Food prices are at an all-time high, and the next crisis will be “manufactured” – Joel Slatin
In 1900, the share of the American workforce involved in agriculture was nearly 50 percent. Today, it is less than 2%. This is down to manufacturing, economies of scale, and trade, said Joel Slatin, author and co-owner of Poly Face Farms. However, Salatin warns that increased efficiency has had its costs, and made our food supply more fragile.
“Part of the efficiency equation was centralization,” he explained. “[But] With COVID, and now partly with the war in Ukraine, what has happened is that large-scale central efficiency has shown cracks in the system.”
He noted that food processing plants have thousands of employees, making them more vulnerable to pandemic shocks than smaller factories with fewer workers.
Slatin added that “on our farm… where we have a small processing plant with 20 to 25 employees… I don’t get up in the morning wondering.” [whether we] You violated some new government rules or COVID measures, or something like that. ”
Slatin spoke with David Lane, broadcaster and producer at Kitco News.
High cost for low price
Although Slatin emphasized that efficiency had lowered food prices, he said it came with “external costs that were not recorded in the cash register.”
“It took two decades for fragility to emerge,” he explained. “We’re starting to notice it with Campylobacter Listeria, Escherichia coli, and food allergies…Resistant germs are a new phenomenon in the past 30 years resulting from the unprecedented standardization of the use of antibiotics and hormones in the plant’s cultivation system.”
He noted that in the early 1970s, household spending on food accounted for 17% of income, while spending on health care was 9%. Just before 2020, the numbers flipped: Families spent 9 percent of their income on food, and 17 percent on health care.
“It is likely that there is a relationship between cheap food and health costs, versus high-quality food and not getting sick,” Slatin added.
He also said that soil quality had been degraded by factory farming, and that “you must eat seven pounds of broccoli today to get the same nutrition as one pound of broccoli in 1930.”
Finally, he noted, “Obesity is very high, which indicates the cheapness of food.”
“Sugar is cheap, protein is expensive,” Slatin said. “The obesity epidemic follows the cheap food policy, because candy bars are cheaper than pork chops.”
black swan events
Slatin said “black swan” events, such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, have damaged agricultural supply chains, demonstrating the “fragility” of the food system.
“One in five cups of food is produced outside the United States,” he explained. “This is the highest level in history… over there [now] A renewed interest in localization rather than globalization… [In other words]Wearing smaller clothing is less prone to these kind of changes which can be energy related, health related, organizational or relationship related. ”
“The world system is very much interconnected,” he added, and that since Ukraine provides “30 percent of the world’s wheat” and Russia provides “20 to 25 percent of the world’s chemical fertilizers,” this affects food prices for everyone.
What’s the solution?
Salatin’s solution to diet problems was to increase the role of small-scale producers using traditional farming methods. To do so, he said he would “eliminate the USDA” and allow a free market for agriculture.
“If people were afraid of unsafe food, there would be special clothes, like AAA’s in cars,” he said.
“It is time to leave the industrial bureaucracy, primitive, barbaric by government intervention in the field of food,” Slatin said. “Use it Uber style, so that you and I can exercise our choice of food in voluntary and consensual relationships with our producers, and to have voluntary and democratic access to food.”
For Salatin’s thoughts on food shortages and lab-grown meat, watch the video above.
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