BSC2009 – Food Security – Herb Barbolet

Herb, who I first heard at the Future of Foods for the Kootenays Conference in Nelson in the Fall of 2007 ditched the PowerPoint and went with an interactive format “presentation” to a standing room only crowd. Coming from the states just as the Agricultural Land Reserve legislation was coming into effect, (mid 70’s).  The mid 70’s were a hothouse of innovation in habitat, patterns of settlement, energy conservation, then the eighties came along and all this work dropped right off. Herb was involved in co-operative housing and intentional communities around farmland in the lower mainland, as well as running a ten acre farm just out of Vancouver that was producing $100,000 an acre high value produce – from this grew Farm Folk – City Folk, which herb was involved with until about ten years ago.

Herb asks if anyone is feeling depressed after Claire’s previous presentation, when only a few put up their hands, he says, “good, because it is much worse than all of that”. Local food is at an absolute critical state – because of the industrialized state of the food system.

  • It is not organic vs conventional – for the history of the world it has only been organic
  • How dare Monsanto arrogantly assume that we need to be saved by their technology and GMO crops
  • Small farmers have to be registered and jump through so many hoops yet the “big” companies are above the law – they create the law.
  • Economic growth is seen as more important than food
    • California was the “breadbasket” only because of free water and cheap oil
    • Economic system is all backwards – not resilient, not working.
    • Based on corporate greed and false money
  • Peak Everything and Climate Chaos
  • We’ve got it all wrong, we’ll keep on driving, we’ll spend billions on health care, but won’t demand fresh, un-industrialized food.
    • Poor food goes to poor people – (food banks receiving donations from large business).
  • Citizens turned into Consumers – the issue is democracy.
  • We need to fight back,  fighting against Monsanto and Walmart, but ignoring than at the same time setting up our own food system.
    • Local economies based on local food systems.
  • It’s not the economy stupid – it’s community.
  • Need to educate about real economics, community and civil rights.
    • A movement needs people behind it, when it has people then the politicians will move to the movement.
  • Universal food rights – Cuba as an example
  • Herb always provides a light hearted look at the serious issues of food security and sustainable agriculture.

    Published by Mike Thomas

    Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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