Sunday, November 05, 2006

Food and risks

Humans go to great lengths to protect their food supplies. Killing wolves to prevent the wolves from killing sheep seems crude and unnecessary in our current setting. In a primitive, subsistence culture where the sheep represent your means of survival, getting rid of the wolves is a logical conclusion.

Insects have a historical pattern of eating food away from people. Plant diseases are no less devastating than insect infestations. One of the most well documented examples of a plant disease changing human fortunes is the Irish potato famine beginning in 1845. Africa is a continuos story of drought, insects, plant disease, and social upheaval much of it orbiting around food production and distribution failures.

Crop failures in Central America and Mexico increase the movement of people from rural areas into cities and contributes to the pressure on our own borders for people to move here for a better life. In most simple terms, a sustainable and dependable supply of food is the foundation of all cultural enrichment.

In spite of news stories of bacterial contamination in the food chain for time to time, the food production and distribution system we enjoy in the United States and share with the world is a daily miracle. Never have so many lived so well and so confidently as what we're living with today. Threats from insects, diseases, bacteria, fungus, and to some extent the weather, are held at bay by technology.

Our abundance does comes at a cost. The application technology in food production is increasingly under fire for contributing to environmental degradation and creating public health hazards. As we address those issues, it's good to keep in mind there are reasons for the use of the materials and the farming practices we have today.

Nurturing a close-at-hand supply of food is a worthwhile pursuit. Commodity production is global. Wheat, rice, corn and soybeans grown here feed people all over the world. That takes energy and resources. By supporting locally grown food with our money and time, we help in a small way to reduce the costs and risks of associated with commercial agriculture.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is one means for you to support, nurture and develop local sources of fresh food production. The Stoughton area has several. In a nut shell, CSA involves you in the process. To learn more and to find local CSAs, you can refer to The Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition

And may none of us ever have to worry what the wolves are doing tonight.