizard, BYw, lenzy1000, dmhlt 66, mamamarti, wv voice of reason, JonBarleycorn, SciMathGuy, Bule Betawi, loftT, Neon Vincent, TheOtherJimM, velvet blasphemy, rini6, JesseCW, Mom in Maine, blueocean, Houston Gardener, D Wreck, A Voice, Shocko from Seattle, Leftcandid, Lazar, political junquie, SolarAngel, kcandm, p gorden lippy, fedupcitizen, miss SPED, foolknot, amk for obama, ydice, Hamsun, princss6, UTvoter, FrankCornish, legalchic, BonnieSchlitz, polar bear, Eddie L, catchlightning, elginblt, debbieleft, MsGrin, Floande, ZedMont, nyacker, angstall, kirbybruno, FarWestGirl, sharistuff, Sand Hill Crane, Dianasmom, tart tatine, smallgal, Lusty, lallard, jumpnfool, dle2GA, elusive muse, dakinishir, tardis10, CherryTheTart, spider webs unite, mali muso, dibsa, Dungaree, SweetLittleOkie, Ezekial 23 20, aerie star

    again, hoping this is of some value to someone besides me.  It is always of value in writing my thoughts, because in the process I clarify my own thinking.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:22:46 AM PDT

    •  I am teaching summer school (17+ / 0-)

      and due in the building bhy 7:30, although my students do not officially arrive until around 8:30.  Thus I am about to go into transit, and will catch up with this when I can.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:36:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't shoot! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seancdaug, ShadowSD, xysea, mamamarti

      Guns don't kill people. Tip jars do.

      An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

      by rini6 on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:48:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This really hits home for me (18+ / 0-)

      I've been having severe medical problems including a diagnosis of diabetes. I have completely changed how and what I eat and from where. I didn't know what feeling good felt like until I changed how and what I ate.

      I'm fortunate because I can take advantage of a local farmers market. I also just prepared meat I purchased from a ranch made up of 3 families raising their product on grass only. And yes, those $3.99/dozen eggs I had for breakfast did taste better.

      You said we had a choice. That's true for some. But, unfortunately, many people don't have the income to be able to take advantage of that choice.

      Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. - Roger C. Andersen

      by jumpnfool on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:38:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My argument is there is no (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, jjellin, loftT, princss6, dle2GA

        earthly reason they should cost $3.99 except that these conglomerates make it so, so that their products are cheaper and more affordable by comparions.  Except, they're probably killing you slowly.

        That organic is more expensive than pesticide, genetically altered or hormone containing products is crazy - those things are expensive, growing organic is not.  For less than $100 investment on my organic plot, I have reaped more than $600 in good quality healthy produce.   It barely cost me anything.

        I'm sick of GOP SOP!

        by xysea on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:31:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You forget your labor (16+ / 0-)

          If you were to farm commercially, you would have to include the cost of labor, and farming organically is extremely labor intensive.

          I know, I have an organic practicing (although not yet certified) farm.

          Eggs are a good example.  We have free-range, pasture-raised chickens, and the first thing you have to consider is that you have to move their coop nearly every other day.  Otherwise the build-up of droppings would scorch the grass.  You have to use a tractor or an atv to move the coop, and that takes gas.  You have to get the tractor out of the barn, take it to the coop, hook it up, move the coop, move the fence, then take the tractor back.  Easily an average of half an hour's labor every day.

          Then, even with temporary electric fences, you are going to have a much higher loss of birds through predation than is you kept them in a permanent and more secure enclosure.

          And lastly, given range, the chickens will lay where they feel like it - not necessarily in the nice little boxes you made for them.

          If it took you an hour to find those dozen eggs, how much would you charge for them?

          •  makes sense to me (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neon Vincent, miss SPED, princss6

            I enjoy our fresh eggs more (even if I eat less of them). Way worth the effort! Plus, you learn things from the farmers. I had no idea there were coyotes in our little township (in Western Pennsylvania), for example... or that they reside on one side of the highway, but not the other.

            Does 47 million uninsured make us too big to fail?

            by musicsleuth on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:37:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Even as a backyard producer (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pescadero Bill, xysea, princss6

            If I were to sell my 3 girls' eggs, I'd have to sell them for about $1 each to break even: feed, bedding, water, repairs to coop, time spent cleaning the coop, etc.  

            "Right wing freak machine" General Wes Clark

            by Tracker on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:38:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Truth is, food is not supposed to be cheap (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neon Vincent, elginblt

            and shopping for it should not be carefree. What foods you gathered and consumed was meant to be an important consideration and decision. What you shovel in to your mouth and ask your body to digest and distribute throughout you body is crucial to good health.

            We've become a society where we consider the role of shopping for and consuming of food to be; buy as much as possible, as cheap as possible, eat until we feel gorged. And the corporate food producers have both fed in to that food consumption mentality, and become very good at providing us with the cheapest calories per dollar possible.

            Now it's straining America's waistline and healthcare system.

            Shop for organic foods and hit those farmer's markets. You will no doubt walk away with less food per dollar spent, but it will be better food and reflect more closely the quantities of it we were meant to eat.

            Maybe as a mental exercise people could think of shopping in the organic food stores or farmer's markets as being like foraging in the forests and fields for dinner and earning the reward of eating well, rather then speed shopping in what amounts to sugar saturated candy factories that are the conventional food stores.

            To whom it may concern. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is illegal. Sincerely, A. No Brainer.

            by Pescadero Bill on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:44:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  To some degree I get what you're saying - (0+ / 0-)

              however the fact is that it's a competitve world out there and re-educating people is difficult.

              How many people are going to give up cable TV so they can eat more organic produce and free range eggs?  I'll warrant not many.

              I'm sick of GOP SOP!

              by xysea on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 01:57:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  As everyone is saying (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xysea, Neon Vincent

          It's labor intensive when it's not an automated, high-volume enterprise. It's not expensive because it wears an organic label, it's expensive because of the method used.

          Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. - Roger C. Andersen

          by jumpnfool on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 08:09:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's worth what you'll pay for it... (0+ / 0-)

          ...there is no such thing as an intrinsic price, some fixed percentage above the cost of production. No, the cost is set relative to the alternative. Demographic research by producers and empirical consumer feed-back have shown just who is willing to pay extra and how much, for a product that has qualities physically indistinguishable from "conventional" alternatives.

          It's not what it's worth, it's what it is worth to you...

          (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

          by Enterik on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 11:21:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I ate homegrown organic food because we were poor (5+ / 0-)

        and could not afford "store-bought" food when I was growing up in post-war Germany. Food security was a family enterpriose and we never went hungry. Every family member worked in the garden every day, including us children after school, and we were rewarded with lots of vegetables for eating fresh, canning, and pickling, fruit for juice, jams, compotes, syrups and drying and herbs for seasoning, teas and medicinals.

        We raised our own chickens and some neighbors shared ownership of a single cow and we bought whole milk from them and made our own cheese and butter.

        My grandparents had a pond and we fished and caught frogs to add to our diet. I once brought an apron full of slugs home thinking we could have snail--I heard they were a delicacy--but my mother refused that particular offering. I worked at a neighboring farm beginning at the age of 9 and brought home food on a regular basis.

        We picked wild blueberries, blackberries, hazelnuts and mushrooms in the woods -- and what fun that was! My father taught us to identify foodstuff in the wild and we munched on sorrel, lambs salad (mache), wild onions, chickweed, dandelion greens, wild mustard, and cowslip blossoms while playing in the fields.

        We only had meat on Sundays, and then not much of it. I was shocked when I came to the US and saw how much meat people consumed during a single meal--enough to feed a family of four for a week!

        My mother, who knew real hunger during the war years, did not permit any food to be wasted, not even an apple core. A reverence for food was drilled into us, and we never took it for granted or complained about what was on our plates.

        People can feed themselves if they have access to good soil, plentiful water and the necessary knowledge about raising and preserving food. So protect your community's green spaces and rural areas and educate yourself as much as possible about sustainable gardening, raising livestock (urban chicken coops are the rage!), and food preservation. And don't forget to fight against homeowner's association rules, municipal ordinances and state legislation that would take away your right to feed yourself and your family by imposing restrictions on your ability to grow your own food!

