Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Re: Land and Sea "Turning a Green Leaf"

Re: Land and Sea "Turning a Green Leaf"

One of my old classmates Erin Niedermayer McMillin and her family were highlighted in a special Land and Sea Local Food CO2 footprint reduction experiment in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Well I finally got to watch the Turning a Green Leaf Episode and here are my comments and suggestions.

Last year I was asked to participate in an APEC Food Security Research Proposal focusing on Korea. The proposal was rejected but I did a lot of research globally on the topic last winter holiday.

As you may not know many countries like Korea import as much as 70% of their foodstuffs from abroad primarily from the US and increasingly from China. These containerized shipments do not only consume CO2 through their cargo movement. Fertilizers, pesticides, packing materials, insurance costs added damages and delays are all probably unaccounted for in a simple miles/distance to market approach.While local or country of origin produce is clearly marked here in supermarkets the introduction and rapid expansion of supermarkets in developing nations like Brazil, Russia, India, China or regions of Asia and South America have incredibly expanded in the last decade from city centres to suburban areas through similar patterns and Walmartization tactics.

As in early market entry studies reveal large numbers of small farmers are contracted to supply produce at varying levels of quality control and then over time fewer and fewer farmers are selected for larger and larger contracts reducing competitive pricing and unit costs to supermarkets themselves. A good example of this has been the banana wars provisions for small organic banana growers on Caribbean islands representing a minute market share in Europe which large companies like Chiquita in the US have been trying to force out of business.

Here in Korea traditional markets remain but local farmers are an aging and under-developed industry with few organic producers and a large proportion of non-compliance measures on chemical concentrations and pesticide usage recommendations. There are few traceability measures other than country of origin. As supermarkets are introduced traditional food consumption patterns have changed rapidly around the world.

I was glad to see your efforts to purchase locally. If for example Doha Round WTO provisions reduce government subsidies and tarriffs on farm produce will any of us be able to afford what we eat?


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