Archive for Midwest

H5N2 Much

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2015 by Rob Wallace

John Gaps III AP Rose Acre Farms, IowaA week from Thursday, June 11, I’ll be talking about the H5N2 bird flu outbreak here in the Midwest at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. Find out the details here. All are welcome.

Midwest bird flu: A diseconomy of industrial poultry

Industrial turkey and chicken in Minnesota, and other states Midwest and South, have been hit by a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza A (H5N2). Millions of birds have been killed by the virus or culled in an effort to control the outbreak.

In its efforts to protect a $265.6-billion-a-year industry, the poultry sector has laid blame upon farm workers and wild waterfowl. In actuality, H5N2 demonstrates poultry production is defined by inherent diseconomies of scale it survives solely by externalizing the resulting damage to consumers, workers, governments and the environment. In a market economy, such costs, moved back onto company margins, would end the industry as we know it.

We will review the mechanisms by which poultry’s bioeconomics is thought sooner than later to select a deadly disease with the potential for killing millions of people worldwide. We will also address what an alternate food landscape might look like.

You can find a video of the half-hour talk here.

I Do Like Green Eggs and Ham

Posted in Sustainable farming with tags , , , , on October 3, 2009 by Rob Wallace

Much of what we’ve addressed on this blog has focused on the epidemiological dangers of industrial farming. But what of the alternatives? Can we farm in another way? Is another world possible?

It’s only since I’ve moved to the Midwest that I’ve learned that not only is that world possible, it’s growing right out from underneath the dried and dead soil laid atop agribusiness’s stronghold. A mob of thousands of new organic farmers have taken up pitchforks and torches against Frankenfood. Farmers’ markets are popping up all over. Food co-ops are blooming in even some of the smallest towns across the Upper Midwest.

Many of my brethren on the coasts–who I’ve now taken to calling ‘the flyovers’–are largely unawares of a new agricultural uprising that could strike at the very heart of the agribusiness model now dominating global production. For reasons we will explore in posts to follow there is no guarantee that the revolt will succeed. Many serious obstacles remain. But by much blood and sweat, acre by acre, store by store, kitchen by kitchen, real food and home cooking are making a comeback.

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