1 / 37

The Transcontinental Lettuce

The Transcontinental Lettuce. By Brian Halweil. The Mississippi. Major path for shipping about 35000 metric tons of soybeans a day. US Army Corps of Engineer project: add to the existing lock infrastructure to allow more flow of goods.

Télécharger la présentation

The Transcontinental Lettuce

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. Content is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only. Download presentation by click this link. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server. During download, if you can't get a presentation, the file might be deleted by the publisher.


Presentation Transcript

  1. The Transcontinental Lettuce By Brian Halweil

  2. The Mississippi • Major path for shipping about 35000 metric tons of soybeans a day. • US Army Corps of Engineer project: add to the existing lock infrastructure to allow more flow of goods. • Expansion adds to 85 million meters of sand and mud already lost from the bank and bottom every year.

  3. Economic Incentive • Lower the cost of shipping soybeans by 4 cents per bushel. • Analysts think this isn’t possible even with the construction.

  4. S. American Plan • The governments of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Paraguay created a plan to dredge 13 million meters of sand, rock, and mud from the Paraguay-Parana River. • Came at nearly the same time as the Mississippi plan.

  5. S. American Plan • Calls for the building of a major port and dozens of locks in the world’s largest wetland. • Soybean production and export in the region is second only to the United States.

  6. Lobbying • Lobbyists for the Mississippi, as well as ones for the Paraguay-Parana, construction argue that the expansion is necessary to “improve competitiveness, grab world market share, and rescue farmers from their worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

  7. Lobbyist Arguments • The Midwest River Coalition 2000 • Essential to feeding the world as the shipping of soybeans will be much faster. • Locks will save the environment because hungry peasants and indigenous peoples will not have to clear rainforests for farmland.

  8. Um…No • The author argues that anyone who examines both sides of the debate will find that US farmers and Brazilian farmers will not just be more competitive with each other. • A more likely outcome, he states, is that there will be a race to maximize production. • Maximizing production will force farmers in both regions to cut deeper into environmentally integral lands, like river banks and rainforests, to garner the most profit. • There will be more soybeans being shipped at faster rates, but each farmer will earn less per ton. • The increase in amount of produce shipped will not matter when small-scale farmers are eventually bought out by corporate farms.

  9. Why don’t they see why this cannot work? • Lobbyists calling for this plan are working for the top soybean processing companies using the rivers—Archer, Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Bunge. • It is in these companies best interests that the price of soybeans fall because they buy the crops from farmers.

  10. Just Another Day in the Global Economy • A handful of companies control the fates of many farmers. • Construction on the Mississippi will be funded at a huge public expense. • Expense not only in a dollar sense, but also in environmental and social ones. • Corporations use emotional phrases like “hungry masses” or “farmer’s plights” to gain cooperation.

  11. Ecological Damage on the Mississippi • Increased barge traffic • Kicked up sediment will block sunlight, reducing the depths at which plant life can live. • Reduces the number of species that depend on the same plants for sustenance (i.e. birds, mollusks, fish). • US Army Corps of Engineers plan threatens 300 species of birds and 127 species of fish.

  12. Ecological Damage on the Parguay-Parana • The proposed plan will destroy bird-nesting habitat and fish spawning areas. • Many indigenous societies depend on these animals for sustenance. • Just as on the Mississippi, reduce the depth at which plant life can survive.

  13. Justification • Senators say that the plan is required for efficiency. • This efficiency relies on a short-sightedness that doesn’t factor in the environmental ruin.

  14. History • Even just a few decades ago, most people obtained their food from local sources. • In ancient times though, there was still shipping and international trade for exotic flavors and supplemental foods. • Until modern times, only wealthy individuals were able to partake in these items.

  15. Today • Local foods are playing an ever-shrinking role in our consumption while foreign-made foods are increasingly made available to everyone. • In 2002, $442 billion of food were shipped around the globe. • 898 million tons of food shipped each year. • 4x increase from 1961 total of 200 million.

  16. Why Do We Eat Less Local Produce? • Part of the reason can be attributed to urbanization. • Food needs to be moved from the centers of production to the cities. • Technology allows for longer storage and more distant movement.

  17. Food Storage • MikalSaltveit, a Plant Science professor at the University of California, “directs a lab concerned with ‘how to keep lettuce and carrots from browning, among other things.’” • He claims that throughout human history, man has been preoccupied with storing food. • Societies invented such things as salting, drying, pickling, and fermenting. • Storage practices were developed over time to lessen the hardships of summer months where there was little food to survive on.

  18. Industrial Revolution • The Industrial Revolution came at a time when large standing armies were established and people began urbanizing at an appalling rate. • 1809: Napoleon offered a reward to anyone who could find a way to keep rations from spoiling. • A French chef, Nicolas Appert developed the first method for canning as a response. • He “packed food into glass jars, sealed the cork tops with pitch, and boiled the jars.” • 1815: the British had refined the technique with tin-coated steel. • 1860s: canned foods were everywhere.