        I have won the War on Terror, and so can you. Simply refuse to be afraid.

        by heiderose1 on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 08:15:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  students about to arrive (4+ / 0-)

      my attention to this is about to become sporadic.  I thank all who have chosen to join the discussion, which I have found quite interesting.

      Thanks to those who considered this worthy enough of elevation to the Rec list.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:21:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chipotle is sponsoring free showings of FOOD INC (12+ / 0-)

      in many cities around the country.  You can look for one near you here.

      From their founder, Steve Ellis:

      I hope that all our customers see this film.  The more they know about where their food comes from, the more they will appreciate what we do.

    •  "Food Inc." isn't even being shown out here (6+ / 0-)

      in the Breadbasket. Not even in Madison, Wis. Gee, I wonder why?

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:58:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am interested in your comments (16+ / 0-)

    especially if you also have seen the movie.  Even if you have not, perhaps something I have written evokes a response from you that you would be willing to share with me and whomever else reads the diary?


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:34:28 AM PDT

    •  rBST and wal-mart... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, Neon Vincent, bvig

      I think it's great that the film makers are trying to encourage consumers, and they aren't entirely wrong...but -

      First, rBST isn't cost effective for dairy farmers.  My wife's uncle used it and lost profit.

      He wound up spending more to treat cows who went lame and got mastitis, and wound up spending a lot more on semen because rBST reduces fertility.  Overall mortality went up in his herd, too.

      Even though milk production went up 10%, his profit margin went down considerabely.

      So, like most dairy operators, he quit using it.  From what he told me, and he does get dairy association newsletters that cover the issue, only about 25% of milk was comming from cows treated with it in mid 2007.

      As Kroger and Safeway and others quit selling rBST milk in late 2007/early 2008, I'm sure that percentage dropped even more before wal-mart "decided" to stop selling a product that probably wasn't even being offered by their suppliers.

      Haven't seen the film yet, but fully intended to.

      Crush the Horror.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:03:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some issues with it (0+ / 0-)

      At one point an industry type says the current system is great because it efficiently uses land and other resources. Of course this ignores all sorts of problems, but he has a point -- if we tried to revert to free-range beef, hog, and poultry production, we'd run out of space quick. The West is full of washed-out gullies and other scars from overgrazing 100 years ago, and if you've every seen Civil War pictures, you immediately notice an absence of trees, because most of the East, including erodable mountains, were pasture. One of the reasons the Appalachians have been so poor for so long is that damage done by trying tp pasture animals there. Going back to that model isn't feasible -- if the land issue isn't convincing, consider that the greenhouse gas emissions from free-range production may actually be higher than those for CAFOs, due to the latter's ability to digest manure -- yet the scenes featuring the chatty, open-air butchering Virginia farmer seem to suggest a return to some bucolic past.

      Really the only way out of this is to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy. Sorry if that sounds extreme, but that is the only solution I can see, short of reducing the human population to 18th century levels. It's been several months since I saw the film, but I don't think it ever goes there, which is a major hole in the presentation.

  •  Time to plant our own gardens (35+ / 0-)

    and re-learn the art of growing things. In the suburbs we can reclaim our lawns, and in the cities, our rooftops, balconies and fire escapes. It's a great lesson for kids and gives us tools to survive the corporate takeover of agriculture.

    OK, I confess my own effort (my first!) this year is pretty sad. My carrots & beets seem doomed, and the cat keeps lying on the pea plants, which have yet to flower. The compost pile smells awful, and it's harder keeping the crabgrass out than I would have believed. It's work!

    But I've learned an awful lot. And next year it will be a better garden! Thanks for posting this, teacherken.

    •  there is a problem in our neighborhood (13+ / 0-)

      with attempting to have a veggie garden.  Although Arlington is quite densely populated, with about 200,000 people in our 26 square miles, we have a lot of wildlife.  About 1/3 of a mile away is a beaver pond, where one can even see herons!.  Once during a blackout as part of a heavy rainstorm I saw an otter come out of the storm sewer go up the street and come back.  We have the usual share of raccoons and possums.

      And the problem for gardens is that there are fair amount of rabbits around the past few years.  Last year they were somewhat under control because we had at least one coyote -  I know because I encountered him one evening.  Anyhow, one would have to have wire fence where one is growing.

      And even then, our ubiquitous squirrels are very good at defeating defensive measures.

      Don't know - perhaps next year I will follow you and make an attempt.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:52:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A family dog! (12+ / 0-)

        With rabbits, a large territorial cat can also keep them away.  

        •  several problems (8+ / 0-)

          1 -  we are sometimes gone for 14 hours at a time, cannot have a dog under those conditions, it would be cruel

          2 -  even if we had a dog, and could leave out during the day, or night, our yard is not easily subject to fencing

          Again, we may attempt a garden next year.   There are some neighbors who can help with the chicken wire necessary to keep the rabbits out.

          So far I have not seen deer in our neighborhood, although a friend in McLean  saw one in his garden a few years back.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:13:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  and we do not allow our cats to roam (9+ / 0-)

          besides the occasional coyote and similar presence of foxes, there are too many dogs who run loose, and there is way too much traffic.   Those neighbors who make the mistake of allowing their cats to roam find that their lives are often significantly shorter.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:16:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cats kill birds, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, Lujane

          so there can be unintended consequences.

          •  we can see this in our five cats (2+ / 0-)

            who go nuts when there are birds or squirrels just outside the front door (when opened to the screen with feeders just outside) or the windows

            I remember with previous cats when a mouse got in to the house, that rather than kill it, they would play with it -  chasing it and trapping it by the tail,  picking it up in the mouth, carrying it, then releasing it so they could chase it again.  They were so focused they were knocking things over all over the house, just like they do when chasing a moth.

            One of our current cats once pushed out a cracked small window pane and was going out and coming back and presenting us with dead voles.   Now that got me to replacing that pane awfully quickly.

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:42:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a solution you may be able to use (11+ / 0-)

        SQ FT Garden
        The chicken wire covers really keep out the critters. I want to see this movie. "King Corn" was a real eye opener for me.  We do buy most everything to eat locally. We are really lucky to have one of the top farmer's market in the country here. Tonight we had some fried rock cod (50 miles to the coast), roasted new potatoes and salad (all grown in our county) with a made from scratch tarragon/white balsamic dressing for dinner. We get to eat like this from April to December.
        Eat in season and don't get anything with high fructose corn syrup in it and you will be mostly there. I'm worried about the food chain, too.

        An eye for and eye makes the whole world blind - Mahatma Gandhi. Find me and my recipes @

        by TX Scotia on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:15:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's interesting that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Margfh, mamamarti, blueocean

        people in developed areas have more trouble with wildlife than those in more rural areas.  We regularly see deer in our backyard, but they don't seem to bother our garden (knock on wood).  My husband planted a pretty good sized plot of flax at the end of our garden because he knows the deer love flax.  Maybe that's what is protecting our garden, because they just don't seem to go there.  

        •  There is a balance. (4+ / 0-)


          Where there is no predator pressure, there will be ample prey.  The prey will eat as much food as possible, reproduce quickly and the cycle keeps going until lack of food or disease limits the population.

          Ironically, white tailed deer actually do better now than they did when the Europeans colonized the continent.  Mature forests provide little for deer to eat, shrubs and saplings provide far more.  Plus the scarcity of apex predators.

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:17:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fabian, myrealname

          I live in a rural area and would need a plant prison extending a foot below ground and 8 ft in the air to keep the wildlife away from a vegetable garden.  Everyone in town who has a successful vegetable garden has an 8-ft. fence around it.  I would be shocked if the deer didn't soon find your garden and take advantage of it.

          •  Wow, I hope you're (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            miss SPED

            wrong!  FWIW, we have been gardening since we lived here (35 years)and have had little damage from wildlife, and none of the neighbors fence in their gardens.  I don't know why and I don't know if our luck will hold.  Since there's a corn field across the road, the flax my husband planted, and plenty of green grass, that seems to keep the deer satisfied, I guess.

