Feast and Famine: How the World Moved to a Two-tiered Food System - Professor Harriet Friedmann, University of Toronto
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Feast and Famine: How the World Moved to a Two-tiered Food System - Professor Harriet Friedmann, University of Toronto

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  • In Canada, as in much of the developed world, hunger came as a surprise in the 1980s, and chronic hunger even more so. yet the present austerity seems to take us ever further from resolving hunger, not only in Canada, via income, but also via the kinds of direct nutritional supplements introduced in the 1990s --- which evoked the targetted nutrition programs of Boyd-Orr and the British government beginning in the 1930s.
  • A paradox of plenty and hunger arose at that time in a new form. Supermarkets seized power in a food system increasingly differentiated b/w rich and poor. In the 1950s and 60s, everyone shopped at the same small shops or (in retrospect) small supermarkets--- some bought hamburger, others steaks. In the 1980s in <br /> orth America, two fast growing stores emerged to carry the new division: WalMart and Whole Foods (in uk, Tesco and Waitrose?) Supermarkets continued to offer industrial foods of formerly dominant brand manufactures,such as kraft and Nestle, but also began sourcing globally for coutner seasonal produce and exotics. These imports via transnationally organized supply chains are, whatever else, healthy foods. They arre increasingly out of reach of poor consumers (or so they often think
  • First, it is crucial to ask what is desirable. Novelty: human evolution as foragers and hunters and fishers  taste for sweetness, fats, and salt; human cultures channel these in mostly sustainable ways --- for health, for agro-ecosystems, and for the deep connection between the two. Nutrition transition: not only rich get gout and other diseases of surfeit --- now everyone can, but mostly poor do Deficiencies of micronutrients --- which come from fresh plants and animals in complex, encultured ways --- is a feature of a diet unbalanced towards sugars and fats. [a young person looked in my fridge and complained that there was no food there --- only ingredients!]
  • These people look healthy enough, but this diet is what causes obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Read caption from WHO It is happening! Are following stages of development pioneered by developed market economies, as we persist in calling them, a good thing?
  • The drop in maize consumption COULD be a sign of health--- if it meant movement away from a poverty diet towards a more diverse one.
  • indeed, palm oil, a traditional food, has some health problems. A decline after 2000 COULD be a good thing, too.
  • However, let’s look at an unusual new dietary item: soy oil (yellow). This is NOT a traditional crop or dietary item. Soy oil --- and other aggregate oils (blue line) are contained in industrial foods, which are imported.
  • A tasty dish of fried bhajia and sausage. Over-consumption of cheap cooking fats, driven by their tasty flavour, poses a major public health crisis in Kenya. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA Source: Daily Nation, Kenya 26 May 2010
  • A look at production helps to explain what is happening. Production of fresh vegetables, such as avocado and green beans, for export via supermarket supply chains, now account for more and more agricultural production. As exports displace local and national food systems, agriculture and diet become separated socially and culturally--- with health costs.
  • These workers cannot live by green beans alone, even if they can eat some of these green beans.
  • This... [go to next]
  • And they certainly can’t eat flowers. They must eat what they can access from communities, or increasingly what they can buy.
  • And this is what most consumers ---that is, people who participate in food markets as opposed to local markets or direct subsistence --- can afford. Green beans and fish, which are dense in micronutrients, are sent out to Waitrose customers in the UK. As participants in global markets, consumers are more likely to afford industrial foods dense in sugars and fats.
  • In urban agriculture people are finding ways to diversify and balance diets --- outside of global markets
  • There is still much that remains of diverse farming systems embedded in ecosystems and cultures, including cuisines.
  • High value crops for export
  • polycultural communities, supported by science and technology to improve ways of farming with natural cycles to produce a variety of foods for cuisines evolving with farming. These farming systems are diverse, knowledge-intensive (that is, labour intensive --- why is that a problem? --- AND also skill-intensive, that is, creative). As the |IAASTD report concludes, in order to maximize rural livelihoods, food security, and resilient ecosystems, formal science must redirect the research and education agenda towards partnership with practical knowledge. This is not a romance of tradition (we can talk about that complex word), but recovery of humility in the face of the awe-inspiring complexities of nature and culture as they have evolved. I have just returned from Louisiana, where I grew up. Fishers and trappers there are bereft, as was I, at the devastation, but even more, they know some ways to soak up oil, which cannot be applied by them or the engineers when they chose to use chemicals to disperse and sink it. It is not about choosing one or the other, but finding ways to collaborate based on mutual respect.
