~ Food Plans Require Action Now ~
The call of the land is amping up into a howl sounded around the world, a howl that is beginning to echo down the aisles of food markets and within empty bellies, far and near.
World food prices hit a record high in January. They have continued their sharp rise through early February. By a convincing majority, observers of the global food scene expect supply to continue being pinched, and for prices to climb relentlessly upward, perhaps as much as another 40% in the Americas over the next two years, and even higher elsewhere.
“The world is now in an era where it has to be very serious about food supply.” – Josette Sheeran, director, UN World Food Program
Now is the time for action. We’re in a global danger zone. Ultimately, the Americas are entwined with all that unfolds in the realm of farms and food around the world. The UN’s acute concern is that the latest spikes in prices will spark a repeat of the deadly food riots that broke out in 2008 in Haiti, Kenya and Somalia. Just since the start of 2011, surging food prices have helped fuel the ongoing rage of citizens in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan.
The UN expects to see more hunger and famine, and consequently more rebellion in the year ahead. For farms, food, and famine, three powerful forces are at work:
- Speculators are heedlessly active for profit, snapping up commodities and thereby impelling food prices upward. UN reports show that up to 70% of business on commodity markets is speculation rather than trade.
- Economist Paul Krugman writing in The New York Times points to another monster factor, climate change: “While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production…”
- The third driving factor is Peak Oil. World food prices follow oil prices (93% correlation since 2000). The vast enterprise of industrial agriculture rests on the supply of oil for fuel, fertilizer, and chemicals. Fossil fuel prices are spiking upward again in earnest, boosting food prices with them
The global food situation is morphing rapidly. The potential for various levels of chaos is palpable. This critical reality calls for smart, swift response.
Thousands of pioneering households and communities, churches, and companies have already devised working, healthy, sustainable responses, and established models for taking care of the land, for producing an abundance of clean food, and of finding ways to knit themselves together around something foundational: our food and how we grow it. Those models stand out as intelligent and worthy responses to the howl of the times and of the land.
To portray a broad array of these positive, proactive models for households and communities, I teamed up with my partner Elizabeth Wolf and the skillful publishing trio at NorLightsPress.com to do something more comprehensive as a guide for people. We wanted to offer readers an even wider and richer range of possibilities for creative responses to the urgent howl of the land. We accomplished our goal. We have completed our work assembling a greatly expanded 2nd edition of The Call of the Land: An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century. You can check it out here.
Our hope is that the 2nd edition of The Call of the Land will serve as a rough guide for many as we navigate this era of change. We feel that farms, farmers markets, CSAs, schools, companies, and many other constellations of humanity will find it to be a good tool for teaching, and especially for building wider community support.
We have scheduled the official publication date of this 2nd edition of the book for April. However, owing to the global food crisis, we felt it important to make it available now.
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