          •  Arid regions... (0+ / 0-)

            If you irrigate your anything, be it vegetable garden or landscaping, then your lush green plot will always be a garden of eating in the midst of a desert.

            People gardening in high rainfall regions are better off because their plot of green dwells in the midst of other green things, not brown things.

            Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

            by Fabian on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:33:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  at the allotment where I garden (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, Fabian, miss SPED

        people are trying all sorts of ways of protecting plants from critters. I've seen chicken wire arced over beds, with end caps cut to fit and attached with twisty ties, various types of nets, coldframes for tender seedlings (you can make these out of old windows that are still in their frames and a bit of scrap wood), and of course polytunnels and greenhouses. Raised beds are also somewhat safer from bunnies.

        I'm the last one to talk about being a good gardener though, my allotment is in a right state!

        Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
        "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

        by expatyank on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:25:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A rabbit ate all my parsley! (5+ / 0-)

        Left the other herbs alone, but loved the lettuce and the parsley.  I had to get myself a rabbit-proof fence!

        I'm sick of GOP SOP!

        by xysea on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:34:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rabbits... Yummy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fabian, xysea

          If we can't kill and eat something as tasty and prolific of a pest as a rabbit, why should we be relying on the 'bad' stuff to be happening behind the walls of industrial slaughterhouses for our chicken, pork, and beef?  Where (and when) I grew up, you would never see flocks of geese pecking away at parks and golf courses or deer roaming in one's back yard.

          There was at least one slaughterhouse within driving distance and it had a glassed in mezzanine where the customers could watch the operation.  I remember getting to see the killing area but I don't remember if was as accessible as the dressing area.

      •  What worked for us is an inexpensive (0+ / 0-)

        wire fence about two feet tall that kept most rabbits out.  We also found that they like to eat the young plants but not the slightly more mature ones, so we cut the bottom out of large, clear plastic cups (the disposable kind some fast food places use) and put those over the new plants.  We bent sections of wire coat hangers and put them over the rims of the cups to hold them in place.  The cups are about 8" or 9" tall.  Once the plants outgrow the cups, the rabbits don't seem interested any more.

        Another defensive measure that helps is to pour urine around the edge of the garden.

    •  There is also wild food (6+ / 0-)

      There are quite a few wild food books out there that can teach you how to gather your own food. You'd be surprised at just how delicious and plentiful it is.

    •  The Hermit (8+ / 0-)

      Some co-workers returning from a hunting trip picked up a hitchhiker from Tug Hill in the Adirondacks.  The fellow was making a (semi-annual? annual?) shopping trip from his (cabin? cave? whatever).

      The man knew nothing much about what was going on in the rest of the world.  Apparently he didn't even have a radio.

      Consider if you will that the gentleman lived quite independently compared to nearly all of us around the world.  His garden and game and whatever he gathered from the wild provided food and fuel

      But then he was making a shopping trip because still he needed things he couldn't produce or gather.

      And he had to depend on others for transportation.

      For sure, grow a garden.  Convert waste to ethanol like one acquaintance said he did for fuel.

      But none of us are an island.

      Might want to think on that occasionally.

      Best,  Terry

      •  Believe me when I tell you (7+ / 0-)

        that I would definitely not want to be on an island with my own pathetic attempt at a garden! I would surely starve.

        No, no, I merely meant that agricultural knowledge and skills are fading from human consciousness as corporations consolidate the seeds and mechanize the process. And it can be a great learning experience, though admittedly painful...

        •  Painful Is It? (5+ / 0-)

          I definitely do not have a green thumb but I did not find gardening painful.

          One of the finer things we did was make cider with our own press.  There was never finer cider ever since the apples were - umm - often protein enriched and not so fresh.  There was undoubtedly some alcohol content even before aging.

          Then a wind blew all our apples trees down and cider has never been the same.

          Everybody knows how much better fresh-picked corn tastes but how many know the delight of fresh asparagus?

          I could go on but you get the picture.

          I remember my mother long ago being - how shall I put it - "distressed" when a herd of new horses ran through her garden.  I can only imagine what it is like for an African farmer who has a herd of elephants go through his garden.

          Yeah it can be painful - like when all your apple trees are toppled by a wind.

          Hunted deer once but now I would not even consider shooting the deer that are even in our driveway sometimes.

          Once they came for the apples. :-)

          Best,  Terry

    •  Gardening requires (7+ / 0-)

      knowledge, lots of work and love.  We have the best garden we've had in years because we're retired and my husband has spent lots of time on it and because he takes great pride in it.  It isn't easy, though.  I have a small garden plot of my own, but I don't enjoy gardening as much as he does, and it's obvious when you look at my feeble efforts as compared to his.  I should stick to container gardening!

    •  Wanted to post the same thing.... (9+ / 0-)

      In Philly, there are thousands of vacant lots!  I just started a Garden/"urban farm" in conjunction with my nephews school.  One of our goals is to persuade others to begin to grow their own garden.  We started about a month ago and it is amazing how far we have come.

      We built five raised beds and were able to get the materials to fill our beds, mostly through donations.  The students have been involved in the process from the start.  We are growing  tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, spinach, zucchini, watermelon and have a pumpkin patch, only with mint!  

      We definitely want to give workshops to show that intensive farming isn't that hard.  The area where we started the garden has no grocery store for miles.  I am so excited about our progress and feel that we can fill a very small void for the residents, albeit it a small void.  Mainly if we can convince at least more people to start at least one container of fresh veggies, we will be happy!

    •  Keep practicing. (4+ / 0-)

      Yes there are lean years, but keep going.  There are potatoes growing right now that I thought died out a long time ago, and I have lettuce that's come back, too.   And that's in my container garden at home, not my organic plot.

      It gets better, and just remember - plants want to live.  lol

      I put myself on a schedule, if that helps.  I am a busy single mom, who is often tired in the evenings.  I had to write down what days to do watering, what days to weed.  It's not that much work if you stagger it.  What is a hell of a lot of work is to let it go for a week or two, then try to do it all.  It's not good for you, or the plants, or your enjoyment of gardening.


      I'm sick of GOP SOP!

      by xysea on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:33:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a new gardener.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am amazed at plants desire to live.  It helps that our plot gets over 14 hours of direct sun but geez, I am often speechless at the wonder of it all.  Our pumpkin patch is thriving incredibly well!  We even have some cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine.  

    •  i think that gardening is key for the poor who (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the film, cannot afford broccoli.  
      i also hope that the obama admin. will consider farm subsidies for small local biodynamic farms, so that we can push the window even further away from large corporate.  my new bumper sticker needs to be, "subsidize broccoli!"
      hope obama sees it and invites that great farmer, joel salatin, and that desperate,  female former chicken grower to dinner at the white house!

      I died for Arlen Specter's sins.

      by stagemom on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:54:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  seeds are genetically modified (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unless you get the organic, heirloom type. Even so, cross-polination can be a problem. It's astonishing how much of our food supply is already corrupted and even if you want to do it yourself the obstacles are huge.

      But of course you should garden! I do and we eat our vegetables out of the garden most nights. It's a great thing to do. We make our own compost and it's the best feeling in the world to feed yourself.

    •  Regarding the compost pile (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm no expert, but I've heard that if the compost smells, you don't have enough "brown" stuff in there, like leaves & grass. Too much of that stuff will slow down the decomposing, but not enough will make the compost smell. I think newspaper works for brown stuff too. There is a lot of info online about composting, so you should be able to get help there.

      •  The one time our compost pile "smells" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is in spring, in the couple warm weeks when all the winter additions start fermenting because the little critters haven't geared up yet.  After enough warm weather, the little critters (bugs, fungus, bacteria) have multiplied to the point that they can break down the organic/green matter before it gets stinky.

