Monday, March 23, 2009
Trailer for movie Food Inc.
"After being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.
The most vocal booster so far has been the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has emphasized the need for fresh, unprocessed, locally grown food and, last week, started work on a White House vegetable garden. More surprising, perhaps, are the pronouncements out of the Department of Agriculture, an agency with long and close ties to agribusiness.
In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic “people’s garden.” Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Mr. Vilsack’s top deputy.
Mr. Hirshberg and other sustainable-food activists are hoping that such actions are precursors to major changes in the way the federal government oversees the nation’s food supply and farms, changes that could significantly bolster demand for fresh, local and organic products. Already, they have offered plenty of ambitious ideas."
"The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.
They argue that farm policy — and federal dollars — should instead encourage farmers to grow more diverse crops, reward conservation practices and promote local food networks that rely less on fossil fuels for such things as fertilizer and transportation."
1.) From New York Times
2.) Vertical Farming
3.) "Skyscraper Farming" March 2, 2009
4.) Time Magazine article on Vertical Farming.
5.) The advantages of Vertical Farming:
-Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
-No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
-VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
-VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
-VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
-VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of
-VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible
parts of plants and animals
-VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
-VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
-VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
-VF creates new employment opportunities
-We cannot go to the moon, Mars, or beyond without first learning to farm indoors on
-VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
-VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
LDCs. If this should prove to be the case, then VF may be a catalyst in helping to reduce or even reverse the population growth of LDCs as they adopt urban agriculture as a strategy for sustainable food production.
-VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water
and land for agriculture.