food

Palestinian cook and writer Laila El-Haddad recently completed a successful Australian tour. Weaving stories of Palestinian life through her demonstrations of a cuisine that is unfamiliar to many Australians, Laila showed curious foodies how food, culture, resistance and occupation intersect and what it is like to live through such a heady mix.

Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic By Margaret Gray University of California Press, 2014 Over the past few decades there has been a rapid growth of interest in buying food that does not come from large-scale industrial farms. Concerns exist over their use of large amounts of commercial fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, and inhumane treatment of farm animals.

During the final session of El Salvador's outgoing parliament on April 29, right-wing parties blocked a vote to ratify a constitutional reform that would have enshrined water and food as human rights. In doing so, the bloc of Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), National Conciliation (PCN), and Christian Democrat (PDC) parties demonstrated their support for elite business interests over the health and wellbeing of the Salvadoran people.

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional free-trade agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011, 11 countries accounted for 30% of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

This is an edited version of the Socialist Alliance’s agriculture policy adopted in May. The full version can be read at socialist-alliance.org. *** There are approximately 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99% of which are family owned and operated, and as of 2010-11 they employ only 307,000 people to manage 417.3 million hectares of land, including the 46.3% of Australia that is marginal land. Any sustainable and justice-oriented agricultural practice needs to place Aboriginal self-determination, empowerment and participation as its framework.

The Australian government has bowed to public pressure and banned the supertrawler from operating in Australian waters for two years. During this time more scientific research will be completed into the effects the supertrawler would have on local fish stocks. The supertrawler, known as the Margiris before changing its name to the Abel Tasman, is the world's second-largest trawler and would have been the largest ship ever to fish in Australian waters. The 142-metre-long ship had a quota of 18,000 tonnes, which it would have caught with its 300-metre-long net.
The article below first appeared at The Conversation on September 11. Claire Parfitt is a research student at the University of Sydney. She is affiliated with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance and is a coordinator of the People's Food Plan project. ***
For the 2.5 million people living and working in Sydney’s western suburbs, the future looks very grim unless serious action on climate change begins immediately. A Climate Commission report released last month,  The Critical Decade, reveals that rising temperatures in western Sydney will impact adversely on many aspects of residents’ lives, from the water supply to mental health and crime levels.
“About 15 per cent of US households — 17.4 million families — lacked enough money to feed themselves at some point last year, a US Department of Agriculture report says. “The study also found that 5.6 million of these households — with as many as 1 million children — had continuing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly. “The number of these ‘food insecure’ homes … was more than triple the one in 2006, before the recession brought double-digit unemployment.
Venezuela’s representative in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Alfredo Missair, spoke on October 18 about Venezuela’s achievements in the field. He said that 14 million citizens (about half of the population) now have access to food at fair prices. On the TV show Desperto Venezuela, broadcast by VTV, Missair stressed the country is on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of the population that is undernourished.
A huge transformation of agriculture is taking place in Venezuela, a transformation that has lessons for every other country in the world. I had the opportunity in July to visit the country and see the changes that are taking place first hand. Venezuela’s Law of the Land and Agrarian Development, the Law of Food Sovereignty and Security, and the Law of Integrated Agricultural Health set out the agenda.
“The Iowa egg producer that federal officials say is at the center of a salmonella outbreak and recalls of more than a half-billion eggs has repeatedly paid fines and settled complaints over health and safety violations and allegations ranging from maintaining a ‘sexually hostile’ work environment to abusing the hens that lay the eggs. “In the past 20 years, according to the public record, the DeCoster family operation, one of the 10 largest egg producers in the country, has withstood a string of reprimands, penalties and complaints about its performance in several states …
Six US banks control 60% of GDP “They are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. They have assets equivalent to 60 percent of our gross national product. “And to put this in perspective, in the mid-1990s, these six banks or their predecessors, since there have been a lot of mergers, had less than 20 percent. Their assets were less than 20 percent of the gross national product.”
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