        You need "brown stuff" to balance the "green stuff".  Technically this is called the "carbon (brown) to nitrogen (green) ratio".  You can supply carbon rich, nitrogen poor "brown stuff" to your compost pile by adding in shredded newspaper, used paper towels, toilet paper rolls, paper napkins, coffee grounds&filters, or tea bags if you don't have leaves to add in. Even used cotton swabs.  (Not the plastic ones.)

        My mother doesn't do this because her bins fill up fast enough as it is, but anyone with a large bin can do this.  If you have a leaf bin (highly suggested if you rake leaves), then you can just toss in some leaves or leaf mold every time you feed the compost bin.

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 09:35:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've been dying to see this. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tovan, mamamarti, miss SPED, CherryTheTart

    It sounds pretty balanced to me. On the fiction side of the movie spectrum, go see Moon I can't say enough good things about this. Sorry for getting OT. Backyard gardens and roof top gardens sound like a wonderful idea for those that it is convenient for.

  •  This is the paragraph that spoke to my condition. (17+ / 0-)

    There are many threats to our well-being.  At this point I would have to say I am far less worried about "Islamofacism" and attacks from Al Qaeda than I am about the consequences of the concentration of economic power.  This is true in media, in food production, in far too many areas of our lives.  There are consequences for all of us.  

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:48:27 AM PDT

  •  Heritage seeds for your vegetable garden (13+ / 0-)

    To preserve a diversity of vegetables, you might be interested in using heritage seeds.  This link gives some suppliers:

    We've always been very happy with organic seed from Vesey's on Prince Edward Island (the growing conditions there are definitely a good match for us.)  They don't specialize in heritage.

    Thanks for a nice diary.

  •  So many of our problems (9+ / 0-)

    are connected to each other.

    Each time I began to consider possible solutions I seem to face the necessity of tearing down some of what we were once so proud to build.

    I then wonder if other civilizations came across this problem as they grew or evolved.  

    I think of the so called "Blue Zones" and consider how many of those are in places where progress failed to thrive.  

    Can we go backwards?  Is that a possible solution?  Perhaps I am simply getting older.  I no longer see value in every forward step.  

    This is the most important legislation of my lifetime and I'll be goddamed if some corporate shills will stick their blood soaked knives into it. - nyceve

    by blueocean on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 02:53:32 AM PDT

  •  You asked for testimony. (13+ / 0-)

    We have food activists in Philly.

    They took a vacant city block, soon to be blocks, in the city and turned it into a garden business. They sell their own strawberries. Yum. I bought my one Roma tomato from them.

    We have one of the best natural food coops in the state named Weaver's Way. WW is now growing fresh organic produce in Fairmount Park, one of the largest public parks in the nation. They buy from organic food producers from our state and the nation.

    I have a small garden. The flowers and herbs and veggies all grow together in a glorious hodgepodge. When I make a filet of pork, I use my own sage. I grow basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano and use them fresh from the garden.

    All this creativity gives me encouragement, inspiration, and good eating. If I had more room, I would keep a chicken or two. My grandmother fed seven children with her egg money.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:00:26 AM PDT

    •  You would make an excellent neighbor. (10+ / 0-)

      Instead I'm stuck with Mr. Grumpy and his chemical heaven.  

      I can't prove it but I know my neighbors dump weed killer in our retention pond.  It breaks my heart each time I notice the cattails turn brown, wilt and die.

      The retention pond is a source of much pleasure for me.  We occasionally have an otter, various Blue Herons, egrets, turtles and other wildlife visible from my back patio.

      I'd love to have a neighbor with chickens.  

      This is the most important legislation of my lifetime and I'll be goddamed if some corporate shills will stick their blood soaked knives into it. - nyceve

      by blueocean on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:20:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good neighbor. (7+ / 0-)

        I know a local chef who does keep chickens, ducks and the occasional turkey in the back yard of a row house in Philly. For eating, not pets. Sorry, vegetarian friends. She sell chicks in the Spring on Frankford Ave. Her eggs are good, if you can pry a few away from her.

        I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

        by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:28:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we just learned (8+ / 0-)

          that the folks who own the natural gas pipeline which runs through my father-in-law's land, where our garden is came through and sprayed
          the adjoining trees are dying
          they have an easement, yes, but not pull this kind of crap
          our garden is right up against the pipeline and seems unaffected (it's actually the other side that's got the stunted plants on it)

          larger point, the important point, is that we have to take control of what we eat, and who grows it

          right now this feels like a fad, in its broadest outlines, but I'm hopeful that enough people will get the taste for farm eggs and real meat, that enough heirloom seeds will be saved, that enough of the knowledge of organic pest control and soil amendments is built and preserved that we'll be able to get by

          I'm less hopeful that anything meaningful will be done about the enormous corporations which are slowly choking the life...

          "Good Lord, how can the rich bear to die?" -- Nikos Kazantzakis

          by Shocko from Seattle on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:40:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I so agree with you. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            teacherken, Lujane, mamamarti, princss6

            I live in a section in Philly that is predominantly working class. Three out of five people who live here cannot read. They are the salt of the earth, as Jesus said. They don't come to DailyKos to read our discussions.

            If they understood how they were being manipulated and shown the way you recommend they fight back, they would be a potent force for good. The poor are not stupid. Just poor. And we see the forces at play that have put many there. One force is inadequate schools and inadequate services to folks who learn differently.

            I agree that there is no substitute for creative nonviolent resistance in moving us all forward. Did you know that you do not need a lawyer to sue the company that poisoned that area? Ordinary citizens have supeona (sp?) power. Or at least we used to. It would be good to cost the behemoths money defending themselves. Does not matter if you win. But it does take time. Will not work if you are working everyday.

            Sorry for the rant, I really care about this. And I come from immigrants who survived the Depression by developing self sufficient ways to feed themselves. These skills have been lost to us.

            I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

            by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:24:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  My guess is that their (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, Shocko from Seattle

            easement allows them to clear it of vegetation.  Maybe you could get a copy of their easement and find out just what methods are approved.

      •  Afterthought to your fine comment. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jj24, Lujane, JesseCW, blueocean

        Mr. Grumpy and his chemical heaven might want to think about the water table. Where does he thing those chemicals go. Maybe he imagines they just go Poof?

        I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

        by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:59:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Report the pond (0+ / 0-)

        incident to the proper authorities.  This is illegal and dangerous.

    •  The more we support these folks.... (9+ / 0-)

      ...and by that I mean all variety of "alternative" food systems, be they farmers markets, organic producers, CSAs, etc. etc....the better off we will be.  The small (& often struggling) producers get our cash, the mega-corp ag businesses don't, and we get good healthy food in return.  

      Voting with your dollars -- and also spreading the word to friends and family -- are two of the most potent weapons we have.

      All the children of your children's children, do you ever think what they're going to find? Make tomorrow, today...

      by willy mugobeer on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:21:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The question is how do you control people (4+ / 0-)

    who want to do their own thing, especially if you've been taught to believe that "man prefers leisure and must be bribed to work" and consider bribery to be immoral?  
    The only alternative to a bribe or promise of reward is a threat and it has to be one that's palpable--empty threats don't work.  So, what you're left with a threat to a man's survival that doesn't actually kill (dead men don't work) and isn't so drastic as to spark a revolt--i.e. the threat of starvation (those who don't work don't eat).  And for that to be effective, you have to be able to control/monopolize the food supply.

    You can even give some away for free because that doesn't interfere with control.

    Oddly enough, our commitment to private property rights, combined with the designation of corporate entities as private persons has facilitated the promotion of the interests of the monopolists.

    The idea that I've come up with recently is that every right is supported by an obligation.  So, for example, the right to own property exclusively (keep other people out) comes with an obligation to share the fruits of that property.  Moreover, in the event its use or fruitfulness is abandoned, the property needs to revert to public asset status and redistributed, if appropriate, to those who use it well.  Think of the olive tree that bears no fruit.

