- Slides: 17
The Organic Food Chain What is the political arguments? Sustainable Schools Programme
Growing organic food uses far fewer fossil fuel-based fertilisers and chemical pesticides than those used in conventional farming, so its production contributes far less to climate change, soil erosion and water shortages as well as having fewer adverse effects on the health of growers and consumers.
• But long-distance air and road transport of food – even food with impeccable organic credentials – is environmentally damaging (oh dear!). • Air transport creates twice as much nitrogen oxide as road transport, and 25 times as much as rail and sea transport. Despite this, air freighting of food is expected to double in the next 20 years. Road transport creates 50 times as much carbon dioxide as rail transport for each ton of food moved. Worse, food that travels long distance usually needs more packaging. • At present, at least 70 per cent of the organic food consumed in Britain is imported – rising to 80 per cent for fruit and vegetables (most organic eggs and meat is domestically produced).
• Food which has travelled a shorter distance before it gets eaten should be fresher and have more nutrients – and should also benefit consumers’ immune systems. • Some researchers believe that the dramatic rise in allergies and autoimmune diseases, particularly among the urban poor may, in part, be a result of people no longer eating food which has been produced in their local environment. • Eating food produced locally enables people’s immune systems to learn which particles are harmless to the body. Hay fever, asthma and allergies to certain foods, for instance, occur when the immune system overreacts to benign airborne particles such as pollen or components in food as if they were highly toxic.
fat – I guess you know what that is. You find it in fried foods, cheese, butter, margarine and oils proteins which you find in meat, fish, beans and stuff carbohydrate s – sugar is one and you find others in bread, cereals and vegetables
Where does food come from? How is it made? — Easy. You know the answer already, don’t you? Food comes from farms – right? Wrong!
What do you make of these, for example? • butylated hydroxytoluene (in some chips, salted peanuts, breakfast cereals and many other things) • calcium disodium ethylene diamine tetra acetate (in salad dressings and some drinks) • sodium L-ascorbate (a form of vitamin C)
Farming — Farming is a very efficient way of growing the sort of food people want to eat, in very large amounts. Until early last century, all farming was based on sustainable methods because there was no choice. Today , people in poor countries continue this way of growing food because they cannot afford the machinery and chemicals needed for modern industrial farming. Industrial farming certainly makes loads of food but it damages the land, sea and air. There alternatives such as organic farming which is sustainable. The problem with organic farming is that the farmers have to be much more skilled.
They can’t rely on spraying and 'instant' fertilisers and have to plan their crops in a very different way. This means more people have jobs and this type of farming is nature-friendly. . . but organic food is more expensive. There is a huge argument about this at the moment. Modern industrial farmers say that only they can ‘feed the world’, preferably using genetically engineered crops. The sustainable farmers say this is nonsense!
But sustainable farming has to be the future because industrial farming does so much damage to the world we all live in and the oil it depends on will run out.
Fishing — Once, people who lived near lakes, rivers and the sea often depended on fishing for much of their food. Today, most small fishermen who just caught enough fish for themselves with some left over to sell locally, have lost their jobs. Why? Because humans always want more and more of everything. They’ve built big ships which can catch millions of fish in just a few days so there aren’t enough left to breed and make baby fish. No baby fish means no new adult fish… which soon means no fish at all! And because of the pollution from chemicals from farming and factories – which gets into the rivers and then the seas – many fish are either not able to breed or contain so much pollution themselves that they are not good to eat any more. This is very sad because fish are yummy and the oily ones are very healthy for people and penguins to eat… or were. Some people have found that they can farm fish too. This seems like a good idea until you find that they too use poisons on the fish to stop diseases which only start because the fish are kept close together in tanks or floating net cages in the sea.
Food processing — Even if you buy flour to make your own bread, that flour is processed. First the wheat grains get ground up in a mill and then different parts, like the brown outside of the seed, get separated. Then, if you don’t make your own bread (hardly anyone does this anymore), the flour is mixed with other ingredients and baked in an oven to make the loaf you buy in the shop. That’s an example of simple food processing. Almost every food you buy in a packet, box or tub is processed in some way. This is where some problems can start. Most of the food you eat will have been processed in a factory in some way. An fresh orange is not processed – though unless you eat the peel too (ugh!) you will process it yourself by peeling the skin off. Food processing used to be done at home but now, people have become rather lazy – or just too busy - and prefer to have someone else do it so they can buy and eat right away. This adds to the cost. How many of the foods you eat come from factories, do you think?
Milk (which is a food) usually gets put in packages after being heated to kill any bugs (pasteurised). Then it’s cooled and taken in big trucks to supermarkets and shops. Milk can be made into cheese too. Skimmed milk has the cream taken off to be sold separately as cream or butter. Some milk gets made into yoghurt. Snack foods like chips. There are hundreds. Most of them are made from potatoes, corn (maize) or other grains with added salt, sugar and fat which makes them taste good Tinned, frozen or dried (dehydrated) food Breads, biscuits, crackers Soda drinks (pop, fizzy) like cola and fruit flavours. Some of these really are foods because they contain nutrients like sugar Meat – animals are killed in special factories called abattoirs (slaughter houses). Almost every scrap of them is used for something. For example, their skins become leather for clothing and shoes, and other stuff that nobody would much like the look of gets made into sausages and pie fillings. Sugar, this is made from crushing either sugar beet or sugar cane Spreads