  19. Industrial Revolution cont. • 1875: Mechanical refrigeration • A Chicago meatpacker, Gustavus Swift, developed a refrigerated railroad car. • Later advances in freezing during WWI brought about a frozen food craze. • Mid-1920s: Birds-eye started freezing produce. • 1920s: British scientists created a storage process for apples that slows ripening. • Today: most all apples are shipped with this technique.

  20. Recent Food Storage • 1924: Ethylene discovered • Ethylene gas allows companies to ship fruits unripe and ripen them upon arrival to their destination. • Most bananas today are bred to not ripen on their own, and instead must wait for a gassing. • Top food preservation techniques rely on no packing or cooling and instead look to biotechnology.

  21. Mikal Saltveit • “Both traditional plant breeding and biotechnological genetic engineering are being used.” • Mikal warns that concerns about genetic tainting shouldn’t mar its uses. • “Reducing softening of tomatoes by anti-sensing [reversing through genetic engineering] a specific gene should not be viewed with the same concern as introducing human genes into a pig.”

  22. Science Fiction? • For extremely fragile foods, scientists are currently looking into edible packaging. • Works best with whole, uncut foods. • Working with this technology, the US Army has created an “indestructible sandwich.” • Can stay fresh for as long as three years.

  23. Squeamishness • People have always been wary of new food storage techniques. • Some of the first canned foods were labeled “embalmed.” • In the first half of the 20th century there was widespread opposition to the pasteurization of milk. • People may reminisce about veggies before genetic engineering, but they must remember, according to Saltveit, that they were not available year round back then. • Saltveit: “quality of food is increasing as is the healthfulness of the diet.”

  24. Opposition • Robert Sommers, another University of California professor disagrees with Saltveit. • “The universities were supporting research to make things look pretty at the neglect of things that were important to consumers. • Argues that “hard” tomatoes were the turning point in this type of research. • “consumer resistance to the tough, square, tasteless tomato was so great that the universities couldn’t just support the mechanical, industrial type of agriculture.”

  25. Opposition cont. • Sommers recalls that tough fruits are able to be picked much faster by machines than by people. • Many California farm workers have been put out of work by mechanization. • After several events like this, the University of California established a few alternative agriculture programs.

  26. Jet-Lagged Fruits • Falling oil prices and new modes of transportation in the mid 1900s reduced the costs of shipping food. • Traveling produce uses as many modes of transportation as people during their vacations. • Ride a boat from England to east US coast, then refrigerated train cars across the nation, shipped to Japan, and then trucked across the country. • During all of this movement, produce is taking advantage of its many storage wonders. • Containerization, or the process of using small, uniform containers that are easily loaded and moved, has further increased the speed at which food is transported.

  27. So Happy Together… • Food shipping and processing advances work in tandem. • In response to the US government asking for an orange juice that could be shipped overseas to US troops fighting in WWII. • Starting point for multibillion dollar frozen orange juice business.

  28. Fuel for Lettuce • All of the movement across the globe requires ridiculous amounts of fuel. • A head of lettuce grown in California and shipped to Washington DC costs 36 times as much fuel energy as it provides in protein energy when consumed. • When this head arrives in London the fuel energy/protein energy ratio is 127. • These “Perishables” are the fastest growing segment of the food shipping industry. • Most international trade is by boat and rail. • More efficient than airplanes.

  29. Fuel for Dry Food • Beans and grains can be shipped without refrigeration. • These small foods can contain loads of protein and nutrition. • Cause four times less greenhouse gas emissions than perishables. • In Britain, food transport is the country’s fastest growing industry and therefore its leading greenhouse gas emitter.

  30. Farming Effects • Climate change hits farms the hardest. • Farms require a stable climate to be productive. • Studies provide evidence that in the next 50 years, agricultural yields in many areas will drop substantially.

  31. Global Change • Dependence upon imported foods will become ever more expensive as climate damage continues. • Due to heavy dependence on fossil fuels. • Shocks to the oil industry like peak production or massive price increases will also negatively affect our food production.

  32. Local Foods • Interest in local food production could help break an addiction to oil. • By learning to farm with less oil now, farmers will avoid negative consequences in the future. • Illogical to import foods. • Many nations import foods they already produce. • This “food swap” is part of the subsidization of transportation, centralization by food manufacturers, and trade agreements that set import quotas. • These economic forces explain why Tropicana juice bottles list over five countries for concentrate origins. • How can one be sure of what he/she is drinking?

  33. Ecological Economist Herman Daly • “Americans import Danish sugar cookies, and Danes import American sugar cookies. Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.”

  34. Waste • Food trade cycles leave enormous pressure to deal with waste on one end. • On the other end, there is a loss of useful organic waste. • Food scraps and packages now make up a greater portion of waste than ever before. • Edible packaging could help. • Landfills filled with food waste could be utilized.

  35. Conclusion • Long-distance food has helped feed people, but it has been overdeveloped. • Necessary at one time. • Greed is motivation. • Technology overused. • Elimination of local growers and food. • Taste reduction. • Wasted fossil fuels and organic matter.

More Related