Are Agricultural Cooperatives the key to Feeding the World?

 

Why do we do what we do?

 

It’s a question that we often think about here at Bucky Box HQ, and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on things these days.  We believe that the food system needs to work for all humans, and the living system we rely on – whether you call her Papatūānuku, Mother Earth, or something else.

 

There’s certainly need for celebration & awareness raising about the importance of issues beyond just the local food movements in developed nations, but also the need for change & energy to be focused on empowering those who are not so fortunate.

 

World Food Day is on 16 October (tomorrow as we’re writing this), so get involved! We’ll be joining the fray, and you can follow @FAOWFD for updates on twitter, or check out some of the videos on the World Food Day Youtube channel.

 

Cooperatives to feed the world?There’s a specific focus this year on the modern day Agricultural Cooperative, and how the revival may be the key to feeding the world.  It’s also the year of the cooperative. There does seem to be some weight to the suggestion – in our own country, New Zealand, one of our largest employers & economic powerhouses is Fonterra – a multi-billion dollar co-operative which provides c25% of the world’s milk powder.  If you’d like to learn more about the theme, check out the FAO World Food Day website.

 

So, join usget involved in World Food Day, take some time out to think about why You do what you do, and make a difference to those who need a hand up.

Do Molly's Quiz for World Food Day, and give people a hand up out of poverty.

 

Disclaimer: Sam has been to Nairobi, and has family who grew up in Africa – it’s a place dear to his heart & he can’t help but reach out & share his love for the continent and many of the people who live there. Thanks for taking the time to read, if all you do is share the video then we’re a step closer to making life better for some people, somewhere in the world. Arohanui from Aotearoa!

Production, Distribution & Waste – Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

Recently we’ve heard the same old arguments being pumped out by industrial agriculture, especially in reaction to the droughts in the US.

 

The argument goes: “There’s almost 7 billion people on Earth, and there’s 1 billion hungry. We need more food to feed the world. We must intensify agriculture; bigger & better, and we’ve got the answer – we call it a Sustainable Agriculture”.  That ‘Sustainable Agriculture future’ is typically large-scale intensive agriculture, GMO, and more sophisticated ‘scientific’ farming methods.  Inevitably the cost of this agriculture is greater, and farmers must have all of the latest information, tools, machinery & chemicals to make it happen.  It also, coincidentally, means greater profits for the big boys of industrial agriculture (rather than farmers).

 

There’s an assumption in there that needs testing: “We need more food to feed the world”.  It’s so often taken as a given, but there significant research which suggests otherwise.

 

We grow enough food to feed 10 billion people already. Eric Holt-Giménez recently wrote a fantastic rebuttal of the industrial agriculture view on the future of food. The first part of his argument centres around the point that Hunger is not caused by scarcity, but by poverty – that is what needs to be tackled to feed the hungry people in the world, not more food.  It follows on to show that Industrial Ag Vs Natural Farming does not represent the gaps in yields that are constantly talked about by GMO advocates. The longest running study (Rodale Institute – 47 year study) shows that Organic farming has better yields & profits, whilst requiring lower energy inputs & causing lower greenhouse gas outputs.

 

We Already Grow Enough Food - Infographic - Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

The UN have put out several studies on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture which do not support the Industrial Ag spin. They don’t stand to create vast profits from their view, but they do expect to see greater advances in sustainable development & poverty alleviation through more agriculture shifting to small-scale agroecological production. There also are gains in climate resilience and energy reduction from adopting farming based on ecological systems.

 

A 2011 report on Food Waste by the Food & Agriculture Organisation (PDF) suggests 1/3 of global food production is wasted through the supply chain or pre/post consumption. This food waste infographic featured on Food+Tech Connect supports this argument, showing it’s as high as 40% in the US.

 

It’s clear to see there’s significant work that needs to be addressed on the Consumer side of things, but this also supports our assertion that a big change needs to happen upstream.  If food distribution were to change from the centralised, industrial model that accounts for 99% of our food system, to local food webs, then we have the opportunity to disrupt the food waste in this area of the chain too.

 

The world has changed since our food system was invented – the information & web revolution has made new things possible – aggregation of supply & demand through web-based tools is just one of them.  We built Bucky Box for many reasons, one of which indicates the potential for decentralised food systems & local food webs to be more efficient than Industrialised Ag.  By re-localising food distribution with these new tools, we can efficiently move food from farm to fork with minimal wastage, instead of farm to landfill.

