The Modernization of Chains of Food Production

After not posting on here for over a year, I am back! This is an older post that I just finished up, but within the next couple weeks I hope to post something new related to my amazing experience studying abroad in Ecuador. For now, please enjoy the following thoughts on different chains of food production/processing/distribution:

The ways food gets to us today are extremely different from the ways it did 100 years ago. We all have a general idea that the way food is grown and distributed has modernized in many ways; many farmers now manage pests and soil health with complex chemical products derived from bacteria or petroleum or other substances, and apply these products with intricate machinery, etc. I often tend to think of how on-farm practices have changed rather than considering the actual structural changes in the chain of producers and processors that bring food to our plate. This latter topic often goes unconsidered. I think it is interesting and insightful to examine the modern food system with a perspective focused on the actual structure of the food chain (i.e. the relationships between different players in the food chain). This perspective also helps to understand the origin of the modern local food movement.

Knowing this, I decided to write a paper for my geography class on the modernization of the food chain (rather than of on-farm practices) and the development of alternative food chains (i.e. the food chains which produce “local” food). As it was a geography class and not an environmental studies class, I chose to focus on the effects these different food chains have on rural communities rather than the environment. While this is a different subject matter and approach than my usual one, I still think it is an important and fascinating topic. And much of the paper examines more general and widely applicable trends in agriculture which I think are important to be aware of as a consumer.

The paper begins with an extremely simplified history of the modernization of the food chain and producers’ and consumers’ reactions to this food chain which together helped create alternative food chains. I attempt to explain briefly the major cause of the current economic hardship faced by many farmers, which I feel is something often talked about but not understood on a deeper level. After that I get to the focus of the essay, the effects of all these things on rural communities. If any of this sounds interesting to you, keep reading! Toward the end, I try to provide a somewhat new perspective on the local food movement. If you are interested but not feeling up for reading all of it, I think the first five or six short paragraphs are a good general overview. I also added some pictures in an attempt to break up the text and make it more manageable. (Be prepared for formal academic writing, apologies for that. But the ideas are still pretty cool, I promise.) Here’s the essay:

Activists, young people, and scientists alike are increasingly interested in food and agriculture and studying its environmental and social impacts. However, much of this increased interest has been focused on either on-farm practices or a very simplified view of the entire food production-consumption chain. In an attempt to study the entire food chain more deeply and with a different perspective, I aim to investigate the changes in the structure and relationships of this food chain over time. More importantly, I make it my goal to identify the effects of these food chain changes on rural spaces, communities, and economies.

In my research I have found that the modernization of the food chain has caused farm consolidation and subsequent decreases in rural population. Additionally, this modernization can cause more specific and nuanced economic harm and political divisions among rural communities. Finally, the recent movement against the modernized food chain and towards alternative, relocalized food chains has had positive but complex economic effects on rural communities, increasing farmers’ incomes but also causing more nuanced disturbances in these communities.

In order to understand these wider effects of food chain modernization on rural areas, it is important to have a thorough idea of what this modernization entails. To briefly summarize this very complex process, the food supply chain has become more “industrial, capitalist, concentrated, and globally integrated” over the last hundred years, and especially since the post-World War II period of economic prosperity (Hinrichs, 2003: 34). This means that in addition to the industrialization of on-farm practices which is often spoken about, the chain from food production to consumption has spread out geographically and economically. The scale at which food is distributed has increased greatly from that of the household or locality to that of the region, nation, and globe.

Instead of a family growing, processing, and eating its own food, these processes have been “delink[ed]” so that the food chain from production to consumption now comprises many more “economic components”: separate industries devoted to producing farm inputs and services as well as those engaged in the processing, packaging, transporting, wholesaling, and retailing of farm products (Hinrichs, 2003: 34; Polopolus, 1982: 803). An example of this trend can be seen in a 1922 issue of the Pacific Rural Press newspaper, which reported on a new business developed to bring refrigeration to rail cars: “The Western Pacific Railroad is to have its own refrigerator car service in 1923. A separate company has been formed to handle this business known as the Western Refrigerator Line.” (Pacific Rural Press, 1922). Here we can begin to see the changes in food chain structure that is a large part of its modernization.

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Found in this 2011 FDA report, the above picture gives an idea of the different possible “global supply chains” that canned tuna may take to get to a consumer in the U.S. This representation seems to leave out the actual production of the tuna and the sourcing of various materials necessary for its farming or capture in the wild, which would no doubt add many more paths. We certainly do not think about this complex, global chain or the sheer distance traveled when we sit down to eat a can of tuna.

Within this modernized and “highly interdependent subsystem” of food production and distribution, the corporations which make up the non-production components of the food chain (i.e. everyone but the farmer) have slowly increased their economic influence and share of the food chain (Polopolus, 1983: 803). In 1982, these non-farm components (which hardly existed 150 years earlier) were roughly twice as economically important as the farm itself, based on metrics such as employment and value added (Polopolus, 1983: 803). This increasing economic influence of non-production food chain components has resulted in what Cochrane and others term the “cost-price squeeze” for farmers, in which rising input costs and falling food prices during the 1950s and 1960s put economic pressure on the farmer from both sides (Cochrane, 1979: 386).

Increasing output to attempt to survive this squeeze became more difficult toward the end of the 20th century because of market saturation and “growing opposition to the ‘dumping’ of surpluses on world markets” (Banks et al., 2003: 397). Putting all these factors together, the increasing economic influence of the non-production components of the food chain and subsequent cost-price squeeze caused by the modernization of the food chain have made it significantly more difficult for conventional farmers to sustain their livelihoods on farming alone. This economic harm to farmers can be seen quantitatively in the decreasing share of food prices which are actually paid to the farmer. For example, in 1973 farmers received 44 cents of each dollar spent on food, whereas in 2008, they received only 16 cents of each food dollar (Polopolus, 1982: 804; Canning, 2001: 6).

The increasing economic hardship faced by farmers and caused by modernization of the food chain has had varied direct and indirect effects on rural spaces over time. Most simply, this hardship leads to farm consolidation, in which farmers who can not survive the cost-price squeeze are forced to stop farming and move out, selling land to their neighbor who then increases in size and production. In Iowa for example, there were approximately 65,000 hog farmers in 1980 but only 10,000 in 2002, and the average number of hogs per farm increased from 200 to 1,400 over the same period of time (Babcock et al., 2003). See the graphs below for a visual illustration of these trends.

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As an example of consolidation within the food industry, the number of Iowa pig farms shows a very clear downward trend over the 25 years from 1982 to 2007.

