Nothing ethical in starving the poor
This article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald 27 January 2012
There is a growing gap between farmers and consumers. It was a recurring theme in a dozen meetings I had with hundreds of agricultural leaders in Australia recently and mirrors what is happening in the US.
Consumers such as Voiceless founder Brian Sherman have expressed their concerns about how food is produced, in newspapers such as this one. The author and Voiceless patron J.M. Coetzee has even called for radical changes to the food system. But they risk dangerous unintended consequences. In fact, placing restrictions on the food system that inhibit farmers' ability to produce more food with fewer resources will limit the availability of healthy, affordable food choices for all of us. Unfortunately the greatest impact will be on those who can least afford it.
In Australia and the US, the food debate often pits city dwellers against rural neighbours. Today's consumers are generationally and geographically removed from agriculture and any time there is a gap between performance and expectations there is the potential for misunderstanding and conflict. But it's time to reject this brand of culinary colonialism, which does little more than inflame and alienate consumers with a legitimate interest in farming and food.