söndag 13 april 2008

Rising food prices

The reasons for rising food prices need to be clarified. One cause is that land which could be used to grow food is being used to grow crops for conversion into transport fuels. The other is that food that people could eat is being fed to animals for meat production.

Put plainly, to move around by sitting in a vehicle that weighs the best part of a ton is an evolutionary dead end. The only viable and sustainable form of individual personal transport is human powered. Now that people in India and China are getting into cars, this plain fact will quickly become apparent. If we want to travel at more than bicycle speeds, it can only be done by collective transport such as bus, train, tram or boat. And even then, speeds will have to be limited to an optimum figure. High speed trains will be out of the question and unnecessary anyway, as the competition from cars and aircraft will have largely dropped out.

Seeing that Adolf Hitler was a strict vegetarian, I am suspicious of over-zealous advocacy of meat free living. Personally I have nothing against meat eating in principle, provided that the animals have had a natural life and slaughtered as humanely as possible. But when food is fed to animals for meat production, between 60% and 90% is wasted due to the poor conversion figure. Some land cannot be used for crop production, or is used for things like forestry. Grazing animals is an efficient way of utilising such land. That is good farming practice. Pigs, for example, used to be allowed to roam free in forests and would be rounded up once a year. Chickens used to be fed with kitchen waste and would produce eggs now and again. This is very different from keeping the animals indoors and feeding them with sacks of goodness knows what. That is not farming. In good farming practice, there are no more animals that the land can normally sustain. If food has to be bought in other than occasionally, there is something seriously wrong.

For the consumer, it means that meat and dairy produce should be a small part of the diet. Which in any case makes for a healthy balance.

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