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Food, agriculture, and a new economy? - Jan 18

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Emissions from UK food industry far higher than believed
(report)
World Wildlife Fund-Food Climate Research Network combined report
The food we eat accounts for 30% of the UK’s carbon footprint, according to a new report published today by WWF-UK and the Food Climate Research Network. Previous estimates put the figure closer to 20%, but this study is the first to incorporate land use change overseas, increasing the estimate of emissions attributed to food consumption in this country from 152MtCO2 to 253MtCO2.

Land use change, mainly deforestation, is a major source of climate changing emissions. Each year world-wide, an area of forest equivalent to half of England is lost. The expansion of the food system is the biggest driver behind this as land is cleared to grow crops and rear animals.

Given the extent of food consumption on the UK’s overall emissions, WWF-UK and the FCRN are calling for a radical change to the country’s food system to help stop deforestation and reduce the scale of emissions from the food chain.

The new report – How Low Can We Go: an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and the scope for reduction by 2050 – assessed various scenarios that explored what these changes might look like. Both technological and behavioural initiatives were tested, including decarbonisation of the energy used in the food chain, improved efficiencies and changes in consumption of meat and dairy products...
(18 Jan 2010)
The full report can be accessed here. -KS

thanks to kalpa again for the articles below


Poachers Arrive at Egg Farms

Lauren Etter, Wall Street Journal
A year after Californians approved stricter rules on the treatment of farm animals, Idaho and other states are trying to lure away the Golden State's poultry and egg farmers with promises of friendlier regulations and lower costs.

In Idaho, as lawmakers convened Monday, Republican state Sen. Tim Corder said he would introduce legislation designed to attract California chicken farmers who might consider relocating. In Nevada, Pershing County is aggressively recruiting poultry farmers in California, the nation's fifth-largest producer of eggs. Georgia's poultry industry also has reached out to some California farmers in a bid to woo them eastward, California egg-industry officials say.

Chicken farmer David Demler tours Demler Enterprise's massive ranch in Wasco, Calif. Last year, California voters passed a ballot initiative designed to prevent confinement of farm animals in cramped conditions, like small 'battery cages' for egg-laying chickens and 'gestation crates' for pregnant pigs.
The movement comes after California voters in November 2008 passed a ballot initiative called Proposition 2 designed to prevent "cruel confinement" of farm animals in cramped conditions, like small "battery cages" for egg-laying chickens, or "gestation crates" for pregnant pigs.

Such measures have grown more popular nationwide as the Humane Society of the United States and other groups have pushed to raise awareness of how animals are treated in the food-production system. Since 2002, similar provisions have passed in Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado...
(13 Jan 2010)


Striking a bargain: With supply limited, state targets water demand

Chris Woodka, The Pueblo Chieftain
Here’s the choice: Colorado can dry up 400,000 acres of farmland, build a couple more pipelines through the Rockies or put 5 million new residents of the state

- plus most already living here - on permanent watering restrictions or shower schedules.

Can’t make up your mind?

You’re not alone.

It’s the big question Colorado’s Interbasin Compact Committee has been struggling with for the past year, leading to development of a model that projects the impacts from mixing the strategies. The foregone conclusion is that Colorado’s population will double by the year 2050. Every time someone stands up in a water meeting and suggests the state bar the borders for new growth, the rest of the group shouts down the idea, saying you can’t stop people from moving in, raising families and adding to the general prosperity that benefits those already living here...
(23 Dec 2009)


Will Anyone Stand Up For American Industry?

Aaron M. Renn, The Urbanophile
...The Agricultural Analogy
Agriculture seems to be further ahead than manufacturing. There is already significant mindshare around organic and regional foods. Books like Home Grown Indiana document the burgeoning scene. Farmers markets are going crazy in America, as are specialty groceries like Goose the Market. Microbreweries, now nearly ubiquitous in America, are in the same line. There are more and more local processed food producers, in house charcuterie operations, etc. There is significant awareness of the distance food has traveled from farm to market. There is a developing ecosystem that is actually starting to relink cities to their rural hinterlands. It’s not a huge employment or economic base yet, but it is getting there.

I would like to see something analogous happen on the product side.

Why High End Products?
The products I am discussing in this post tend to higher end specialty or luxury products. Of what relevance is this to the broader economy, one might ask.

For things like organic and locally sourced foods or other artisanal and craft products, they are often targeted and marketed as luxury products today. However, there’s room to believe they could be more mass market tomorrow. Many product categories started out as luxury products for the rich such as automobiles and flat screen TV’s. But eventually scale economics won out.

Products that are truly hand crafted will likely always be somewhat pricey due to the increasing scarcity value of human labor. But it is easy to see how the values embodied in them could be applied to more mass market products. Especially for food, many people associated with that movement are interested in promoting broader changes in the American diet and lifestyle. That can only be done by getting to the right price points and volume.

Of course, that might again lead to offshoring, but there is a lifecycle to these things. Nevertheless, I feel we ought to take a balanced view of urban economies, one that embraces, protects, and champions a 21st century manufacturing industry...
(10 Jan 2010)


The Key to Local Food Systems' Survival: Strong Community Support

Sara Novak, Planet Green
I read the most interesting article on Grist the other day and it brought to light some local food issues that are not getting nearly enough attention. While farmers' markets are growing, small farms are becoming trendy, and sustainable agriculture has made its way back into the limelight, producers are just one piece of the local food puzzle. According to an article on Grist, without a vibrant rural community, the emerging local food system cannot survive.

If a farmer has no place close to home to have grains milled, livestock butchered, or items sold, a prosperous local community is difficult. Each tiny rural community used to have their own butcher, mill, grocer, and farm supply shop, but in recent decades as industrial and factory farming have taken over, these small entities were pushed out of business. Larger corporate grocers are less likely to purchase local foods because these stores have minimums which most small farmers cannot reach. The same goes for butchers, millers, and processors. We have to think of the big picture to make local food a real force.

The Keys to a Thriving Local Food System

1. Support Local Businesses...

2. Encourage Entrepreneurship in Your Community...

3. Engage in Community Supported Initiatives...

4. Support Local Food Cooperatives...

5. Become a Ruralpolitan...
(12 Jan 2009)

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