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Here, an opposite trend is obvious. While the number of farms has decreased as in the above graph, the production level/size of each of those farms has greatly increased. Together these two trends illustrate very clearly the idea of farm consolidation as described in the above paragraphs: fewer and fewer farms are producing more and more. Both graphs are from this  2012 Food and Water Watch report on food monopolies.

This farm consolidation then leads to a decrease in the percentage of rural population employed in agriculture, and a subsequent decrease in the overall rural population. Though many individual rural counties have experienced out-migration over the past several decades, 2010 marked the first year of net decrease in rural population nationwide (USDA ERS, 2012). As many scholars propose, farm consolidation and the cost-price squeeze caused by the modernization of the food chain play a part in this trend. Along with these broader national and international trends of farm consolidation and decrease in rural population, it is possible to examine the more specific effects of food chain modernization on the smaller scale of a single state.

Another trend beginning in Iowa in the early 1980s helps to illustrate one specific on-the-ground effect of the modernization of the food chain on rural spaces and people. In Iowa, which has long relied economically on pork production, pigs are increasingly raised by contract growers. In these arrangements, contracting firms supply the farmer with young pigs and inputs such as feed, pay the farmer for fattening the pigs, and then market the full-grown pigs. As a result, the farmer has clearly lost autonomy in that he does not own his animals and his production methods are “carefully specified and monitored” (Page, 1996: 390). In these relationships, “nominally independent growers are brought under the control of agro-industrial firms that orchestrate relationships within the commodity chain” (Page, 1996: 390). Along with this loss of autonomy, contract production has harmed the “strong collective identity” of farmers by dividing members of farm organizations who differ in their opinion of contract farming (Page, 1996: 391).

This “agricultural restructuring” caused by contracting firms also occurs at other parts in the food chain, for example companies who produce animal feed, land grant universities, and extension services (Page, 1996: 392). Contracting firms attempt to bring in their own researchers, beginning to take over the role of researchers from universities. Additionally, contracting firms have integrated some feed companies to produce for them, but only companies who are structurally centralized enough to be compatible with the structure of these firms. This harms the business of more localized feed companies. In summary, this trend of contract farming (which is no doubt part of the larger trend of increasing economic influence of the non-production components of a modernizing food chain) stands to harm rural economies and divide rural communities politically.

In the last 50 years or so, alternatives to this conventional modernized food chain have begun to spread. Though on-farm practices between the producers involved in conventional and alternative food chains are highly different, here I focus on the fact that alternative food chains are structurally different, shorter, and more localized than the older conventional ones. They involve fewer economic components and are often stripped down to the simplest of chains which involve only manufacturers of farm inputs, a producer, and a consumer.

Before addressing the effects of new alternative food chains on rural spaces and communities, it is essential to link their development to the modernized food chain and identify their development as a direct reaction to the modernization of the food chain. This vital reactionary element of alternative food chains can be identified in the so-called local food movement, which is framed as the opposite and counter-movement to the globalization of food chains. Consumers’ demand for local food is thus an ideological rejection of the distance between producer and consumer inherent in a global food chain. As the authors of a 2003 study in the Journal of Rural Studies asserted, these shortened alternative food chains seek to “challenge the time space distantiation that characterizes the continuing development of the dominant agrifood system” (Allen et al., 2003: 73).

Additionally, globalized food chain components are often managed by offices that are far away from the region in which the company’s products are sold and therefore the management cannot respond to the specific consumer preferences of a given locality. The “disassociation between these traditional large firms and the local consumer base” has allowed space for more localized food companies and food chains to develop and meet the demands of local consumers (Blay-Palmer and Donald, 2006: 390). This inability of large companies to meet localized consumer demand, in addition to consumers’ increasing ideological resistance to the products of globalized food chains and preference for local foods, together point to the important role consumers have played in the formation of alternative food chains.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly when considering rural communities, the alternative food chain can also be described as a reaction against the conventional food chain on the part of the producer. Farmers who do not abandon their farms in the face of the economic hardship of the conventional food chain may convert to the production and distribution style of the alternative food chain. For example, in their 2000 study, Marsden et al. cite the establishment of the Llyn beef-producers co-operative in Wales in 1997 as an “example of the development of short food supply chains prompted by the severe crisis and cost-price squeeze on the British livestock industry” (Marsden et al., 2000: 435). Likewise, Banks et al. call the value added to farm products by the alternative food chain a “way out of the [cost-price] ‘squeeze’” (Banks et al., 2003: 397).

Farmers may even join the alternative food chain partially on ideological grounds; in the words of Missouri farmer Russ Pisciotta, “This is more like farms used to be. The old farmers fed people directly, rather than going through middle men [sic]” (Pisciotta in McEowen, 2006). Clearly, alternative food chains are a reaction by producers and consumers alike to the modernization and globalization of the conventional food chain. Thus, alternative food movements have often been characterized by their ability to “re-spatialize” food as a response to the conventional food chain, in which the supply of food has been globalized to such an extent that it no longer exists spatially in the minds of consumers (Marsden and Sonnino, 2000: 183).

After placing these food movements in context, it is possible to examine their effects on rural communities and spaces. Firstly, as in the example of Llyn beef cited above, the alternative food chain can provide an economic outlet for struggling farmers to improve their income. More common in the alternative food chain, however, are the producers which begin with alternative production methods and have founded farms in the last 50 years and often much more recently. In either of these cases, the alternative food chain adds value to farmers’ products by emphasizing higher quality and therefore fetching higher prices than products of the conventional food chain. Banks et al. estimate that in Germany, Italy, and France, alternative food chains (for example cooperatives of producers who market directly to the consumer) provide an increase of 7-10% in the net value of a product added by the farmer (Banks et al., 2003: 407).

The alternative food chain can also improve farmers’ incomes and fuel rural economies with tourism. For example, farms such as the Rhöngold organic dairy in Germany offer consumers “high-quality and region-specific products” as well as an image of pristine rural, natural landscape which together attract agritourism and rural tourism (Knickel and Renting, 2000: 515). This tourism contributes significantly to farmers’ incomes. Considering this tourism as well as the added product values discussed earlier, many scholars assert rather generally that alternative food chains can “revitalize rural areas” and have “economic benefits for the region as a whole” (Marsden and Sonnino, 2000: 181, 182).

