Thursday, February 20, 2014


Farmageddon; the True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymbery with Isabel Oakeshott

This book also rubbishes the popular idea that the earth is simply not large enough to feed everyone without intensive farming, pointing out the vast inefficiencies it involves in terms of natural resources such as land, water, oil and grain. The world currently produces enough food for 11 billion people. [Also should be mentioned is that the myth of over-population. Women are having on average just 2.2 babies – even in Bangladesh. They used to have six because they expected four to die, but they now know that medical advances –four out of five children on the planet are injected against measles – mean their babies should survive. So they settle for two because they only want a number they can afford and educate. Once the birth rate is stable, the overall population rate will also eventually stabilise and stop growing as predicted, within the lifespan of today’s children.]

Two-thirds of the world’s 70 billion farm animals are factory farmed. Lymbery observes, most of us still cling to a romantic dream of local farms, “where chickens scratch around in the yard, a few pigs snooze and snort in muddy pens and contented cows chew the cud”. As this book shows, it’s high time we woke up.

 Lymbery and Oakeshott argue that we cannot afford not to change and that industrial farming is yet another luxury that the world will eventually have to give up. A return to more sustainable, mixed pasture-based systems would seem to be part of the solution. Lymbery’s conclusion is not that we should all go vegetarian, or that only small, traditional farms hold the key to sustainable food production.  Instead, the book is arguing that commercial success and bad practice are not inevitable bedfellows. Farmageddon asks “whether, in farming, big has to mean bad” and, in a world where agriculture has become just another industry, questions whether factory farms are really the most efficient way to feed the world.  Which unfortunately reveals the short-comings of the authors’ knowledge of capitalism or he would know that the primary purpose of farming is to make profits, not to provide food.

Adapted from here

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