In Conversation: Rod MacRae, Co-Editor
Why has urban food security dropped off the agenda?
I'm not sure whether it has ever been on the agenda, at least in a western world setting. In the South, in some quarters, it's been a pressing issue as people flock to urban areas, and as the urban infrastructure, especially of large cities, begins to crumble. In a western setting, I don't think it's ever been a priority except during war time. Canada had a Department of Food, or a Ministry of Food, during the Second World War. Ensuring domestic food procurement for the population was a key priority, as well as ensuring food for the troops.
Some people are saying that globalization is the solution to food security. Some are saying it's the problem. What's your view?
Globalization is a huge problem. At a conceptual level, globalization is breaking some of the fundamental rules of ecology. You can't continually export materials out of one region and import materials into another region without negative environmental consequences ranging from the drain of nutrients to the introduction of exotic pests. At an economic level, it's also a disaster. Globalization, in combination with the concentration of wealth and power in the agrifood sector, means that the farm sector has no control over the price it pays for inputs or the prices it receives for outputs. That of course has negative ramifications for everything from government budgets to the viability of rural communities. Having said that, I'm not against trade, but to paraphrase a colleague of mine, trade philosophy should be "feed the family, trade the leftovers." Focus on meeting domestic demand, and ensuring that you're producing food that nourishes the population.
Read the full discussion: http://www.farmconnections.org/Library/rod_macrae.htm