While I believe this is true, the effects of alternative food chains on rural areas are no doubt more complex than this beginning designation might imply. For example, the emergence of alternative food chains can also result in competition between these chains and conventional ones (Marsden and Sonnino, 2000: 196). Though I surmise that the net benefits or costs of food chain competition are difficult to assess, this competition complicates the generalized economic benefits that alternative food chains bring to rural areas. Though I could not find specific on-the-ground examples of this food chain competition in the current scholarship, one form that results is competition on the retail level between corporate and local retailers (Marsden and Sonnino, 2000: 197). Also inherent in the different structure of alternative food chains is a different relationship between the producer and other components of the food chain. For example, the alternative food chain necessarily includes few or no distributors and therefore affects the business of regional food distributors, but in ways that are very hard to assess (Knickel and Renting, 2000: 516).

Thus, we can begin to see the complexity of the effects of the alternative food chain on rural development. Though it is widely agreed that this food chain is generally a positive force of revitalization and regrowth, it is also importantly a more complex force of “reshaping” and restructuring of rural spaces (Marsden and Sonnino, 2000: 196). The complexity and variability of this reshaping makes it difficult to classify and evaluate, but it may cause competition between conventional and alternative food chains and affect rural food distributors tied to agriculture.

Though I do believe strongly that these effects on the rural community as well as the broader trends of farm consolidation mentioned earlier are results of the modernization of the food chain, it is important to acknowledge the inherent difficulty in drawing direct cause-and-effect relationships in this field. Even though trends of contract farming and farm consolidation are easy to identify, distinct causes are more difficult to discern. For example, many argue that the modernization and mechanization of on-farm practices (more so than the  modernization of the structure of the food chain) contributes to the rural out-migration because machines have in many instances taken the place of people previously employed in agriculture.

I have tried in my writing here to focus on the effects of changes in food chain structure rather than the effects of changes in on-farm practices, because I believe the former is an under-studied and under-acknowledged area of research. However, this is clearly not an insignificant subject. The cost-price squeeze caused largely by structural changes in the food chain as well as the development of alternative food chains in response to these difficulties have large and complex effects on rural communities, as well as consumers outside these communities, and the health of the environment. The various social and economic effects of food chain modernization include farm consolidation and subsequent decreases in rural population, as well as the more complex political and social implications of contract farming. The alternative food chain has developed in response to these as well as other downsides to the modernized conventional food chain, and has complex but often positive effects on rural communities. These include increasing farmers’ incomes, causing competition between farmers who follow different production models, and affecting other rural industries tied to agriculture.

The structural changes in the food chain responsible for this larger reshaping of rural communities are no doubt inextricably tied to changes in on-farm practices, but the difficulty in distinguishing between the two does not take away from the importance of the former. It is essential to take all these complexities into consideration when attempting to form a comprehensive view of conventional and alternative food chains and their diverse impacts on rural communities. I strongly believe that this knowledge can benefit consumers and activists currently involved in the local food movement and other alternative food chains, helping these people to truly understand the movement they are reacting to, the movement they are participating in, and the implications of both of these for the farmers growing our food.

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A shocking depiction of widespread food industry concentration/consolidation, as shown by the hugely disproportionate market share held by just the top four companies of different products, ranging from 55% to 84%. This image is from a Farm Aid article, though I don’t know what year the data is from.

I didn’t include my list of references because I figured no one really wanted to read a long list of formal citations. If you are interested in reading any of the articles I’ve cited here, just e-mail me (below) and I can send the titles your way, though you likely won’t have access to most unless you can use your university’s database or the like.

Thanks for reading!
Simon

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at eatfortheearth@gmail.com and check out my twitter, @Eat4theEarth, for interesting links and articles.

Diet and Climate Change

In their 2009 study in Climatic Change, Stehfest et al. pointed out that “climate change mitigation policies tend to focus on the energy sector, while the livestock sector receives surprisingly little attention, despite the fact that it accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions and for 80% of total anthropogenic land use.” As many begin to realize the significance of agriculture-based emissions and contributions to climate change, researchers are increasingly studying this topic. Though this is definitely a very recent trend, I was able to find several studies from the last ten years which focus on the connection between dietary choices and future climate change. You can find these studies and more at the end of this post, if you want to read their abstracts and understand them more deeply. The basic idea behind all the studies is the same. They use measured demographic and agricultural trends (for example agricultural yields, dietary choices, population growth, wealth, etc.) to create a model which contains the many variables that together define our current food system. Researchers can then run different theoretical future scenarios through the model and find the resultant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of each scenario. Different scenarios assume certain changes to the current food system, such as reduced meat consumption or yield increases. See the figure below for an example of Stehfest et al.’s results.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 3.20.43 PM

The above chart shows global GHG emissions in the year 2050, measured in gigatonnes CO2 equivalent. (A gas such as CH4 has a different Global Warming Potential (GWP) from CO2, based on its heat-trapping ability and lifetime in the atmosphere; the number graphed here is the estimated amount of CO2 equivalent to that of all GHGs emitted, based on GWP calculations for various gases such as CH4 and NO2.)

Each of the bars shown above represents a different future scenario. REF is the reference scenario in which all current trends continue. This could be thought of as the control. Scenario IP is based on widespread improvement in productivity. TM includes this productivity improvement as well as the adoption of specific emission mitigation technologies such as adding fat to cattle feed, which decreases the amount of CH4 cows emit during digestion. The CC, or Climate Carnivore scenario assumes that worldwide 75% of ruminant meat and dairy products are replaced by other animal products (in addition to the steps taken in IP and TM). Ruminant animal products (those derived from ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats) have inherently higher GHG emissions because these animals digest the cellulose in their food by way of fermentation, which produces the potent greenhouse gas CH4 as a byproduct. This explains the large reduction in emissions from the CC scenario. Finally, the FL or Flexitarian scenario assumes that 75% of animal products are replaced by plant-based sources (once again, in addition to IP and TM improvements).

As you can clearly see, the FL scenario, in which the least animal products are consumed, results in the lowest agriculture-based GHG emissions of all situations. As authors Hedenus et al. explain, “deep cuts in emissions from food and agriculture do not seem plausible without large changes in consumption towards less GHG intensive food, in particular less ruminant meat and dairy.” What I find fascinating here is the significance of the emissions reduction from simply decreasing consumption of ruminant products. I think this is encouraging for those who can see the value in eating fewer animal products, but are not able to change their diet drastically because of certain limiting factors. If we all made the effort to eat less beef and milk, the climate would be measurably better off.