  • Farmers have always provided a variety of foods to cities. Now farmers are being displaced in a global enclosure, and their ability to grow the foods of a culture, for themselves and urban dwellers, is in danger. Why, when we know that the past half century has led to an overemphasis on calories and proteins at the expense of micronutrients in industrial diets, do we not consider what we have to learn from intact food cultures?
  • And why, when we grasp how the negative health effects of the kind of overconsumption that has followed from the industrial cropping and livestock systems of the North, all compounded by fossil fuel dependency and greenhouse gases, would we not think we have much to learn from ecologically and culturally embedded farming systems? This is happening --- Bryan Gilvesy as the new type of farmer --- commercial, innovative, on a perpetual self-education project --- from entomology to farm policy to carbon pricing. Ecuador is trying something different. Pacha Mama. My experience on a rice cooperative. Explaining “productivity” in layered versus monocultural farms (Joel Salatin).

Feast and Famine: How the World Moved to a Two-tiered Food System - Professor Harriet Friedmann, University of Toronto Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Feast and Famine:
    • How the world moved to a two-tiered food system
    • Harriet Friedmann, University of Toronto
  • 2. Northern Hunger
    • First food banks: 1980s
    • First anti-hunger organizations: 1990s
    • Cuts to social assistance; creation and removal of food supplement to social assistance: 2000s
  • 3. Northern Feasts
    • The supermarket revolution
    • Eating globally
    • New food imports: the healthy ones
  • 4.  
  • 5.  
  • 6. The South As Global Farm
    • Debt crisis and export imperative: 1980s
        • Led to……
    • “ Non-traditional” exports….
  • 7.  
  • 8.  
  • 9. And even…
  • 10. So what is happening to diets in the global south?
  • 11. Is the Northern diet one to which people everywhere should aspire?
    • The novelty of the industrial diet
    • Nutrition Transition: democratization of fat
    • Deficiencies because of abundance
    • What is lost?
  • 12. Great Britain - $253 per week for food (Hungry Planet)
  • 13. The Nutrition Transition
  • 14. Kenya: An Example Thanks to Kristie O’Neill
    • Exporting healthy food
    • Importing processed foods high in fats and sugars and salt
  • 15. Maize Available for Consumption from 1993-2005 in kcal/per capita/day
  • 16. Palm Oil Available for Consumption from 1993-2005 in kcal/per capita/day
  • 17. Soyabean Oil and Other Oil Available for Consumption from 1961-2005 in kcal/per capita/day
  • 18.
    • A tasty dish of fried bhajia and sausage. Over-consumption of cheap cooking fats, driven by their tasty flavour, poses a major public health crisis in Kenya. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA Source: Daily Nation, Kenya 26 May 2010
  • 19. Avocado and Green Bean Production in tonnes from 1961-2005
  • 20.  
  • 21.  
  • 22.  
  • 23.
    • A tasty dish of fried bhajia and sausage. Over-consumption of cheap cooking fats, driven by their tasty flavour, poses a major public health crisis in Kenya. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA Source: Daily Nation, Kenya 26 May 2010
  • 24. But more is going on… In cities…
  • 25. Stephen Ajengo explains how a sack is prepared. COOPI provided the top soil, sand, manure and seedlings. The project targets 1,000 households in Mathare. Source: Irin Africa 25 May 2010
  • 26. And in the countryside
  • 27.  
  • 28. Two futures
    • World Development Report 2008
    • International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development
  • 29.  
  • 30. Or…
  • 31.  
  • 32. Egypt - $68.53 a week for food (Peter Menzel, Hungry Planet)
  • 33. Ecuador- $31.55 a week for food
  • 34. Questions for the South
    • Is good diet mainly about money?
    • Is living on $2 per day twice as good as living on $1 per day?
    • Does it not depend on the farming system and its relation (or lack of relation) to what people eat?