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Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan. 11 - Is this the end of food as we know it?‏

Dear Friends,

Be Well.


Is this the end of food as we know it?

A new film paints an apocalyptic picture of a world reduced to tinned goods. But could it ever happen here, asks Bee Wilson

By Bee Wilson
Published: 7:00AM GMT 10 Jan 2010
Canned food Photo: REX

In Cormac McCarthy's The Road, (the film of which is out this weekend), the only food left is in cans. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a father and son scavenge for tinned goods. "Chili, corn, stew, soup, spaghetti sauce. The richness of a vanished world."

Is this a vision of our not-too-distant future? Will we soon be stockpiling canned mandarin segments and clawing one another's eyes out for the last tin of powdered milk in Tesco? It's not a nice thought, but it's one that food campaigners have been begging us to face up to for some time now. In this uncertain world, we can no longer take our food supply for granted. For years, academics such as Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, gave warning that we were "sleepwalking" into a future where our food security was likely to be seriously undermined, whether by natural disasters, rising fuel costs, climate change or the massive pressures placed on the global food system by a rising population. We shrugged it off, setting off in our cars for another wasteful trolley of ready-meals.

In 2008, American pundit Paul Roberts published The End of Food. Roberts argued that the "bullet" attacking the world's food system could come from any number of sources: avian flu, "a sharp spike in the price of oil, a series of extreme weather conditions, an outbreak of some new plant disease". Any one of these, and we'll be scrabbling in the canned goods aisles. More than one at once, and there might be no canned good aisles left to scrabble in. In April 2008, when spiralling food prices led to riots around the globe, people in Haiti were reduced to eating mud cakes.

At least that level of food anxiety could never happen in Britain. Or could it? For years, the Government told us everything was fine. This was a land of plenty. Only four years ago, Gordon Brown's Treasury assured us that food security in Britain was not an issue because we were a rich country, and could buy food from wherever we chose, as if the world were our personal larder. Now, finally, as The Sunday Telegraph reported last week, the Government has woken up to the problem. A new report launched on Tuesday entitled Food 2030 gives a warning that Britain can no longer afford to be complacent. "We need to think differently about food," said Gordon Brown in his foreword to the report, produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Setting out a new food strategy for the next two decades, the report says that the industry needs to prepare for "sudden shocks" such as natural disasters or price spikes. Britain will need to produce more food, we are told, but will have to do so sustainably, "without damaging the air, soil, water and marine resources, biodiversity and climate that we all depend on".

Here was a long overdue acknowledgment that farming is actually pretty essential. Unlike Gordon Brown, food is something we can't do without. Labour has hardly been the countryside's best friend. But at last, the "2030" report tells us the obvious truth that "the natural environment and the economy are intrinsically linked". The food and farming sector employs 3.6 million people. It is in everyone's interests to see this sector thrive. Britain will never be 100 per cent self-sufficient: life would be miserable without the imported pleasures of coffee, tea or spice. But the more food we can produce locally, the more secure our food supply will be in the event of sudden blips in the supply chain. UK farming, states the Defra report, "should produce as much food as possible, as long as it is responsive to demand".
Well said! Except that very little in the report suggests that this dying Labour government is going to take any serious steps to make the necessary renaissance in British farming come about. The Government wants us all to eat a "healthy and sustainable diet". Yet instead of any real reform, we are directed to "an enhanced eat-well website". There is a pointed lack of any mention of organic food. The report blethers about such things as the "milk roadmap" and the "fruit and vegetable task force". But there is no serious new injection of either money or laws to aid farmers. Sustain, a lobbying alliance for better food and farming, has already attacked the report as "soft", complaining that it constitutes a "series of minor tweaks to our fundamentally unsustainable food system".

By raising the idea of improving self-sufficiency, the "2030" report only brings home the extent to which we have moved in the opposite direction in recent years. The problem of food security goes far beyond this country, but even by the standards of our European neighbours, Britain performs badly.

Look at fruit. In 1963, we grew around 30 per cent of our own fruit; now it is closer to 5 per cent. Compare this with France, which in 1963 grew enough fruit to feed 90 per cent of the population and still produces enough to feed 80 per cent; or Italy which produced around 110 per cent of its fruit needs in 1963 and still does today. We may not have Italy's sun-kissed orange groves, but we could still do better with the land we have. Over the past 13 years, our self-sufficiency in food overall has plummeted from 75 per cent to 60 per cent.
Take dairy. Our milk and cream are among the best in the world. Give a spoonful of British double cream to a Frenchman and he will swoon. Yet our dairy farmers are in a quandary, unable to sell their delicious product for more than it costs them to produce it. A litre of milk costs the consumer 70-80p, of which the farmer gets only 21-28p, the same as it costs to produce. No wonder countless dairy farmers leave the industry.

There is a similar predicament in the honey industry. There is huge demand for British honey, boosted partly by awareness of the worrying collapse in honeybee colonies. Yet in many shops, all native honey is gone by halfway through the year. Of the 400g of honey per person we consume every year, only 80g is British. The reason? We currently have a mere 300 professional beekeepers in this country, many of them nearing retirement age. It will only get worse unless something is done. When I attended a forum on the future of honeybees at No 10 Downing Street last September, many well-intentioned words were spoken about saving British bees and honey. Yet when I suggested to a Government advisor that they might think of subsidising honey farmers, he laughed nervously.
It is all too easy to attack the "2030" report for its typical Brownian mix of hypocrisy and impotence. I wonder, though, how many of us really have the stomach for root-and-branch reforms of our farming system. The Conservatives have said that they want action on sustainable food "with a supermarket ombudsman and legislation to enforce honest labelling if the retailers won't act". But David Cameron has stopped short of spelling out what the "sustainable farming" he favours might really entail.

Biologist Colin Tudge, organiser of the Campaign for Real Farming, says that our politicians are "dangerously deluded" about farming. "Feeding people is easy," says Tudge, but only if our farmers switch to a "maximum variety" system of agriculture which puts plants first and meat second. This would involve a complete redesign of agriculture.

The odds are, we won't get the crisis measures we need for our food system until the crisis has already hit. So let's hope that The Road is just a scary story, not a prophecy.

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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