In a similar study, authors Bajželj et al. asserted that “only when strategies include significant elements of demand reduction is it possible to prevent an increase in agricultural expansion and agriculture-related GHG emissions.” The emphasis here is on managing agriculture-based emissions from the demand side of the food chain rather than (or in addition to) the supply side, i.e. changing diets rather than changing agricultural methods. Agriscience research is focused almost completely on increasing yields and this effort is no doubt important, as the researchers acknowledge. However, there are “biophysical limits” on yields and we cannot continue to increase these forever. For this reason and many others, it is valuable and necessary to change the demand side of the food chain. This means changing our diet and eating less animal products. See below for a visualization of the findings of this study.

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In the above chart, Bajželj et al. compare the emissions (in gigatonnes COequivalent per year) resulting from agriculture and land use change in six different scenarios. Every CT scenario assumes the continuation of Current Trends in yield increases. Every YG scenario is based on a worldwide closing of the Yield Gap, so that every region is producing at its maximum yield possible. Hence we can see that all YG scenarios involve less emissions, as food is produced more efficiently in these scenarios. Both number 1 scenarios (CT1 and YG1) include no dietary changes. Number 2 scenarios include 50% reduction in global food waste. Number 3 scenarios include this food waste reduction as well as adoption of a theoretical “healthy diet,” with decreased consumption of sugars, oils, and importantly a huge reduction in red meat and other animal products. In other words, CT1 represents a “business-as-usual” scenario while YG3 represents the optimal path for our food industry, and all other scenarios are combinations of different emission reduction strategies. The two horizontal lines in the graph represent benchmark emissions levels; the dotted black line shows the amount of CO2 produced by agriculture in 2009 and the red line shows the emissions level which would raise global temperatures by 2 ºC, a commonly used target.

The difference between CT1 and CT3 is clearly larger than that between CT1 and YG1. CT3 involves the adoption of dietary changes from CT1, whereas YG1 only involves improved yields from CT1. The larger emission reduction in CT3 means that food-demand changes can actually reduce emissions more than food-supply changes, at least as estimated by the model used here. Once again we can understand the importance of reducing consumption of animal products, as evidenced by the most recent scientific study.

Another 2014 study focused on the present consumption of animal products in UK rather than projecting into the future. In this study, Scarborough et al. surveyed more than 50,000 meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans and calculated the GHG emissions of each of these diets based on “food frequency questionnaires” as well as existing estimates of the GHG emissions of 289 individual foods. Their findings were straightforward and telling: “after adjustment for sex and age, an average 2,000 [Calorie] high meat diet had 2.5 times as many GHG emissions than an average 2,000 [Calorie] vegan diet.” In this case, a “high meat diet” describes one which involves more than 100 grams of meat per day. 100 grams is about 3.5 oz, which is not a very large portion. Thus many meat eaters likely fall into this category.

Not surprisingly given what we know about animal agriculture, these studies clearly had similar findings about the relative emissions of different scenarios, namely the following: In order to reduce the contribution of agriculture to climate change, we absolutely need to eat less animal products. It should be noted that each study used different models, different assumptions, and different scenarios so that quantitative results varied widely. However, this doesn’t weaken the findings because different outputs can be expected from different methods. The relative differences between scenarios and the conclusions drawn by the researchers based on these differences were all remarkably similar, and this is the important part.

All these studies focused on determining the GHG emission reduction possibilities of dietary change, but they did not touch on how this drastic, widespread dietary change can actually come about. People in developing countries who grow their own food or spend much of their income on food likely rely so heavily on animal products in their diet that it would be impossible to eliminate them. They simply do not have other options available. However, many of us in developed countries are able to reduce our consumption of animal products to some degree. We generally spend less of our income on food and have many alternatives to animal-based protein available to us. We are some of the very few people in the world who have this opportunity to make this change, so I believe that it is our responsibility to do so. There is widespread scientific consensus (as evidenced in the numerous studies cited here) that reducing consumption of animal products is a positive step for the future health of our planet and climate. Those of us who understand the reality of climate change and are able to take actions against it should do so.

Studies mentioned in this post, and others:
Importance of Food Demand Management for Climate Mitigation (in Nature Climate Change, August 2014)

The Importance of Reduced Meat and Dairy Consumption for Meeting Stringent Climate Change Targets (in Climatic Change,  March 2014)

Climate Benefits of Changing Diet (in Climatic Change, February 2009)

Food Consumption, Diet Shifts, and Associated Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases from Agricultural Production (in Global Environmental Change, August 2010)

Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat-eaters Fish-eaters, Vegetarians, and Vegans in the UK (in Climatic Change, June 2014)

Global Diets Link Environmental Sustainability and Human Health (in Nature, November 2014) 

Also, a Civil Eats article on the above study^

Thanks for reading,
Simon

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at eatfortheearth@gmail.com and check out my twitter, @Eat4theEarth, for interesting links and articles.

 

Interview with Amazing Farmer Mark Kimball

Mark Kimball heads the innovative and well-known Essex farm in Essex, New York. The farm has only been around for eleven years but grows a huge range of animal and plant products on its 850 acres. Mark is an inspiring guy who puts so much thought and energy into his farming. More so than any other farmers I have met, he is extremely aware of larger issues and his strong beliefs on these matters inform and frame his approach to farming. After visiting and working on Essex farm a few times, I wanted to interview Mark to hear more about his philosophy and practices. I posted this interview to FarmTogetherNow, where I am guest-blogging at the moment. In an attempt to honor my commitment to their blog, I have decided not to simply copy the entire post here but instead include a link to it. The interview is fairly long, so I split it up into two more digestible parts. Here are part one and part two. The piece includes thoughts from Mark on farming, food, labor, and the environment, among other things. If  you are interested in these topics, I think you will encounter some fascinating new ideas and perspectives in Mark’s words. If you don’t have a chance to read the interview, definitely check out Essex farm’s website or pick up Kristin Kimball’s book The Dirty Life which tells the story of this farm.

Additionally, in the future I am going to really try to post more frequently with a cool article, website or book that is worth checking out. If you have a twitter and are looking for interesting articles and such, I often post links to these kinds of things on my twitter, @Eat4TheEarth. If you have ideas for posts or anything you’d like to see me write about, you can e-mail me at eatfortheearth@gmail.com

Thanks for reading,
Simon

Food Waste and Happy Thanksgiving!

I recently wrote a blog post about the huge issue of food waste for the Farm Together Now website, where I am guest-blogging. Though I wrote it for their blog, it is something I have been wanting to talk about on here for a while. I think the post is a great introduction to this relevant, fascinating issue (its importance, causes, effects, and solutions) so I definitely recommend you check it out here! It is a huge elaboration on a much older post about food waste and appreciating food. Below are a few thoughts surrounding my perspective on food waste that I didn’t express in the post for FTN.