 

The time has come for a revolution in our food system.  It may be a quiet revolution which sees individuals consciously choosing to buy local, for small-scale farming to make a wholesale return, and for more-than-profit food distribution to rise, powered by a wave of digital tools for a better food system.

Local & Friendly Food Champion Showcase: The 30 Project

We’re extremely pleased to announce the fifth in a stream of partnerships with local & friendly food champions!

The 30 Project is a think + do tank for changing the food systemWe are big fans of the work the 30 Project have done already, and inspired by their vision to ‘be a think + do tank for changing the food system‘.

The 30 Project addresses the food distribution problem - 1 billion people are hungry, 1 billion are overweightThey aim to tackle the food distribution problem – 1 billion obese, 1 billion starving.  Through initiatives such as the FEED Project and now ChangeDinner, the 30 Project aims to “bring together key organizations and activists working around the world on addressing hunger, obesity, and agriculture issues to talk about their visions for the food system and the next 30-years. Many of the best anti-hunger and anti-obesity organizations have been so focused on their important work that they have not been able to work together on common challenges. The 30 Project is gathering the best people together to work towards creating a truly healthy and sustainable global food system.”

If you haven’t already seen Ellen Gustafson, the founder of 30 Project, speaking at TEDxEAST – here’s her 10 minutes of passion & purpose:

You can support 30 Project directly here, Follow @the30Project on Twitter, or dive into some of the Change Dinner videos like this one:

#ChangeDinner today!

The Change Dinner campaign from 30 ProjectThe back story: in the early stages here at Bucky Box we decided to forego any marketing budget, and instead work with the best of the local & friendly food champions around the world and give our customers the chance to nominate where these funds will go. We see that these are the individuals & organisations who are making significant headway in catalysing, educating & advocating for a fair, friendly, local food system. We support their work to the hilt.

 

Social Innovation High-5’s

The Sustainable Business Network Awards are going down right now in Auckland, and we’re sad we couldn’t be there.

We’re sad not to be there, not just because we were included in the Finalists for the Social Innovation category, but because the rest of the finalists were our good friends from around the country too!

In fact, we share an office with the winners (and a couple of us are trustees..).  So, please lift a glass to the ever-awesome 350 Aotearoa – Social Innovation Champions for 2011! Yeow!!

Keep up with the rest of the awards through Twitter at #NZSBNAwards

Honourable mention to the mighty Kaibosh – fantastic Food Rescuers of Wellington.

High-5’s to Guy & Laura at Inspiring Stories and Emily at Urban Pantry too!

#OccupyFood

It’s been a while since @OccupyWallSt kicked off, and turned things upside down around the world.

Several things about Occupy have stuck with me as we learn more about the ideals, motivations and purpose of the movement, and what it is evolving into.

I never saw that Occupy was about anti-capitalism or radical views. I saw Occupy was about Conversation. I see the movements around the world modelling a society they want to live in, about showing that consensus is possible, and that ‘inequality anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere’.

When I look at Occupy through the lens of our Food systems, I see several of the same things happening, and indeed there has been a lot of involvement from various food system educators & advocates in the discussions.

We see a crumbling system which is failing us – industrialised food is causing harm and inequality around the world to people and planet.  We see the need for a platform of robust discussion about the status quo, and conversation about what is possible.  We see that technology has changed so much, that a localised, distributed food system is possible. We see that economics are controlling a system which is much more complex than money alone.

We’re looking to see how this brighter future can be realised, and we’re seeing the Local Food Movement has already started, and is growing every day.  We see that a widescale return to organic farming is already happening (at exponential growth of 20% per year!).

We see that now is the time to take back our food system.

Not only does Bucky Box stand for a Food System which is friendly to People & Planet, but we also consider Poverty & Hunger part of our mandate. We see farmers getting a fair deal as part of our mandate.  We see food distributor accountability as part of our mandate. We see transparency for Consumer decision making as part of our mandate.

Join us in a better food system, starting today.

Bucky Box catalyses local food from Bucky Box on Vimeo.

Here’s some further takes on Occupying Food:

What is your take on the growing food movement, and how it relates to what is going on with Occupy?

What kind of a food system would you like to see in the future?

What platforms already exist to discuss how big food is impacting our people & planet?