Saturday, February 15, 2014

New word of the day "Locavorism"

Here is a new word for you [or at least for me today], "Locavorism". These are folks that have as an agenda the transformation of the U.S. food production system. Their transformation is from the large, one crop farms that are "corporation" owned to a system characterized by small farms growing multiple crops and marketing directly to consumers at the local level. From my reading of history what the Locavores want is a return to the way things were. Back in 1790 in the U.S. about 90 percent of the population worked and lived on 'the farm' and most farms were just a few acres. By 1900 the average farm was 147 acres and the farm population was 38 percent of the labor force and in 2000 the average farm was 461 acres with a farm population of 2.6%.

What we hear from the media and the Locavorism supporters is that by eating food grown or produced locally [50 to 150 miles] that they are made heather by eating this food, they get the freshest food possible, the farmers get a fair price, they support the local economy, and energy used to produce, package, ship, and store the food is reduced. All this sounds good to me and I must say that I do, in the spring, summer, and fall, shop at the local Farmers market.

I do have some concerns about the "Locavorism" movement. If we were to return to the agricultural "landscape" of 1930 we would find that the average farm produced 13 bushels of wheat or 20 bushels of corn per acre. Today the average farm produces 44 bushels of wheat or 164 bushels of corn per acre. In doing more reading about the 'Locavorism' movement I find that they are very concerned about Climate Change and the environment. They talk about the amount of 'energy' needed by the modern commercial farms. Did you know that today there are 4.3 million fossil fuel-powered tractors working on the farms and they have replaced 21.6 million farm work animals from 1900 [and I don't have to tell you what fossil fuel does to the climate]. About 14 percent of the national energy budget is used in agriculture by last count. Back in 1900 about 5 different crops were produced on each farm [average] and today it is about 1.5 crops per farm. This leads to the need for 'soil enhancements' and 'damage-control agents' [pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers for us less literate folks]. This is a big concern to the environmentalist and locavorism movement.

My conclusion from what I have read, if carried out to the logical conclusion, is that the locavorism movement is an anti-urban movement. If we were to return to the days of yesteryear and 'small farm' America, food production would drop, food prices would rise, people would be reduced to having only those food items grown locally, and seasonally [I don't have a pineapple farm within 150 miles of me and I love pineapple]. My best guess would be that the population would have to be reduced by some method [maybe some type of "government" intervention]. Small multiple crop farms do not produce as much nor as efficiently as large single crop farms.


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