Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Washington Monthly and the Food Movement

The new Monthly has an article on ethanol and agriculture, incorporating many of the food movement's arguments: Here's a key paragraph:
Let us suppose, for example, that we paid growers like Picht to minimize deep plowing and to plant winter-cover crops so as to prevent erosion, filter pollutants, and build up the soil; to practice rotations of alfalfa, clover, vetch, peas, and other nitrogen-producing plants to minimize the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides; to grow not just monocultures of corn and wheat and soybeans, but more fresh fruits and vegetables, which currently receive almost no subsidies.
There's two problems with this proposal I'd like to point out:
  • if you convert from a corn/soybeans rotation of some sort to include alfalfa...etc., over 10 years you're losing some percentage of your total production.  That means you have to find more land to grow corn and soybeans on.
  • the conversion also gives you a large quantity of alfalfa, ...etc. for which there currently is no use.  Either you destroy the prices received by current alfalfa...etc. growers or you have to find a new use for the produce.


Anonymous said...

Maybe we could pass a law to mandate more salads in school lunches with alfalfa sprouts.

Bill Harshaw said...

Or give every school kid a rabbit to care for and provide subsidized alfalfa pellets for them.