Friday, January 25, 2008

In the Midst of Party Politics- I bring you this Food Politics Interlude

(poster from the Devon County Council)

Last Oahu Dairy Closes...

Sadly, even with all the rise in discussion people are still not choosing local-sustainable foods and growing practices nearly often enough. This story today demonstrates the point. I take particular interest in Hawaii, hoping to move there in the near-ish future. And with the steady closing of dozens of dairys-- Oahu and most of the island will now import ALL milk and dairy products from thousands of miles away in the USA as local farmers take another hit.
HONOLULU – The last Oahu dairy is closing down, leaving the island without any local milk or other dairy products. With the demise of Pacific Dairy in Waianae Valley, the only remaining island dairies are two on the Big Island. This leaves only imported dairy products for Oahu residents – most of it from the mainland.
Read the full AP story here.

I don't know the entire and specific background of this but from following similar stories in across the USA, I can tell you that I am certain that the failure was on all sides.

Lack of local support for local farmers, rising costs, and uninterested or uneducated consumers choosing to buy big-label, cheaper milk from huge corporations on the mainland are all likely to have played a part in this tale. Now with the closing of the last dairy on the most populated Island in Hawaii, everyone loses.

Farm and food politics matter. We all know how we feel about the corporate ownership of the media. How has that worked out for us?!

When we feel distant from our food, and care little for small farmers, small food producers, and small companies making things by hand, we are heading down the same path as we have with the media. Tyson, General Mills and a small handful of increasingly powerful companies with deep-pocketed lobbyists in DC, care little for the health and environmental impact that they have in America. These entrenched corporate interests are being blessed by Bush and Co. with increasingly lax regulations and standards and are making and selling almost all of our food.

The energy and environmental cost alone (which can be seen in this story as a micro example of this issue) is relevant and devastating. 100 dollar barrels of oil-- fueling the dairy being shipped from California or further-- to consumers in Hawaii? I am sure that the milk will double in price. So that will leave out any poor families from purchasing affordable dairy products. Energy cost + environmental cost + disparity of wealth and access = one hell of a f*(@ked up food chain!

It is long overdue, that we as a nation look at how all of this in inter-related. We need to understand and care about how our choices help fuel the process. How the farm bill and other food related legislation effects us all, now and long into the future.

Some resources for your consideration;
Food Politics and Marion Nestle's Blog
Future Food
King Corn
The Omnivore's Dilemma
Animal Vegetable Miracle
(add yours in the thread)

And I, for one, will be writing letters to my friends on the Big Island, where there remain the last two dairys in the state of Hawaii, letting them know how important it is to buy local. I feel a West Hawaii Today letter to the editor in my near future. And thanks in advance for your time and thoughts for this brief food-politics interlude.

according the Honolulu Star Bulletin
Hawaii consumers pay the nation's highest prices -- by far. (snip) At Oahu's major supermarket chains -- Foodland, Safeway, Times, Star, Daiei -- (milk) was $5.59 to $6.19 a gallon. Gee, what do you think will happen now that there is no local alternative on Oahu?