Tuesday, April 28, 2009

North American Flu and Locavores

It's not "swine-flu", it's "North American flu" because it is a mixture of strains of flu (human, bird, swine) so WHO says to call it by its location.

I assume foodies like Obamafoodorama will jump on it, as in this:

"There are all kinds of environmental and "nutritional" arguments for smaller, regional and local food production, and an event like the current pork pushback is yet another reason why unchaining American Ag from the vagaries of global trade makes sense in the 21st century. Local and regional food sourcing is also a better model in terms of general food safety (we currently are capable of inspecting less than one percent of our own imported foods). Our recent domestic foodborne disease outbreaks have been national in scope because of our trans-continental distribution system, in which a single peanut or pistachio plant can poison the entire country. Smaller and more local also makes much sense in terms of economic security for American farmers, because they're not put at risk for economic destruction by the decisions---perhaps panic based--of distant foreign governments."
It seems to make sense, but I doubt it. The problem is the market is not truly local. For example, if CAFO's can't export pork, they won't plow under the pigs, they'll sell the pork in the U.S. Now a locavore pasture-raised pig grower probably depends on being able to charge a significant premium for her higher-quality pork. But if a pork chop at the Safeway goes to half price, that's likely to draw away customers for the locavore pork. And the lesson learned over and over in agriculture is that the big boys have the reserves to ride out the hard times.

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