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We Could Feed the World With Sustainable Food If We Stopped Wanting It to Be Pretty

by Chris “Kikila” Perrin, Underground Reporter:

Following the screening of the film, The Milking Parlour, a panel including authors, journalists, artists, filmmakers, and farmers discussed the plausibility that farming can continue in a sustainable way, particularly given continuous global population growth. In brief, members of the group felt that farming, as it stands, is not sustainable. Despite there being enough food crops produced per year to feed the majority of the world’s population, livestock alone consumes 1.3 billion tons of grain, resources some participants feel might be better used in feeding humans.

Author and Hindu scholar, Ranchor Prime, suggests that it is a question of our standards and expectations. Given the often misguided Western expectation that food appearance directly equates quality and health, suggested methods of sustainable farming fall sadly short of our aesthetic standards, contributing to food waste and the elimination of plausible alternative methods that may benefit a majority of low-income consumers.

The film that brought about this conversation focuses on a living art exhibit that depicts the experiences of Nessie Reid, Cape Farewell’s artist-in-residence, living with two dairy cows in the centre of town for several days. Reid’s hope was to examine her interaction with her food system while showcasing her community’s general distance from the same. One of the themes explored by Reid’s exhibit shows how the Western obsession with hygiene creates a rather monolithic barrier that prohibits any real discussion on sustainable agriculture and husbandry.

There are two options when it comes to working, honestly and truly, towards creating a system that not only has the potential to feed the world’s ever-increasing population: the status quo, and reducing some of our notions of clinical sanitation and aesthetic perfection. One will see even more food waste, and even more people starving, and another might hold the solution to a looming problem. Even if that solution might feel a little uncomfortable at first.

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2 comments to We Could Feed the World With Sustainable Food If We Stopped Wanting It to Be Pretty

  • Ed_B

    “… livestock alone consumes 1.3 billion tons of grain, resources some participants feel might be better used in feeding humans.”

    Then let them eat bread… while the rest of us have a nice juicy steak, a plate filled with baked or fried chicken, or a few scrambled eggs. Chickens need grain too, ya know? Yes, oatmeal is cheap and nutritious too but that does not mean I want to eat it all the time.

    • aa

      Cattle are grass eaters, not grain eaters like chicken so grain should never be fed to cattle. Read “Comeback Farms” by Greg Judy, read Joel Saladin etc etc. It’s amazing how many people buy into the nonsense that cattle need grain. According to men like Judy, Ian Innes in south africa and many others cattle can be packed densely and moved very frequently using portable electric fence. They consume about sixty percent or so of grass and weeds and their hoofs stomp their urnie and feces into the remaining vegetation and the soil grows more fertile every year. This is covered in Comeback Farms which is a great read. Cattle can be grass fed on marginal land and if this technique is used correctly soil improves every year but the establishment will never listen to men like these.

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