Remember how we were told by Monsanto et al over a decade ago that their new genetically-tweaked Bt corn seeds with “built-in pesticides” would need less pesticides and be therefore more environmentally friendly? Guess what: The insects have developed a resistance to the seeds’ defenses — and as a results, farmers in the US’ Corn Belt are dumping more pesticides than ever to keep the insects from devouring their corn crops. And it’s not just corn-targeting insects that have got tougher over the years: Soybeans and cotton crops are also under siege by superweeds as well as superbugs. All of this as we are now being told that unless we either dramatically increase our food production or practice sustainable population and lifestyle management, we won’t have enough food worldwide to go around in 2050.
Of course, the easiest and best ways to to deal with the farming part of these problems would involve developing new concepts like sustainable intensification and bringing back old concepts like crop rotation, but those aren’t solutions that please the corn syrup and ethanol industries or other Big Ag titans as it might result in less raw materials coming their way. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the suspension of the sustainable food production program at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls, Minnesota earlier this year after a sudden, unheralded change of heart in the school’s administration last fall.
The supporters of food sanity aren’t taking this lying down. They have organized in an effort to convince the MSCTC bigwigs to rethink their opposition to sustainability, and their website is standforfood.com. You can also find them at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StandForFood
and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Stand4Food.
The sustainable food program helped farmers of all sizes, large and small. Here’s how one sustainable food program graduate on the smaller end of the scale describes what she’s learned about sustainable intensification:
I live in Fergus Falls and tend a 400-square foot community garden plot (there are ten plots) and I am a graduate of the Sustainable Food Production program at M State. This has been a very rewarding (though proven challenging, at times!) experience for me and, through the program, I discovered that I harbored an inner-obsession with vegetable gardening. I hope to enter into the urban-agriculture sector and teach people how to garden – in front yards, back yards, on porches, and in a windowsill! This is my third year gardening and I’ve never grown so much of my own food. It is amazing!
As we look around the groves of academia, we find sustainable food production programs at Ivy League schools and other private institutions, but Minnesota’s farmers’ markets, artisan cheese and CSAs are pretty down home and popular, rather than elite boutiques. Shouldn’t education and entry into this burgeoning market be available to students at affordable public community and technical colleges?
I think it should.
And for your musical interlude today: REM’s “Stand”, a still from which graces this post.