    There's no point in speculating, btw, how those bent on exercising control could/should be eliminated.  The manipulation of other people is a useful human attribute and promotes the social ordering of the population.  Where it becomes more detrimental than helpful is when control becomes an obsession, an addiction.  That's when we need an intervention--i.e. legislative restrictions.  
    Perhaps we could come up with a formula which allows us to decide that a non-governmental corporation of a certain size is actually quasi-governmental and subject to tighter public regulation.  As it stands now, people are setting up all sorts of "private" corporations, including eleemosynary ones, to escape public regulation.  Some are even willing to forgo profit to avoid being told what to do.

    That I don't subscribe to the assumption I started with doesn't matter.  Enough people do believe it and aim to direct public policy in accord with it.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:04:20 AM PDT

    •  asdf. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, princss6, CherryTheTart

      So, for example, the right to own property exclusively (keep other people out) comes with an obligation to share the fruits of that property.

      Back in my grandfather's day this was called being neighborly.  They shared with each other.  They traded.  

      When is the last time any of our neighbors knocked on the door to borrow a cup of anything?

      We are all so very self sufficient now.  Hurray!  Progress!

      This is the most important legislation of my lifetime and I'll be goddamed if some corporate shills will stick their blood soaked knives into it. - nyceve

      by blueocean on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:04:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It still happens in some parts of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, CherryTheTart

        country, but is actively discouraged by those who perceive a benefit in an atomized population.  People getting together and forming a consensus are a threat to established authority.  Just look at what happened when people organized to elect progressive representatives!  

        In a very real sense, privatization aimed/aims to atomize society because people acting singly are powerless.  When Howard Dean came along with his "you have the power," he challenged established authority in both political parties and the non-governmental corporate world.  We forget that all governmental entities are corporations and that what distinguishes the public corporation from the private is that membership in the first is based on residence, while membership in the second has to be purchased.  In other words, the private corporation is a vehicle for giving power to people with money.  

        Money, it turned out, after other kinds of exclusive behavior on the basis of inherited characteristics were ruled out of bounds, is a much more effective way to exclude people whom you don't like for other reasons.  It's not only possible to restrict their access to money (the coin of the realm); it's possible to relieve them of their money surreptitiously with chicanery, exploitation and outright theft and the whole enterprise looks like it's entirely objective because, after all, everyone has the potential to acquire money and hold on to it.  Right?

        Don't get me wrong.  I'm all in favor of money.  But, like any good thing, it can be abused and abused it is.  What's not generally realized, I think, is that the abuse doesn't lie in the accumulation, it lies in the deprivation.  When people are deprived of wages that are adequate to sustain themselves, their labor and their off-spring, then they're being deprived.  That the deprivation is legal doesn't change the effect.  It's exactly the same as when a mugger lifts your wallet or a merchant charges blacks more than whites.
        Money makes it easier to discriminate because money is hard to trace.

        That more people are impoverished as the thrust for equality has increased is not a happenstance.  The hereditary elite simply transformed themselves into the moneyed elite and managed to extract more and more of it from the general populace.  If you want hard evidence, look to the systematic conversion of the equity that people had accumulated in their homes into cash to purchase newer replacements of less actual value (in terms of quality).  This agenda got its start in the "urban renewal" program of the '80s which aimed to thin urban populations out and remove them to the suburbs where privatized services that used to be public claimed more of their earnings.  The transfer of public assets into private wealth had many facets.  What was started in the '80s then morphed into mass relocations as the infra-structure in established communities was allowed to wear out by starving the communities of tax revenues to keep them up.  And it didn't just happen in the cities.  Thousands of towns and hamlets in the heartland were left to crumble and, if they're lucky, be gobbled up by industrial agriculture for pennies on the dollar.

        Barack Obama priming the pump by throwing money into the country was a good thing.  For one thing, it showed that what's important is not how much, but not enough.  Without money we can't mediate our transactions and where it comes from doesn't really matter.  That's going to be true in the health care arena, as well.   The only problem, so far, seems to be that as quick as Washington throws money in, the moneyed elite suck it back out.  After all, the money is their key to social control and that's what being in the elite is all about.  We can't have the public calling the shots.

        How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

        by hannah on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:20:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Water privatization (13+ / 0-)

    Several cities worldwide have already privatized their water systems.  

    Some years back, the city of Atlanta privatized their system in a deal with United Water but canceled the deal after a few years.  United water operates systems in about half of the states.

    Privatized infrastructure - a really, really bad idea!

    -4.9, -5.7. Hominem unius libri timeo (I fear the man of one book) - Saint Thomas Aquinas

    by envwq on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:07:02 AM PDT

  •  Vegan (11+ / 0-)

    May I suggest going vegan? The quality of my health and life have so dramatically improved.

  •  Action alert from CREDO re: Monsanto (12+ / 0-)

    It's not just here; Monsanto wants to force GMOs on the rest of the world as a condition of our food aid.  See action alert from CREDO here:

    Tell your senators: Monsanto can't feed the world

    In a promising move, the G8 -- a group of the world's eight wealthiest nations -- has just announced a shift away from providing direct food aid to developing countries and towards helping farmers abroad produce and distribute their own food.

    That's a laudable goal. But the Obama administration along with members of the U.S. Congress are using this singular moment to move their own agenda: propping up U.S. biotechnology companies like Monsanto. They hope to accomplish this by promoting genetically modified seeds and chemical inputs as tools to fight hunger through an exclusive focus on increasing crop yields. One powerful Senate committee has already passed a bill, sponsored by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Lugar (R-IN), that requires GMO technology to be part of the U.S. agricultural research agenda abroad. We need to tell them not to use our tax dollars to market Monsanto's products abroad!

    All the children of your children's children, do you ever think what they're going to find? Make tomorrow, today...

    by willy mugobeer on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:26:24 AM PDT

    •  Oh criminey. (4+ / 0-)

      As if those louts needed the business. I won't even get started on all the issues of GM companies. I'm just glad this film has been made.

      If nothing is very different from you, what is a little different from you is very different from you. Ursula K. Le Guin

      by northsylvania on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:33:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama is way too close to Monsanto (4+ / 0-)

      and their goals. As I've mentioned before, it seems as though he wants to be known as having a science savvy administration but, in the case of Monsanto, it is science based on profit, greed and absolute and total disregard for the health or welfare of the planet and its inhabitants. I've been so distressed to see the administration appointing Monsanto lobbyists, apologists and shills.  

    •  That GMO requirement is FALSE (4+ / 0-)

      I would encourage you to stop spreading it.  Lugar had an editorial in the Des Moines newspaper that denounced that.  Here is part of the text:  

      ...The bill does not mandate the use of GM technology by any farmers, implementing partners, or government agencies. It does not condition the receipt of food aid on a recipient country's adoption of GM. The use of any technology is left to individual farmers based on their particular circumstances.

      The only provision that mentions GM technology simply says that research on biotechnology, including GM, would be eligible for U.S. assistance. Because the bill advocates strengthening the local capacity of research institutions, U.S. agribusiness is unlikely to be a direct beneficiary of localized innovations....

      But if you want to ensure that companies get in, an absence of research funding would do that.  However, I think it is better to fund local researchers to accomplish agricultural studies.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:29:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  re: That GMO requirement is FALSE (0+ / 0-)

        Adam Klaus from CREDO here.  The dispute hinges on the meaning of the word "shall." The legislation states the following:

        Agricultural research carried out under this chapter shall

        (1) take account of the special needs of small farmers in the determination of research priorities,

        (2) include research on the interrelationships among technology, institutions, and economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors affecting small-farm agriculture, and

        (3) make extensive use of field testing to adapt basic research to local conditions. Special emphasis shall be placed on disseminating research results to the farms on which they can be put to use, and especially on institutional and other arrangements needed to assure that small farmers have effective access to both new and existing improved technology

        (4) include research on biotechnological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology.

        Lugar is now maintaining that the "shall" does not necessarily mean money will be spent, but that it can be spent, on GMO research. That appears to be a minority view and most legal interpretations consider "shall" in a law to be an imperative, not an option.

        The CURRENT law (which does NOT include any GMO language) can be found here and the bill's language to amend that chapter can be found here.

        (Hat tip to Tom Laskawy for the background on this.)

