Friday, August 14, 2009

Outgrowing our Food

Jo Hunter Adams

Outgrowing our food recently appeared in the Mail and Guardian. Some thoughts:

- South Africa has rapidly rising rates of chronic disease linked to obesity (Type II Diabetes, hypertension). This is tied to the affordability of maize in South Africa, in favour of more diverse sources of nutrition.

This is a moment in South Africa where quality of food supply might be overlooked in favor of increasing mass-production. But mass production is not efficient, by scaling food production, one is left with massive problems of soil degradation and waste.

The article argues that farmers farm what is most profitable. Massive amounts of energy are currently used to ship some of our best food overseas, particularly to Europe. The question is, how can South Africans keep its nutritious and excellent quality produce in-country? Increasing the supply of maize and red meat is simply not in the best interests of South Africans. Large monocultures-- or swathes of land farming only one crop--are not in the best interest of South African farms or South Africans' health. There needs to be another solution to maize and soybean scarcity.

I believe at least part of the solution involves reforging the connection between individuals and their food supply, particularly in cities. Where does our meat come from? Vegetables? What makes it good? The quality of the food supply of the poorest members of society is an issue of justice. It is hugely sobering to consider that the food we eat is actually transforming into the substance of our physical bodies.

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