Food Fight… Not

There is a real food fight going on between two camps; those who support industrial, GMO-based agriculture that produces food that can only be manufactured with a bar code label on it and those who prefer local fresh and organic food that can be eaten right off the farm. Often the battle cry is over who can better feed the world. Only humans would pick this fight. All other animal species know exactly what to eat compared to humans who make food choices that put their health at risk. The CDC estimates over $147 billion is spent each year in America to treat obesity related diseases like heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes, due to our high fat diet associated with a high consumption of meat.

Before we get sucked into all the rhetoric I think we would be wise to dispel this myth about which camp can best feed the world. Whose idea was it that the world needed us to feed them anyway? The most strident voices are advocates for industrial GMO agriculture such as Monsanto who routinely reference this myth that says we need to increase global food production 50% by 2030 and to double it by 2050, something they claim only their industrial GMO agriculture can do. This assumes our population grows from 6 billion today to 9 billion by 2050. This “fact” has been quoted by scientists, politicians, big agriculture and the GMO industry so often you might think it is true … not so says the Soil Association, a UK charity and organic food advocate founded in 1946.

In an effort to find the basis for these claims, the Soil Association tracked one source back to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and its 2006 report. Based on a list of assumptions that are debatable to begin with, the report stated the overall shortfall in production was only 70%. To achieve that the FAO report does indicate the need to double grain production, most of which is fed to livestock, not people. Maybe that’s where the doubling food production myth started. The report also assumes that the demand will come from developing nations who want a Western style diet filled with much higher meat consumptions. But what country in their right mind would want to abandon their own food culture for our $147 billion per year health care bill?

As a farmer applying both industrial GMO and organic farming systems, the jury is still out for our Soper family farms. We farm industrial corn & beans and organic row crops. Up next is a farm plan that raises grass-fed livestock and organic vegetables, all integrated into one farming system. It’s like one big farming science project. The grade we get is to be determined. But I assure you it has nothing to do with this feed-the-world myth. Let’s not get into this silly food fight at all. It is a waste. Wait, that brings up another subject of food waste. I’ll save for later. Stay tuned.

My best and don’t forget to chew carefully,

Harn Soper
Soper Farms, Emmetsburg, Iowa