Friday, July 13, 2012

Capitalism Ended Famine

Above is a short video interview done by Reason magazine with 'The Locavore's Dilemma' by Pierre Desrochers.  It's a pretty good short video that I took three points away from.

1) According to the author he grew up on a farm and farming was a job.  Tough and dirty. Not this almost spiritual connection that you see with some in America today.

2) That it was the implementation of the beginnings of the global supply chain network, railroads and steam shipping, that ended famine.  Food from prosperous regions like the great plains or California could be shipped to areas were food was not as easy to come by, such as Alaska or the deserts in the southwest.

3) That the local food movement is incredibly naive.  When you see that the local food movement started in Berkley, a very wealthy region when it comes to agriculture, you can see why it became so popular.  It wasn't difficult to get all the food one needed in Berkley, and since it was local, they got the added benefit of feeling good about sticking it to the 'corporate machine'. 

Well, as one can readily assess, it is a lot harder to go local when one lives in a desert, or even in an island that cannot support its population with what agriculture is available, such as Hawaii or Japan.  Places like Hawaii, Saudi Arabia, Japan, or Alaska are able to get the food they need because they exchange services or materials that others desire in exchange.  That's capitalism right there, you got something I want and you got something I want, let's trade.  It's the reason why humanity has progressed so far in 200 years, and the reason why prior to the articulation by Adam Smith, of principals that had been sussed out over from the 17th century on, that the average human being lived lives hardly distinguishable from their ancient counterparts. Big 'agri', as it is often derisively called, is the reason why we Americans have the luxury of dying from diseases that result in us being fat from lack of self control and not starving to death like the poor souls in Africa.

Now, its not that I dislike the local food movement, I don't. (There is an ice creams shop that I frequent that makes it a point to get ingredients locally) If individuals want to buy food that is locally grown, thus supporting local farmers, and environmentally friendly then more power to them. You really can't find fault with someone purchasing those goods, whether it be for reasons of taste or simple progressive sentiment, and when they exercise their prerogatives according to the principals of the free market I have no beef with it whatsoever.  I myself prefer 'organic'  meat, eggs, and milk for the taste. It's when groups of individuals try to force their viewpoint, through taxes, government funded incentives, or out right bans, that I take umbrage.

It also makes sense that this sort of food movement, and its most militant adherents I might add, sprout up in bastions of progressivism like Berkely. Berkely has the good fortune of being in one of the most fertile regions of the world (in addition to being in one of the most politically benign and wealthy countries in the world) so there is little cost to going local.  People aren't going to starve, and given the plethora of crops that are grown in California, they will still be able to get their ahi-aoili sushi or what not. In effect, many of the adherents to local foodism, and there are many that I know, while doing so for laudable reasons, are shielded from the worst possible side effects due to having the good fortune of residing in a nation that is often called 'the worlds breadbasket'.

So the next time someone complains about talks about how corporations are pumping us full of chemicals or how inumanely they treak livestock (things which I don't like by the way) take care to mention that if it wasn't for these industries tens of millions, if not hundreds, would starve to death. And then mention how hydroponics and aeroponics, which are industrial methods of producing food by the way, are the real future of feeding humanity

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.