Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, names that every kid knew. If solving how to get astronauts into space was not enough NASA had to feed them too. On their website one can find information about the nutritional aspects and eating in a weightless environment. But we do not need to look to outer space to hear that “the future is ready”. This is not a quote from Marshall McLuhan but the advert line for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide product.
In The Future of Food Deborah Koons Garcia takes a look how gene modified products, genetically engineered food are affecting the change that the agricultural industries are going through. Today a satellite can be used to determine the best place for planting and pretty much like you pimp a car or do stylistic makeover farming too is headed for some major tuning. Not just a tomato but a super tomato. Farming is not so much anymore about growing as it is about selling when people in cities consider a supermarket the place where food comes from. The productivity of America’s farms, the sheer success of them has also created problems with excess crops and what to do with them.
Therefore it should be no news to any one that the US has often been feeding the world. In 1954 Congress created the Food for Peace program and U.S farm goods were started to be exported to countries in need and then in 1972 Soviet Union faced with the reality of one the famous “five year plans” not actually going according to plan purchased 30 million tons of American grain. Today among others North Korea receives US food aid. The crops are therefore big but it does not anymore mean that the nutritional value of what we after processing eat would always be great as well. Also the methods used in achieving them are far from the ways we still see belonging to the farmer’s daily job.
Watching The Future of Food one could easily get scared and feel that there is another plan to take over the world in the style of “fluoridation of water”, which some argued was a communist conspiracy.
In any case whatever changes we may face in the future, it is always good to look back and remember what those few exceptional men, some of them also farmers, who we now know as the founding fathers had to say: Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bands" (Thomas Jefferson) and "Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man." (George Washington).
But today the battle might not be fought just in our stomachs and on the fields. It will be done by lawyers in courtrooms as copyright is the key. Add to this the consumer and it is no wonder that many more new farmer’s markets are born in America. Just like there used to be. In 1862 the Homestead Act, signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, gave land for people and that meant also freedom. Free farmers were a threat to slavery. Wait and see the power of the free consumer.