Here’s a round-up of interesting articles on food- and farm-related issues that recently appeared in the papers:
Is a New Food Policy on His List? This article tries to gauge how much President-elect Barack Obama will try to reform the food system in America. Given the gravity of the financial crisis, food reform advocates are trying to be realistic about what can be achieved.
Miro’s Rich Harvest: Joan Miro lived in Paris but his heart was in the countryside of Spain’s Catalonia region, where the famous abstract painter grew up. Miro’s love of farms is reflected in “The Farm,” a masterpiece that took him more than nine months to paint. Miro aimed to embody all that “he loved about the country” in the painting and all that he had learned artistically up to that point. The painting is deceptively simple, with details—like roosters and rabbits—that are easily missed. Click and see if you can find them.
Forest Plan in Brazil Bears the Traces of an Activist’s Vision: Chico Mendes, a Brazilian activist slain for his attempts to save the Amazon rain forest, may not have died in vain. Brazil — one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, according to the article — this month introduced targets for reducing deforestation in the country by 72 percent by 2017. The burning of forests to clear land for farming and ranching accounts for 75 percent of Brazil’s carbon dioxide emissions. The timing for the initiative probably couldn’t be better, given the global recession. The demand for food and agricultural goods ebbs during recessionary times.
In Zimbabwe, Survival Lies in Scavenging: This story focuses primarily on the political reasons for the sorry state of affairs in hunger-stricken Zimbabwe. I picked it because it alludes to farm policy issues that likely contributed to the disaster. The article mentions that President Mugabe’s war thugs seized “mechanized, white-owned commercial farms.” This hurt small farmers who could no longer afford to buy higher-priced hybrid seed and fertilizer. Because large-scale farmers had economies of scale, prices for these agriculture products were lower and therefore more affordable to small farmers. The role of commercial farms in the breakdown of Zimbabwe would be interesting to explore.
Wheat Rises in Week of MGE Floor’s Adieu: Will Jack Frost kill the winter wheat crop in the Plains and raise commodity prices? That was the question before traders last Friday as they bought and sold futures contracts on wheat. Overall traders were bullish, with wheat prices rising on the nation’s three commodities exchanges – the Kansas City Board of Trade, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. So, how much was a bushel of wheat going for? Anywhere from $5.63 to $6.25.