Re: [BALTOmorrow] Re: Housing Market / urban ag

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Aug 24, 2010, 10:02:56 AM8/24/10

This subject of urban agriculture might not be the correct topic for a transit-centered listserv. I'll just throw out a few more observations and be done. I was listening to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now today. She interviewed David Kirby, author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poutlry Farms on Humans and the Environment. He describes a nightmare that is taking place in the ag industry due to factory farming.


Another person interviewed on the same show spoke about how Goldman Sachs, sovereign wealth funds, and others were seeking new investments to replace housing, which has gone soft. They are turning in large numbers to investing in land and agriculture in places like Africa.


The problem is, the 1/6 of the world that is starving are mostly poor farmers. Instead of bolstering their livelihood, this push to remake agriculture in 3rd world countries is worsening not helping the plight of the poorest people on earth who only know how to farm. They are being displaced by industrial farming methods modeled after the US, which has been failing badly in many respects. The recall of a half a billion eggs is just one example of the things that go wrong with industrial farming. Kirby has 100s of other stories about the downside.


I really don't know anything about urban agriculture. I only know it sounds like a good way to ween people off government handouts and get them involved in productive work. People who have not worked in agriculture or gardening are of course absolutely cluess as to its power to transform and engage people at a deep level. 


I for one would rather see any able-bodied person collecting a government check get out and toil for their money. Imagine that, people toiling in the sun for the fruits of their labor! It's not the complete answer but I like the thought of it.


I can see how industrial farming interests would fight local agriculture tooth and nail.




----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Chambers" <>
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 9:19:32 AM
Subject: Re: [BALTOmorrow] Re: Housing Market


I'm glad you revived this discussion because its really at the heart of so many of our problems here. I also agree that agriculture on a large (or even moderate scale) is unlikely to work in Baltimore. But I am curious to see where Detroit goes with the idea. If we could get people in low income areas to eat some locally grown produce, that would not be a bad thing. But seeing farming as a solution for Baltimore's ills seems wrong headed. As to what sort of economy Baltimore should have, I would suggest we build on what is working right now - and that's the energy and investment being generated by our hospitals and universities. The days of Baltimoreans making steel or unloading cargo ships in large numbers is probably over (not sure that's a bad thing) but we may see more and more people developing pharmaceuticals and inventing new therapies for the sick and aged. We have the opportunity to build on the extraordinary investment that the Fed has put into Johns Hopkins (they get more federal funding for research than MIT)and the University of Maryland graduate campus. Baltimore is a growing mecca for medical research, bio-science, and all sorts of egghead stuff that I could never understand. FWIW, I think that's better than an industrial economy.

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