I talk about a lot of different issues within the global food system on this blog, but I think food waste is the most universal and pervasive. Across all the different agricultural methods and models, throughout the whole system from production to consumption, we are wasting valuable, nutritious food that someone worked very hard to grow. Of course it is important to think about how we grow our food and which foods we choose to eat. But in a way, food waste permeates all other issues within the global food system. We can talk about GMOs and herbicide resistant crops; we can talk about the disappearance of the mid-sized farm; we can talk about industrial animal agriculture. In the background of all these issues there is always food waste. This idea is both scary and fascinating to me. So much money, energy, resources, work (and environmental impacts) are inherent in food production. While research is focused on more efficient use of these resources, food is meanwhile being wasted. Improvements in crop varieties and other technologies often do little to combat food waste, but many other diverse strategies at the consumer, producer, and policy levels are already making big differences. You can learn more about these in the post mentioned above. To stress the importance of food waste, here are some somewhat shocking (but also change-inspiring) statistics: 

It is estimated that the U.S. wastes nearly 40% of its food and that the combined social, economic, and environmental costs of food waste total $2.6 trillion dollars worldwide, annually (according to this study in the Public Library of Science and this report from the Food and Agriculture Organization).

Likewise, it is estimated that just a 15% reduction in food waste in the U.S. could feed 25 million Americans and that America uses 25% of all its freshwater to grow food that ends up being thrown away rather than eaten (according to the same study mentioned above, cited in this report from the National Resources Defense Council).

Lastly, I want to remark on what I feel the Thanksgiving holiday represents in relation to eliminating food waste. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I have grown to love it more as I have increasingly understood all the work that goes into producing food and how amazing food can be if prepared with care, savored, and shared. The value we place on food and our habits surrounding food play a huge role in the food waste issue, especially in developed countries where food waste happens mostly at the consumer level. I strongly believe that appreciating all the work and energy that goes into food (as we should do on Thanksgiving) helps to value food and pay more attention to our purchases and habits.

This may sound a bit cheesy and idealistic, and of course there are many other effective strategies we must also take in order to combat food waste. But as I like to say, “consumers are the greatest contributors to the food waste problem in developed countries, so we are necessarily a huge part of its solution.” Of all the food issues that we try to combat personally with our dietary and consumer choices, I think that food waste is the easiest one to fight directly in this way. There’s a lot of advice out there on specific strategies to avoid wasting food, e.g. this list from Kitchn. Here are a few tidbits from me: try to eat all your leftovers before going out to buy new food, trust your senses (sight, smell, taste) over the expiration date (which is an unregulated and often meaningless estimate), don’t go for the ridiculously huge bulk pack if you won’t eat it all, etc.

So enjoy your Thanksgiving and I hope you have a delicious, slow, thoughtful meal! And don’t waste any of that beautiful food- eat all the leftovers!

Thanks for reading,
Simon

Interview with Hallie Muller of Full Belly Farm

For this post, I had the opportunity to interview Hallie Muller of the amazing Full Belly Farm in Guinda, California. I actually originally posted this at farmtogethernow.com, an awesome website from the people behind the book Farm Together Now, which I reviewed on the Movies & Books page if you scroll down a bit. I am guest blogging for Farm Together Now for a few months, which is a really exciting experience. Anything I post on there I will also post here, but I definitely recommend checking out their website and subscribing to their blog if you like mine.

Alright, back to Full Belly Farm. I’d love to tell you all about the farm, but I’ll let Hallie say everything. Here’s the interview (with some photos of the farm mixed in):

Simon Willig: First, some background information on your farm: what do you grow/raise? Where is your farm located and what is your piece of land like (soil, history, layout, etc.)?

Hallie Muller: Full Belly Farm is a 450-acre CCOF certified organic diversified fruit, vegetable, grain, nut, and sheep  farm. Started in 1984 by Paul Muller and Dru Rivers, Full Belly Farm is now home to three generations of farmers and is owned and operated by Paul, Dru, Judith Redmond, Andrew Brait, and Amon and Jenna Muller, Paul and Dru’s oldest son and daughter-in-law. We are nestled in the Capay Valley in Northern California, a valley known for producing some of the highest quality organic fruits and vegetables in California. Our farmland is a beautifully rich clay loam, perfect for growing year-round. The climate in our region allows us to farm every day of the year – with summertime temperatures reaching well over 100º and winter frosts are never so harsh that we cannot grow brassicas and leafy greens.

SW: What is your philosophy/approach to farming? What experiences/ideas inform this approach?

HM: We have created a farm with a “whole system” approach – every action must be made with purpose, thought, and consideration of the impact it will have on the long term sustainability of our farm. We see our farm as a three legged stool – the legs being ecological, economic, and social sustainability – and each leg is of equal importance. The farm must maintain a levels of ecological sustainability – healthy water systems, healthy soil, and biological diversity is vital to the overall success of our fruits and vegetables. Our farm must also be economically sustainable – and we have worked to create a cash flow that is year round through direct marketing and our Community Supported Agriculture program. Finally, the social responsibility and sustainability of our farm manifests itself in the overall health of our crew.

SW: Who performs the labor on your farm: humans, tractors, horses, etc.? Why?

HM: Labor on our farm is performed mostly by humans – every crop we grow (with the exception of nuts and grains) is hand harvested, washed, and packed. This allows for the highest levels of quality control when it comes to our farm’s products. We do use tractors for discing, cultivating, planting, and tilling our soil. Animals are also an essential component to our farm – our sheep, contained in mobile electric fencing, move from field to field eating crop residue. Chickens are used to control pests in our grapes and apples. Goats take care of blackberry brambles near our creek-beds. Our farm has tried to take on a whole system approach – one that looks at every living being on our farm and asks, “how can this creature be useful to our farm?”

SW: How do you approach pest/disease management on your farm?

HM: As an organic farm, we use an approach to pests and diseases that works well in our organic system. Firstly, crops are rotated from field to field on a seasonal basis, rarely appearing in the same field more than once in a three to five year period. Second, we try to keep on top of diseases and pests so that we are in control before the issues become too much to handle. This means that we have created biological diversity around our fields with hedgerows and native plantings that allow for native insect populations, many of whom combat pests in our fields. We also use organic pesticides and we have a [pest control advisor] who helps to advise our farm. Finally, we plant our crops in small, successive blocks which allows us to maintain a “not all of our eggs in one basket” mentality (crop failure, though a loss for our farm, is not the end of the world). Our diversity is our best management method against pests and disease.