  •  Laws cramping farmers markets (10+ / 0-)

    There is a story in our local paper this morning giving a snapshot of some of the obstacles faced when trying to do something about our food supply at a more grassroots level.

    Small-scale vendors at temporary farmers markets have to, under current state health regulations, comply with impractical and cost-prohibitive rules.

    The story talks about vendors selling dairy or meat, or items with those ingredients, who bring their products to market frozen and/or iced in portable coolers.  They get shut down.  Why?  Because the health regulations don't merely require that the food be kept under 41 degrees -- they require that the food be put in mechanical coolers.  

    What's wrong with having a regulation that simply says if you stick a thermometer in it and it is not warmer than 41 degrees, you're good to go?  Why the extra burden of requiring mechanical refrigeration?  What's the point?  

    •  Sad (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mamamarti, welso, miss SPED, Eddie L

      The people in the industry have become bullies...really.

      An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

      by rini6 on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:52:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This can be overcome. There are organizations (9+ / 0-)

      both state and national to help. Try the North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Association and the USDA. It has ALWAYS been like this, and markets have grown right through this. It takes some activism, some sympathetic people in state gov't. They are there.

      The point of mechanical frig is simple: it's "in the rules". In NYS, food inspectors are housed in the Dept of Ag. The Commissioner of Ag eventually sat down with the head of inspection and said, farmers markets are important, lets read the regs for what they are trying to accomplish, not what is in black and white. Rules like "Bathrooms must be within 200 feet of retail display" were reinterpreted to mean farmers could use the McDonald's bathroom across the street.

      By the way, I've seen farmers bring down freezers hooked to generators. It can be done, but most use coolers. Coolers are not the best way to hold frozen meat. There's freeze/thaw issues between 28-32 degrees that can effect the quality of the meat.)

  •  The point is ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... to raise money from fines and to discourage small operators and just because they can. Hey, it is a civil service job. Can't keep if if you aren't busing somebody. The excuse/reason is food safety. That will all change as we grow poorer (if we do). We will see more street vendors and more street/road side markets.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:47:12 AM PDT

  •  I have to see Food Inc. (5+ / 0-)

    The problem is that these movies leave me feeling powerless, sad and defeated. I know, I should buck up an do what I can. Still, I was almost sobbing after Fahrenheit 911. If there is something with animals or people being killed or wounded I don't want to see it. I am such a wuss.

    Interestingly, though,  I love Trauma ER on Discovery Health and relish watching the competent ER staff and surgeons as they put people back together.

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 03:51:30 AM PDT

  •  Isn't it ironic that the free market - a supposed (8+ / 0-)

    place for encouraging competition, evolved into monopolistic market killing all the competition ?  In India, lots of roads are being privatized and tolled (on top of collecting road usage tax when one buys an automobile) and pockets of resistance from the people have appeared and are quelled by government intimidation. All drinking water is now through private entities by deviously making the government role in water supply inefficient (no water on demand in the taps with sever rationing ) and unhealthy (untreated/ill-treated water flowing through the taps). The bottled water, with assured enormous amounts of profit, is one of the biggest legalized swindling perpetrated on the mass

    repub = a politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis
    fox = fascist obnoxious xenophobic
    rnc = rush, newt, cheney

    by amk for obama on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:01:51 AM PDT

  •  I don't much worry about soybeans. (0+ / 0-)

    A minor part of my diet - even including the modest amount of meat I eat.

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:18:42 AM PDT

  •  Buying Club (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamarti, miss SPED, CherryTheTart

    I emailed Polyface about joining a buying club. I'm in Alexandria. I also plan to stop by P&C market sometime. I've been concerned about this subject for some time and I try yo frequent local farmer's markets when I get the chance for fresh meat, cheese and produce. I'm also concentrating on spending my (depleted) dollars these days locally.

    Democrats brought you The Big O. Republicans brought you a nasty little Dick and a dumb Bush. Remember that every time you vote.

    by Turn VABlue on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:31:36 AM PDT

    •  P&C carries a limited amount of their stuff (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miss SPED, CherryTheTart

      is closed on Tuesday. They also have stuff from Blue Ridge Meats, and a good, albeit small, selection of wines and beers.  It is worth the trip.

      Some things at Polyface make sense, others turn out to be very expensive, like the ice cream and sorbet, which I will probably not purchase on a regular basis, since neither of us should be eating it anyhow.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:38:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A city near us sold their water... to Germans. (5+ / 0-)

    corporations are attempting to control water supplies.  This is very true of multinationals and their operations in other nations, particularly those in the category of "developing" economies.  The hostility to anything governmental, a part of the Republican ideology since before Reagan, has also led to privatization of many functions in the US, such as selling toll roads to foreign companies.  I fully expect to see pressure put on localities to sell the municipal water systems that currently supply much of the nation's population with potable water.  

    Lexington, KY, sold their water company to a German company several years ago. There was a movement to have the city buy and operate the water company itself, but it lost out to investors of the German company - they had more money. I wouldn't care if it was a German company, a Canadian company, or a company from England - the point is that the folks in Lexington were crazy enough to sell their own water supply to foreign nationals. What would happen if the new owners decided to double or triple the price? What if relations between the 2 governments stopped being friendly? Do those folks think they'll be able to survive on rainwater and dividends? Foreign money from a huge conglomerate talked, and it talked loudly enough to win out over common sense.

    We have a well on our farm. Yes, it takes electricity to run the pump, but at least our water is our water.

    "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." --- Ed Howdershelt (Author)

    by SciMathGuy on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:36:00 AM PDT

  •  We have a bifurcated food system: a national (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, miss SPED, CherryTheTart

    one with some readily identifiable problems, and a smaller regional/local system. There is some mixing, especially with the explosion of interest in "local" food but for the most part they don't intersect. In spite of all this monopolistic power and might, local ag can do quite well, but it takes time. We've been working on it in NYS for 30 years, and it is now quite robust and still growing.

    Keep the faith, change takes time.

  •  My wife and I visited Polyface and Joel's.. (14+ / 0-)

    farm 13 years ago on our way down to North Carolina to our "new" farm that we had purchased a year prior.  It was a wonderful and very informative visit along with an incredible dinner that was served to a group of about 25 of us.  This was one of Joel's early forays into to opening his farm to the public to demonstrate his operation, and it left us very motivated to emulate what we could of his operation on our farm.  To date, we are not totally 100% sustainable, but with my working a fulltime job and my wife operating the farm, we at least now have raised our own beef, poultry, and pork in addition to growing a very large garden and have sold the surplus to pay for about 90% of our food stock.  We continue to sell honey from our hives, and eggs (along with handmade soap which my wife has been making for over 16 years, and wool/fiber raw fleeces, rovings, and yarn from our livestock of llama sheep, angora goats and rabbits) to several farmer’s markets we attend during the week and on Saturdays along with direct sales to retail stores in the Asheville, NC area. We have raised our own food for over 9 years now, and are members of several Farmer's markets, and sustainable agriculture organizations that promote healthy and responsible food production.  In our spare time (is there such a thing?), we also offer tours of our farm, and offer small livestock and farm consulting for those who are following in the footsteps who wish to do the same.  
    I am glad you had the opportunity to see on film just what is going on with the food situation in this country, and hope that more people will see this movie and take with them the urgent need to inform others as well as look at their food consumption in a different light.  Jill has a great website on this topic, and I urge everyone to visit and bookmark her site as she is on top of this, and other agriculture issues 110%!

    Out of this continuing journey, we can honestly say that food is very political in this country, and should be viewed in that fashion:  It's that important!

    "Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value." ~ Albert Einstein

    by LamontCranston on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 04:47:42 AM PDT

  •  Not to start a food fight.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, pletzs, murrayewv

    ...but ownership consolidation in most industries continued apace under the Clinton Administration, particularly when one thinks of Oil, energy and telecom.

