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SUSTAINABILITY The price of food

Outdoor Living
The price of food

Food Matters
Chris Brown

I dislike money with a passion. Admittedly I’m pretty much alone in this view, but my belief is that money is a hurtful substance, responsible for much of what’s wrong with the way we exist.
Money drives the world unsustainably forwards and is used to control us; it has been elevated in importance to a point that nothing else seems to matter; and just about everybody panders to it.
As a system, money has several failings, and wise we would be to think of a few different ways to manage without it – after all, if it collapses, how will we trade? What are we making to exchange for goods that we’ve got used to relying on?
Perhaps money’s biggest failing is that it can be hoarded in huge amounts. This brings with it a way of creating great imbalance. Some have lots more money than they should have, or in fact need, whilst literally billions worldwide are desperately short of cash to obtain life’s essentials.
Does it seem right that people toil long and hard in the unpleasant conditions of the paddy fields and other soils, producing rice, cocoa, prawns, vegetables, fruits… (the list is as always long), to return home in the evening time to shacks and squalor, lucky to have a few crumbs to feed to their families, whilst others lavish on lobsters and whiskey, paid for, and served up on a plate, by money and money markets alone? This hardly seems fair and will of course end in tears.
The situation in Libya in Northern Africa demonstrates the imbalance of money very well, where Gaddafi, the man in charge, is reputed to have a fortune valued in money terms at €130 billion, whilst most Africans work, if they can get it, for a shilling a day!
This wealth has been acquired by the Libyan Authorities because they, and similar regimes, have access to oil fields, and those countries that gave him this fortune have been happy enough to have dealings with him, allowing his wealth to buy war planes and weapons.

What price soil damage
As I look at the uprisings gathering pace in Africa on television in the year 2011, behind the man holding the rifle firing aimless shots into the air or manoeuvring some tank or setting fire to something, in the picture I see the damage that’s behind them; the hurt caused to the soil and the tree cover.
The land has become hostile and damaged, not the sort of place that’s able to grow much food. Pockmarked with shell craters, these beautiful regions, once the bread basket to much of the developed world, now lie in ruins: nothing more than dangerous deserts covered with land mines and other debris of conflict.
Had the many despot leaders in this great nation been paid in water pumps, windmills and solar panels for its oil, diamonds, food and other riches, instead of cash, a background of fertile soil might well of stood a chance; and everyone would been have better off.
Those that sail their yachts through warm seas, the money speculators who organise the price of food from hotel rooms in European cities, should not be trusted with setting the price of food. They know little about its real value, and if they are capable of overseeing apples and lambs travelling from South America to be sold in the shops of Ireland without seeing that these practices will never be sustainable, we should be looking for alternatives.
The best safeguard against food prices is to reach for a spade and turn some fertile Mayo soil over, ready to grow something for yourself.

Next time Maximum wage

Chris Brown is a food producer in Louisburgh. He has a particular interest in food miles and buying local.