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You can see in these pictures some of the diversity that Hallie mentions above. For a complete list of what Full Belly Farm grows as well as detailed information and recipes for each crop, check out their awesome crop timeline.


SW: Now for some broader questions about the food system: what is one big misconception consumers may have about food/farming?

HM: In my personal opinion, the biggest misconception is the real cost of food. American’s spend shockingly little on their food supply – and they expect it to be safe, tasty, and reliable. The price that consumers pay in the average grocery store does not reflect the real cost of producing that food. Organic and small scale farmers are often railed against because their food is “elitist” or too expensive for the common person, when in fact the price that those farmers are asking is the reflection of paying farm workers a fair wage, the true cost of organic seed, the true, non-subsidized cost of farmland and equipment and seeds, etc. The best way to change this misconception is through education – we find that our weekly newsletter that is delivered to each of our CSA customers is a great place for that to happen.

SW: What do you think is one of the biggest changes needed within our current food system?

HM: Continued support of small scale farms, less big ag vs. small ag mentality, and more consumer understanding of farming and food systems. There are so many opportunities for change! The thing that is most frightening for us is the movement towards more government regulation and less understanding of the realities of farm life by those making decisions. The Food Safety and Modernization Act has shaken many small farmers to the core – and continues to be a barrier for entry for new beginning farmers. This needs to change!

SW: How can consumers help to bring about change?

HM: Consumers can continue to vote with their food dollars – supporting small farmers at their local farmers markets, shopping at independent grocery stores, and joining CSA’s are great first steps!

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In a beautiful example of what Hallie mentioned earlier, the sheep here are eating the leftovers of a chard crop, helping to make way for a new planting and getting a meal in the process.

Check out the Full Belly Farm website and facebook page for more great info and photos.

Thanks for reading,
Simon

The Farm Bill and its Significance

The Farm Bill is the colloquial name for the absolutely monstrous package of farm and food policy that Congress passes (or tries to pass) every five years. Though other pieces of legislation may also include similar issues, the consistent timing of the Farm Bill provides the government with a predictable arena to discuss and implement improvements to prevailing food and farm policy.

The Farm Bill is so huge and controversial that the topic could (and does) fill books upon books. In this post I want to just include some background and introduction to this fascinating topic as I currently understand and think about it. In a series of posts following this one, I will cover other important Farm Bill topics in more detail and depth: the politics of the bill, conservation, subsidies, nutrition, etc. Through these posts I will try to explain how the Farm Bill works and why it works this way. Additionally, I’ll try to address how we can use the Farm Bill as a tool to bring about change in the food industry.

The Significance of the Farm Bill

The most recent Farm Bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 which was passed this February, authorizes an estimated $956 billion in federal spending over the course of ten years. In addition to its nearly trillion dollar cost, the bill covers a huge range of issues in its 959 pages. The Farm Bill includes several seemingly unrelated areas such as forestry, nutrition, agricultural subsidies, conservation, and rural development. Clearly, the Farm Bill has influence outside farmers’ fields, for example on the price of foods, the health of the environment, the wellbeing of rural communities, as well as water and air quality. Additionally, the bill is funded by our tax dollars.

As you can see, there are many interwoven issues and interests wrapped up in the Farm Bill. Recently, the House and Senate spent two years trying to navigate this maze and pass the latest Farm Bill. (Cartoon courtesy of Matt Wuerker at Politico)

In his book, Food Fight, author Dan Imhoff asserts that “if you eat, pay taxes, care about biodiversity, worry about the quality of school lunches, or notice the loss of farmland and woodlands, you have a personal stake in the Farm Bill.” Though these large social, economic, and environmental issues are hard to see first-hand and may seem far-off, they are no doubt important for the future of our society and the earth we rely on. I like Imhoff’s words “personal stake” as this bill really does impact all our daily lives, even if we don’t realize it or remind ourselves of it. When we fight to bring change to the Farm Bill, it is not about some obscure, distant issues but ones that are close-by and personal like the food we eat and the nature and wildlife we love.

We can look at agriculture itself as the intersection of many environmental issues: water usage, pollution of air and water, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and land degradation and erosion. In the quest to feed all humans, we will necessarily alter our planet and other creatures. It’s just a matter of doing so in an ethical and sustainable manner, one that keeps the land healthy for future generations and does not deplete our resources or environment. One of the most effective ways to change how we grow food is to start at the policy level. Policy in the Farm Bill has the amazing ability to incentivize environmentally beneficial behavior and disincentivize or prohibit environmentally harmful behavior.

Farmers can only produce in an environmentally sustainable way if it is economically viable. With the funds it has to offer, the Farm Bill can help make these practices possible. The bill therefore has the power to ameliorate or exacerbate all the aforementioned environmental issues depending on how funds are spent and the kind of practices they encourage. So then, how are these 1 trillion Farm Bill dollars spent? Surprisingly, about 79% of the funding from the 2014 bill goes to nutritional programs such as school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP or simply food stamps) rather than to agriculture itself. I will talk more about this chunk of the bill in my next post. Second to nutrition are subsidies to agriculture in several different forms (the crop insurance and commodity programs slices in the graph below). These programs together make up about 15% of the total bill. Next in size, the conservation slice includes all the money that helps farmers to adopt any of several conservation-minded practices, such as setting land aside in a conservation reserve for several years. Again, more to come on conservation in future posts! I wrote a 15 page paper for class on conservation in the Farm Bill so I have a lot to say about this topic. Even though they take up a small percent of the bill’s total budget, other programs such as those devoted to research or certified organic practices also receive significant funds.

Above are the Farm Bill budget costs over the next ten fiscal years. (Photo courtesy of this Washington Post article)

If you have any questions or opinions you’d like to share, feel free to send me an e-mail at eatfortheearth@gmail.com or just comment below. All of the above is my original thought or commonly accepted knowledge, accept where otherwise noted and where credit is given to someone else.

Additionally, I’ve just reviewed four more books, each very different in topic. You can check these book reviews out at the Movies & Books tab and scroll down to get to the books. The newly reviewed books are: Upton Sinclair’s classic The JungleFood, Inc. by Peter Pringle (an especially awesome book), Farm Together Now by Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Thanks for reading,
Simon

Pasteurization and the Raw Milk Debate

I know it’s been a while since my last post but I’m really excited about this one and those to come. I have been pretty busy the last couple months, working on a farm for a couple weeks and then preparing for and settling into college at Middlebury. Between my farm work, the EcoFarm conference I attended, my favorite class Food Battles, and all the reading I have been doing, I’ve got a bunch of great posts lined up as well as several things to add to the recommended books and websites tabs. So get excited and keep checking back!