    •  Oh, am not saying it's only a Republican problem (0+ / 0-)

      there were lots of things wrong in the Clinton administration.  Still, when one compares it to its two predecessors and its successor, on the whole it is still far superior, even with its flaws.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:10:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NAFTA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Financial deregulation, and China "free trade" were "flaws" that pretty much wipe out any positives from the Clinton administration. The repercussions of those three things are pretty much what we've got sitting in our laps right now.

  •  My biggest fear, should be yours too: (11+ / 0-)

    Mid sized family farms, between 100 and 1000 acres, are under tremendous pressure to comply with HAACP and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) regulations. We are in danger of losing these farms as the original owners age and family members must decide whether it is worth it to make improvements to comply. While we may dream that small farms, urban farms and CSA's will supply all our minor crop (fruit and vegetable) needs, but in many parts of the US, it is a dream only. We need these farms. They are all that stand in the way of a complete domination of industrial farms at the national level.

    We can encourage our supermarkets to carry regional produce and label produce not just "product of usa" but state or region of origin, and shop accordingly. If there is more we can do, I'll let you all know.

    •  just so you know (5+ / 0-)

      the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is a personal friend.  I make sure he is kept aware of issues raised here that fall within his jurisdiction.  Does not mean that he will agree, or even if he does that he has the power to do much about it.  But he is aware.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:16:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting. I have refrained from writing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, Fabian, CherryTheTart

        much about agriculture since my views are more "centrist" than many who post here. (I've worked with farmers most of my career, whether this has made me well informed, hard headed or just "thick", I still can't decide.) If something seems to be of particular importance I'll make sure it gets a hearing.

    •  Farms Hundreds of Years old vs Popcorn McMansions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, the fan man

      Around my upscale professional cracker-ville, the shit the remaining small farms have to endure at the hands of the NIMBY citizenry is unimaginable.  Some of these farms have been in existence for hundreds of years and now, whenever any farm smell gets blown in the wrong direction over the McMansions, it's off to town hall for more complaints and proposed regulations.  Even birds crapping on the Audis and Acuras are cause for blame on the 'farm'.  I don't claim to have any solution and certainly wouldn't want a large scale hog farm next door, but there should be some type of grandfather clause that goes along with all the open space zoning which forces the suburban migrants to put up with it or move on.

      •  We have it here in NYS. It's called "right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, JohnnySacks

        to farm" law. It more or less prevents most actions against existing farm operations. We shouldn't live next to farms unless we want to put up with their pollution, however innocuous or noxious it is. At times I feel for some of these suburbanites. Across the river from me some idiot, helped by idiots in local gov't, put a development between two huge sweet corn fields. The farmer has always aerial-sprayed these fields, and still does. Now when the wind picks up and shifts suddenly, the development gets a bad whiff. (There are many regs about when aerial spraying can't happen, winds over x miles an hour, etc., but nature is nature.) People can't use their backyards on certain days, claim they get headaches and worse. Not a good scene for either party.

  •  We really need a revolution to change our ways (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, jjellin, CherryTheTart

    of how we feed our country. I am of a kind who believes that 100% organic is the only way to a better health, less health care cost and to lesser prescription dependency. Look at the rate of children who are not normal this days and how many adults are affected with Heart, Cancer, Parkinson diseases? I am of a believer that food is a huge political issue that is closely tied to the strong health insurance & pharmaceuticals who protect the hormonal driven way of mass production. Why change the way things are if it makes you money? The sad part is they know it is killing people and they think of it as if it is a causality of making money.

    ...We have many issues that bind us together than separates us!

    by ThisIsMyTime on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:32:11 AM PDT

  •  Smithfield workers recently won union & contract (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, althea in il

    Last December the Smithfield Tarheel workers finally won a union (UFCW).
    And on July 1 of this year ratified their first-ever contract.  They have overcome years of strong opposition from the company's management.  Let's hope this progress translates into better treatment for the workers and better conditions in the plant.

    Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself - Wallace Stevens

    by catchlightning on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:42:23 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, miss SPED

    I've been thinking about seeing this film.  I've recently read books by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver about the horrors of the food industry and the benefits of eating locally, organically and sparingly.  This has totally convinced me that this is the direction I need to go--I am not a vegetarian, but I am eating very very little red meat, or any animal (chicken/fish), these days.  I am buying "free range" eggs, but they are expensive.  I go to local farmers markets and farm stands.

    I agree that the food situation is an economic problem and it is huge.  It really ties in with so many other problems of modern day life, reaching all the way, as you mention, to the problem of immigration, and reliance on "illegal" workers, to keep food production costs down.

    The more people can be encouraged to resist the food industry, like the drug industry and the oil industry, etc. the better.  But it is going to be a tough fight, especially now that so many people are out of work, relying on what they can pick up at a food pantry--and other peoples' buying decisions--or what they can purchase cheaply.  Cheap food tends to mean subsidized production, which means specific crops/food products (monocultures) which means support for the worst of agribusiness.

    There has to be a better way and a healthy alternative.   How about if our priority becomes healthy Americans rather than profits for a few.

  •  Reduce consumption of meat and meat products! (4+ / 0-)

    Go veggie! A very simple and healthy solution.
    Pardon my pimp for my veggie series
    Macca's Meatless Monday

    Learn how to cook without meat and poultry.

    Thank you for the diary...insightful writing as usual.


    •  Totally agree. Everyone could eat fewer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, beach babe in fl

      animal products and benefit with more grocery money and better health.

      I believe in eating Real Food.
      I eat meat, but I eat pasture-raised meat and eggs. No one needs an 8oz steak at one sitting. Eat 4-6 oz of meat that actually benefits health.

  •  thanks, teacherken (5+ / 0-)

    I saw the film a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I was horrified, and furious, and I also felt powerless. Despite the great suggestions at the end of the film.

    Having just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma and about 2/3 through in Defense of Food, I've decided that I need to be the change I seek. I've always been a careful shopper, but in the last two weeks I've taken a really good look at each thing I eat during the day. I'm pleased that about half of it is real 'food' (the rest being things like organic yogurt, butter, local bakery bread, etc.). We are lucky to have a variety of farmer's markets here, and I'm going once a week to get seasonal produce. Yesterday at the coop (The Wedge in Minneapolis) I consciously tried to buy local. It was easy when I picked up the usual, non-local butter I buy and noticed that one of its ingredients is 'natural flavor'. So I put that block back and took the local organic brand instead. So, maybe it doesn't taste the same way the other brand does, but I can feel better about eating it.  So, change starts with me.

    I've also been encouraging my brother and sister to try farmer's markets where they live. My sister said she doesn't want to get up that early; my brother said it is too expensive. So how do I counter responses like that? I saw a friend last week and encouraged her to try the local markets as well. Again, she said the food was too expensive. Actually, I know this is not true, in fact, and in the true cost of the food. But when I try to explain these things, their eyes glaze over.

    So for me the issue is how I can convince others that local, real food is the way to go, despite its cost. Any suggestions?

    •  invite them over to eat real food (5+ / 0-)

      and let them taste the difference.

      show them the alternatives

      it spreads by worth of mouth, friend to friend.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:04:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My Husband (4+ / 0-)

      discovered he is sensitive to MSG and all its components (i.e. natural flavor, malted anything etc...). Eye opening experience for me. Unless it says organic, you can rest assured it has varying degrees of MSG or other harmful additives. Even with organic labels you will see natural flavors on some of it. It has been a slow process to try to buy decent food, but we are headed there.

      It is a vote with your dollars when you purchase something. I am starting to go to local farmers markets and have added grocery stores with more natural and organic labels. It is easier than it would have been just three years ago when I noticed the ramp up of more organic in our grocery stores.

      I think it is worth it even though it is more work. Our generation is on the front lines. The more "good" we buy, the more is produced. We need to make sure the organic label stays meaningful as corporations are now trying to weaken it by putting the synthetic varieties of ingredients in and still calling it organic.

