August 21, 2009

"TIME" for Change in the Food System

TIME magazine food coverTIME Magazine's current cover story wants you to know that our fossil-fueled, chemically intensive industrial food system is destined to fail. Granted, the second part of that sentence isn't news to Grist readers. But the first part of that sentence is news. Personally, I wouldn't have expected to read the following positively Philpottian (if not Pollan-esque) prose in a national newsweekly cover story:

With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil -- which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills -- our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy -- demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 -- but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs -- and bland taste. Sustainable food has an elitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants -- and as every farmer knows, if you don't take care of your land, it can't take care of you.

TIME Magazine talking about exhausted soil? Whooda thunkit? The importance of Bryan Walsh's piece, of course, isn't in the particulars of its insights or its prescriptions. The importance (aside from its very existence as a cover story) is in its declarative nature...

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