I wrote the following essay on pasteurization and raw milk for my Food Battles class and I learned a lot while writing it so I wanted to share it on here. My research and reading on this topic has changed my perspective on the issue since I last wrote about raw milk in this post from a couple years ago. My new essay is much more informed, scientific, and well-rounded. If you are wondering anything about pasteurization or the raw milk debate, hopefully this will clear things up. Since I wrote it for class, the language is pretty formal. (But don’t worry, I added in some cool pictures to break it up a bit and make it more interesting for all us visual learners.) Also, the proper citations and bibliography are a nice bonus if you want to check them out or learn more. Please comment with any questions you have! I’d love to discuss my findings and opinions. Here is my essay:

As our food system and society have industrialized and transitioned away from subsistence agriculture, we are increasingly distanced from our food sources and value convenience and a long shelf-life in food products. Previously, home food preservation methods like curing, drying, and canning were common. But currently, large companies process and preserve the majority of our food products.  Food is therefore more convenient, longer lasting, and its preparation takes up less of our time. We  have access to all types of foods at all times of the year. Perhaps most importantly of all, food is safer for us to eat. In order to make food safer, food processors employ techniques such as pasteurization that kill many pathogens present and prevent or slow their future growth. Pasteurization involves heating foods (usually liquids) and then immediately cooling them in order to kill bacteria that lead to spoilage or disease.

Though canning and other home preservation techniques are fun and satisfying to try out, industrial food preservation and processing helps bring us a safe, convenient, and diverse food supply.

Though pasteurization undoubtedly makes milk and juice safer to drink and longer-lasting, opponents of the process argue that it destroys some of milk’s beneficial health properties and that its universalization makes difficult the production of and access to unpasteurized milk, a healthy and safe product in its own right. The precursor to the modern process of pasteurization was developed by French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who studied fermentation and found that it was a live microbial process, not just a chemical one as previously thought. Through his experiments, Pasteur proved that air-borne bacteria contaminate and spoil foods and that he could destroy them by exposing them to heat.

Pasteur’s process, refined and modernized, would later be known as pasteurization. But pasteurization was not widespread until long after Pasteur died. USDA bacteriologist Alice Evans is many ways responsible for the widespread use of the process. Evans discovered that a common disease among cows, Brucellosis, was being transferred to humans through bacteria (now known as Brucella melitensis) in raw milk. Through her advocating of pasteurization as a prevention of this disease, the US eventually adopted the practice on a larger scale in the 1930s.

In modern pasteurization, food is heated to a calculated temperature and held there for a specific time based on the conditions required to kill the most heat resistant pathogenic bacteria in that food. In milk these are Coxiella burnetii and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, responsible for causing Q fever and tuberculosis respectively. The given food is then cooled immediately and quickly in order to avoid remaining at a temperature which could support bacterial growth.

Though we might not think about it, the milk we drink makes its way through a pasteurizer like the one above before it gets to us. I don’t mean to say that our milk shouldn’t be pasteurized just because it has to go through the above scary metal contraption. I just that it’s interesting and important to know where our food has been before we eat it.

There are several different time-temperature combinations that will give the desired sterility, but in the US milk is most commonly heated to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, known as high temperature short time or HTST. Under a microscopic view, this heat kills microorganisms by destroying the organic molecules that are essential to their function. The high temperature denatures proteins and changes their shape, weakens bonds in the cell wall, liquefies phospholipids, damages RNA and mutates DNA.

Zooming back out, this pasteurization is most often performed on a large scale with a technique known as continuous flow. In this approach, raw milk chilled to 39 degrees Fahrenheit is forced through tubes heated by steel plates surrounded by hot steam or water. In the holding tube, the milk remains at the required 161 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 16 seconds. As the water continues flowing, a temperature sensor ensures it has been sufficiently and evenly heated. If the milk isn’t hot enough, it is pumped back into the initial raw milk tank to be heated again. If the milk has reached the desired temperature, it is chilled with coolant back down to 39 degrees Fahrenheit and stored at that temperature before packaging and shipping. In total, this process kills 99.999% of microorganisms present in raw milk without destroying much nutritional value (Stabel et al. 2004).

Though the added safety and extended shelf life offered by this process are beneficial, the pasteurization of foods (mostly milk) stirs up a lot of controversy. Because pasteurization has become standard and legally required in many states, opponents fight for the right to produce and drink unpasteurized, raw milk. It has largely turned from a food safety issue into a political issue. Though I believe the right to produce and consume raw milk should be universal, I also acknowledge that in this debate, much of the science has been traded for politics and sensationalism.

Many associate the legality of raw milk consumption with the basic freedom to drink and eat what one wants.

Advocates of raw milk claim that the pasteurization of milk destroys many beneficial nutrients, bacteria, and enzymes. As far as modern science can tell, this is for the most part not true (or at least it is not that simple). Though small amounts of some nutrients are lost during pasteurization, milk is not a good source of many of these nutrients compared with other foods. A 1943 study showed that pasteurization destroys about 10% of the Vitamin B2 present in raw milk, 20% of the Vitamin C, and 5% of the soluble phosphorus and calcium (Wilson 1943). There is also a 10% loss of B6 (Schoenfeld 2012) and slight decrease in Copper and Iron levels after pasteurization (Cosano et al. 1994).

Raw milk advocates also claim that beneficial enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization. While it is true that pasteurization inactivates most enzymes, many of the broad claims about beneficial enzymes are misinformed or represent a simplified version of the scientific truth. Lactase, for example, is necessary for the digestion of the milk sugar lactose. Proponents of raw milk often point to the lactase content of raw milk as a beneficial digestive aid. In reality though, lactase is synthesized in the digestive system of mammals and is not present in raw milk.

While the enzyme lipase is present in raw milk and destroyed by pasteurization, it does not have any beneficial biological function in milk. Lipase “is involved in the synthesis of milk fat triglycerides in the mammary gland and its presence in milk is due [only] to a spillover from this gland” (Deeth 2006). Lipase has the ability to break down the fat in milk, actually causing rancidity. If we were to drink raw milk, the acidity of our stomachs would destroy the lipase present and any beneficial digestive aid that could come from it.