      Truth is harmonious, lies are discordant.

      by Babsnc on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:43:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was a Meat Shoveler for Four Years at a Meat (9+ / 0-)

    Packing plant and the conditions were atrocious. I have many stories but my favorite was while I was making sausage. In order to make sausage in this plant, it was important to be able to feel what you were doing, so you had to use bare hands without any gloves. Normally, this is not too big of a deal, but in my case it most definitely was. In the other part of my duties, as a meat shoveler (basically unpacking boxes from the slaughter house and shoveling it into vats of cure, then shoveling it out of the cure onto huge baking grates), by hands had an allergic reaction to the cure. So, for weeks my hands began to peel. I could not believe how many layers of skin that my hands shed over that time period. So, when I switched to making sausage, I asked my supervisor what to do because there would be no way to prevent large amounts of my skin from getting in the sausage. He said that it was no problem at all. I couldn't believe this and protested thinking that it was pretty disgusting. The supervisor laughed and told me to hang on a minute. He went and got the NY state inspector and brought him over. They were both laughing as the supervisor told me to explain my problem to the inspector. I told him that large sheets of my skin were getting in the sausage. He laughed again and told me that it was no problem, just to turn down the filler a bit.

    After this, I began to investigate the filler that now included my skin and found that it was much more disgusting than my skin could ever be. The ingredients list said that it contained: rodent parts, animal feces, parts of many other animals that I would not consider edible, plastic, and many other things that I can not remember, many of which were worse. I do not remember the exact amount of filler we used in each sausage or hot dog - but it was somewhere between 7 and 13 percent of them were this filler.

    Needless to say I have been a vegetarian for 12 years now. Also, it is important to note this occurred in NY, which has some of the highest standards in the country.

    "Let's Go Change the World!" ~ Barack Obama

    by Jdories on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:05:24 AM PDT

  •  We don't tend to regulate ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... oligopolies with monopoly power, unless they get caught colluding.

    But 90%+ is almost certainly a monopoly ... Monsanto is a case of regulatory capture.

    Progressive Economics Shortcut: just read the billy blog

    by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:26:03 AM PDT

  •  I am with Ken regarding the Anti-Trust (3+ / 0-)

    Some Progressive MBA student should study the antithetical position of capitalism, where in fact it is structure to limit competion through consolidation and market manipulation.

     Time and time again, innovation goes from small to large with total market domination and thus market downfall.

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 06:30:10 AM PDT

    •  yeah, i often wonder about that, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, miss SPED

      when the monopolies have the lowest prices, where do you start with the law?  in the olden days, they had the high prices...
      maybe the anti-trust lawsuits should be from the seed cleaning/gmo angle.  why should there be a monopoly on seed?  shouldn't it be the other way around for that seed cleaner in the movie?  shouldn't HE have sued monsanto for fouling HIS seeds?
      frustrating and sad, that scene was...

      I died for Arlen Specter's sins.

      by stagemom on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:01:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I dream of being able to eat Polyface food (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, miss SPED

    Unfortunately I live 3000 miles too far away. Sigh.

  •  Read "The Omnivores Dilemma" (6+ / 0-)

    It deals with many of the same issues that this movie does. It scared the shit out of me.

    The food delivery system in this country has dozens if not hundreds of skeletons rattling around in their closet.

    Many of them would make you stop what you're eating in mid bite if you knew, it's truly terryfying stuff.

    Once you read it, it will make sense why 25% of people in this country are obese. Most people just don't have the tools to fight off all the garbage that we've been programmed to eat, and the reasons are shocking and often times disgusting.

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    by jkay on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:04:00 AM PDT

  •  Petrol - related but separate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miss SPED

    Once we develop a clean alternative to fossil fuel, this won't be an issue anymore.   Farmers need tractors to do their work.   The tractors aren't the problem, the fuel source is.  

    Sunshine on my shoulders...

    by pkbarbiedoll on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 07:06:09 AM PDT

  •  Food, Inc. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    made me think of another outstanding documentary, "The Corporation."
    If you haven't seen it, you can check out the trailer here:

  •  The best way to fix (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    a broken, corrupt system, and at the same time help Mother Earth is to stop eating meat.

  •  Desperately seeking "Food, Inc." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In my area, one has to drive 90 minutes to a major city, where just three theaters are showing the film.

  •  Capitalism is not what we have in the U.S. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm, bvig

    Which is why it's so ironic listening to the Repubs tout it.

    True capitalism, like most "isms", fails to take into account human nature, especially the tendency of people to do everything they can to rig things in their favor. The theory of capitalism assumes that supply and demand forces will result in the most efficient allocation of resources. Unfortunately, some capitalists have all too often resorted to force, intimidation, bribery, lobbying and even the use of government laws to circumvent the pressures of supply and demand. Anti-trust laws are actually designed to help keep the playing field level, which means they help true capitalism to exist.

    But you'll never hear that from the Repubs. Their concept of capitalism consists of the idea that "money talks."  The more money you have, the more power you should have, especially in the halls of government. Which is not true capitalism at all.  

  •  Eat less, buy better food. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm

    It really is that simple for most people.

    I can't think of anyone I know who not benefit from eating less of better food.

    Stop eating sugar and white flour and you don't have cravings that people think are hunger pains.

    An organic, pasture-raised egg, at $3 a dozen is 40cents of amazing food. 10 grams of protein and full of omega 3s. Scrimping on eggs is counterproductive.

    Pasture raised eggs with natural DHA and Omega3 is the best thing you could do for your kid's brains and neurological health. 40 cents.

  •  We saw it a few weeks ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm

    We both came away depressed. I know there's this "You can make a difference" stuff at the end, but honestly it seems so overwhelming. And I don't want to get sued by Big Food for saying something like, "I like to grow my own food so I know where it comes from and what's in it." I really hardly know where to begin.

    We vote with our dollars these days. I make every effort to buy local, organic food. We shop at farmer's markets when we can. We grow a lot of our own vegetables and fruit. We do what we can, I feel like it's not enough. I'd like to be more activist, but Big Food scares me.

  •  Try finding the movie ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm

    We had to drive 30 miles to see the movie in Houston, where it is showing in one theater.  There is no advertising for it - mostly word of mouth.  But it is a very powerful movie.  

    I disagree that the way around this is to not eat meat.  I am fortunate to have a number of organic and grass-fed suppliers for beef, pork, chicken and goat here in southeast Texas.  It costs more per pound, but that also forces us to lower the amount of meat in our meals - a good thing.  My brother raises longhorns, and while the best part of the longhorn is hamburger, it is good to see cattle outside of a feedlot (CAFO).  

    Since it is obvious that it will take a sea change in government for regulations to change, the best we can do as consumers is make our own small changes, and do what is best for our family.

    "Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts." William S. Burroughs

    by SaltWaterCroc on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 08:47:03 AM PDT

  •  For a follow-up to the movie (0+ / 0-)

    and for anyone interested in obtaining a detailed understanding of how the system works, I recommend highly Marion Nestle's book, Food Politics (2002).

  •  Biotech necessity (0+ / 0-)

    I am not a scientist.  Yet even with my limited knowledge and the childhood experience of growing fruits and vegetables, I know the dangers of monoculture - if there is a disease or a pest, the entire crop is often lost.  Our practices in food production seem to make us much more vulnerable to blights and infections, and while these might now occur naturally, it is not hard to imagine that an enemy could deliberately attack our agriculture in a similar fashion.

    The American lifestyle CANNOT afford sustainable agriculture and progressive labor policies.

    Without externalizing the costs to the environment and low income wage earners, prices would be much higher and the consumerism upon which our service economy is based would deplate rapidly.

    That is why the technology of science is necessary, to forestall the inevidable. The immediate detriments of monoculture, since they can't be changed without a wholesale revision of US agricultural practices, are being offset by genetically modified crops and livestock. Myostatin-negative cows, Bst producing drought-resistant plants.

    Sooner or later we will run out of fossil fuels that facillate the fertilization and pesticide treatment necessary for industrial agriculture, it would be prudent to have a fall back set of variants to weather the coming storm.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 11:14:35 AM PDT

  •  It's a strong movie (0+ / 0-)

    Food Inc is a strong movie that makes you think of where your food comes from & the people who bring it to your tables. It made me think. I strongly recommend it.

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