Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

Client Response to Waging A Living August 14, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — localfoodsconnection @ 5:18 pm

Below is a response written by a Local Foods Connection client after viewing the documentary “Waging a Living” by filmmaker Roger Weisberg. Learn more about the movie at the following link:

 http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2006/wagingaliving/

“Waging A Living” is a great reality check and I’ll share it with friends. The real time life stories of four individuals were compelling and beautiful in their earnest depictions of strength and determination. I was moved by the matter-of-fact courage each person demonstrated, in the act of revealing his or her economic and spiritual vulnerability. These are brave, honest people!

It was heartening to see my own experiences and those of close friends reflected in validated in this work of a compassionate filmmaker.

I was impressed that all four individuals were engaged in work they found meaningful and worthwhile, and each was skilled in his or her respective field. Yet no one was receiving just compensation, even as each persevered in employment as care-giver or service provider.

All four individuals were parents, and in three of the four cases, the majority of earning went directly toward shelter, food and complete care of their families, sometimes including grandchildren.

All four parents faced trying to support their families on a wage insufficient to adequately support themselves individually.

The system we currently live within employs an infrastructure that actively and intentionally undervalues and barely compensates the work performed by caregivers and service workers.

Seemingly without consciousness or conscience, commerce proceeds. Those at the top of the economic pyramid pretend they stand on moral high ground, while pursuing the BOTTOM-LINE. And those at the lower end of our capitalist society, inevitable struggle against impossible odds.

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Meet Adam Boswell, Des Moines Area Coordinator August 3, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — localfoodsconnection @ 10:53 pm

Hi!  I grew up on a family farm in southwest Iowa, so I’ve been involved in agriculture for as long as I can remember.  I love being close to the land. This may sound strange to those who have not had the experience of working the soil and growing their own food, but being a part of that process of life can really connect you to your sustenance -- farming can be a very spiritual experience.

Nostalgia aside, the economics of agriculture are now changing in a way should concern everyone who eats.  Where farming was at one time primarily controlled by farmers, more power and money are ceded to agricultural conglomerates each year.  In most cases, farmers no longer own the land, crops, or livestock that they work with.  Big farms are getting bigger, and small family farms are dying out.  Productivity has come to depend more on the pesticides, petrochemicals, and genetic engineering from large corporations than on the laborers in the fields. There are definitely advantages to this.  Food is now cheaper than it has ever been.  A single American farmer today (with the help of chemicals and gene splicing) can feed 100 people.  There is no question that industrialized agriculture is much more efficient than the old farm-family system could ever dream of being.

So, does that mean it’s a good thing? Unfortunately not.  There’s an old adage that states “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  History has demonstrated the truth in this statement time and time again.  When any individual (or company) has so much control over the market that they can set prices and production levels to whatever they like, they usually will use this power to their own advantage. The agricultural conglomerates have already started doing this.

In 1993, agri-corps ADM and Ajinomoto were discovered in an illegal agreement to mutually cut their lysine (an important amino acid) production so that they can charge more from from farmers, and in turn, food consumers. Modern conditions are ripe for this type of collusion.  Right now, there are four companies that control over 60% of the flour in this country, and four that control 80% of the cattle, 75% of the hogs, and 50% of the poultry.  We can’t know exactly how the numbers break down within those four because the federal government keeps information on the largest four companies in an industry secret. Where does this leave farmers?  Currently, of every dollar you spend in the supermarket, about 20 cents wind up in the farmers pocket.  To put this in perspective, Phillip Morris alone receives 10% (no, that’s not counting tobacco as food).  And, our beloved Wal Mart is now the nation’s largest food retailer.

Is anything wrong with this picture?  We are, as a nation, becoming more and more dependent on a few very rich and powerful corporations.  That trend won’t change unless we take action. I’ve heard and read arguments against local, small-scale, and organic agriculture on the basis that, since it is less efficient, it cannot feed the world; food would be too expensive for low-income families to afford.

It was while I was wrestling with this argument that I stumbled across Local Foods Connection--an organization that has proven this argument to be false. As a community of concerned, informed citizens, we can act to return power and profits the hands of farmers and the people they feed.  As the local food movement spreads, it is becoming easier and easier to find a small farmer willing to sell fresh, healthy food directly to those who will eat it.  And now, with LFC, we can come together as a community and donate the time and money it will take to provide the same fresh, wholesome meals to neighbors who can’t afford it on their own.  It’s as grassroots as you can get. This is why I got involved with LFC and local agriculture.  Others have gotten involved for reasons concerning health, wildlife, labor conditions, global warming, cloning and genetic modification, the list goes on.  This page has only scraped the tip of the iceberg, so if you have any questions about any of these issues, I encourage you to email me, talk to others involved in agriculture in areas that might interest you, and to do your own research.  I hope that, if you aren’t already, you’ll want to get involved too, whether through volunteering, making a donation, or even just shopping your local farmers market or signing up for a CSA. 

Best Wishes, 

Adam Boswell

boswell_adam@hotmail.com

 

Volunteer & Sponsor of the Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — localfoodsconnection @ 10:50 pm

Volunteer of the Week:

Most of July 2007: Natalie Wilkerson. Natalie from the North Liberty Community Food Pantry is enrolled the Food Pantry in our program. She ensured the paperwork was filled out completely, picks up the shares, and sees to it that the food is distributed.

August 6, 2007: Willa Campbell. Willa has volunteered on a farm and in the office. She has also delivered food to a client and conducted lots of research.

Sponsor of the Week:

Most of July 2007: Surya Inc., in Fairfield. Surya made a financial donation to LFC.

August 6, 2007. Summit House, cooperative housing residence, in Iowa City. Summit House had a yard sale, and donated the proceeds to the members’ favorite nonprofits. Local Foods Connection was one of them!