Phosphatase is an enzyme present in raw milk that is known to help in the breakdown of phosphorus and calcium. It is completely destroyed by pasteurization and in fact a common test for successful pasteurization is the phosphatase test, which checks that all phosphatase present has been inactivated. Even though the beneficial function of phosphatase has been proven, it seems the variable amount of the enzyme present in raw milk and the effectiveness of this amount in our body is trickier to pinpoint. If there is a study on this matter out there, I could not find it.

We can quickly see how complicated the science surrounding this issue gets. In short, though pasteurization does inactivate many enzymes present in milk, the functionality and nature of these enzymes in the milk and our digestion is far too complex to broadly assert that pasteurizing milk kills all good enzymes. As has been made clear by many studies, nutrient losses from pasteurization are miniscule enough for many to consider them insignificant and irrelevant among the larger issues. I think that these nutrient losses are noteworthy and should be acknowledged in order to get a complete view of the issue, but also that they pale in importance to larger questions of policy and safety.

It is easy to associate raw milk with an idyllic scene like the one above in which cows are grazed on fresh pasture and hand milked. However, it is not that simple. On a larger raw milk dairy, cows may be milked by machines instead of by hand, held in closer confinement than would be expected, and fed more grain then fresh grass. Too often the benefits of good dairy practices are counted among the benefits of raw milk. The two may go together, but aren’t inherently tied. And on the other hand, many caring farmers with sustainable practices may choose to pasteurize their milk.

All too often, raw milk advocates really oppose the practices of the larger conventional agriculture system when they say they oppose pasteurization. On a list of “15 Things that Milk Pasteurization Kills,” Marc McAffee includes “the family farm” and “the consumer connection [to farms],” which are threatened by the flood of cheap commodity milk from large far-away dairy operations (McAffee 2012). Truthfully, these threats are consequences of our current agricultural model, not of pasteurization.

Defending this agricultural system are federal organizations like the CDC, FDA, and USDA, who strongly criticize unpasteurized milk for its health risks. In reality though, the health risks associated with drinking raw milk aren’t as considerable as the FDA often makes them sound. The CDC found that 60% of the reported disease outbreaks in milk from 1993-2006 were caused by unpasteurized milk (Langer et al. 2012). Pasteurized milk still caused 40% of those outbreaks. Therefore raw milk is statistically slightly more dangerous than pasteurized milk. However, raw milk is not “uniquely dangerous” compared to other foods, raw or processed (Weston A. Price Foundation 2012).

According to the FDA branch Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, one serving of deli meat is 10.8 times more likely to give illness by Listeria than one serving of raw milk (CFSAN 2003). It’s true that raw milk is a minimally processed food that can be contaminated by poor conditions. But the majority of the time, farmers who believe strongly in selling their milk raw will take care to maintain a clean, healthy environment in order to produce the safest product possible. As we can tell from the CDC report mentioned above, outbreaks can be caused by pasteurized milk as well: if there is a misstep after pasteurization, harmful bacteria may be introduced to the milk. Clearly, there is inherent risk to consuming any product that comes from a farm or from an animal (i.e. everything we eat).

Clearly, milk (including unpasteurized milk) does not cause a large fraction of foodborne diseases. (Image from 2008 Center for Science in the Public Interest report).

As I see it, this industrialized food preservation process fits right into our industrialized food production and distribution system. In the conditions of a conventional dairy operation exist many contaminants such as feces and dirt, disease and infection of the cows, and animal vectors like insects and rodents. Even if the cow is exceptionally healthy and clean, contamination of the milk by surface- or air-borne bacteria is always possible. Milk must often survive hundreds of miles and several days in transport. Pasteurization helps it to do so. Together with the rest of the food system, the sterility and extended shelf-life offered by pasteurization help make milk cheap, widespread, and safe.

However, pasteurized milk’s lower price and ubiquity does not mean that it is objectively preferable to unpasteurized milk. I can personally attest to the superior taste of raw milk and I enjoy drinking such a fresh, minimally processed product. I believe that everyone should have the right to drink or produce it. Though I can definitely see the place and value of pasteurization in our food system, I believe that every state should legalize the retail sale of unpasteurized milk as to encourage diversification rather than standardization. Current state laws, whether they prohibit retail sale or all sale of raw milk, should be changed so that farmers who can’t afford pasteurization equipment or wish to sell raw milk on ideological grounds can do so and have an equal opportunity in the market.

For me this policy surrounding unpasteurized milk is the biggest downside of pasteurization. The most problematic aspect of the pasteurization debate is the close-mindedness of each side that prevents them from acknowledging the validity of each other’s arguments and keeps pasteurized and raw milk producers and advocates at odds when they could work together to create a balanced, diversified food system in which policy supports both approaches.

In the diagram above, a herdshare is a method of buying raw milk in states which may outlaw other sales of raw milk. In a herd share, you are technically buying a fraction of the animal (e.g. 25 people each own 1/25 of a cow) and not its milk. Together, you and the other shareholders own the whole cow. You pay the farmer to take care of your cow and get your own cow’s milk.

Works Cited:

“The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk.” Food Facts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 17 June 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

“Fresh Unprocessed (Raw) Milk: Safety, Health, and Economic Issues.” A Campaign for Real Milk. N.p., 9 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

Kesser, Chris. “Raw Milk Reality: Benefits of Raw Milk.” Chris Kresser. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Langer, Adam J., Tracy Ayers, Julian Grass, MIchael Lynch, Frederick J, Angulo, and Barbara E. Mahon. “Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws–United States, 1993-2006.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mar. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Louis Pasteur: Pasteurization/Vaccines.” Inventor of the Week: Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Apr. 2003. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

McAffee, Mark. “The 15 Things That Milk Pasteurization Kills.” A Campaign for Real Milk. N.p., 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

“Milk Enzymes.” Milk Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“More About Enzymes.” Raw Milk Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“National Women’s History Museum.” Education & Resources. National Women’s History Museum, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Pasteurization: Definition and Methods.” International Dairy Foods Association. International Dairy Foods Association, June 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Pasteurization.” University of Guelph Food Science. University of Guelph, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“Raw Milk Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Raw Milk: What the Scientific Literature Really Says.” Real Milk. Weston A. Price Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

Schoenfeld, Pam. “Vitamin B6: The Underappreciated Vitamin.” Vitamins and Minerals. Weston A. Price Foundation, 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

Wilson, G. S. “The Pasteurization of Milk.” U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. British Medical Journal, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

Zurera-Cosano, G., R. Moreno-Rojas, and M. Amaro-Lopez. “Effect of Processing on Contents and Relationships of Mineral Elements of Milk.” ScienceDirect. Elsevier B.V., 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

-Simon