Trace­abil­ity sys­tems the so­lu­tion

Franklin County News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN ALLEN

If the prob­lem with our food sys­tems is, as claimed in last week’s Franklin County News, that the rea­son we grow food has be­come cor­rupted, where does the so­lu­tion now lie?

In her pa­per ’’Re­al­iz­ing jus­tice in lo­cal food sys­tems’’, aca­demic Pa­tri­cia Allen (no fam­ily re­la­tion­ship) ar­gues that ‘‘foodsys­tem lo­cal­iza­tion is both an ideal and a path­way to re­solve en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic is­sues in the food sys­tem’’. I whole­heart­edly agree.

Lo­cal food move­ments are grow­ing world-wide and are pred­i­cated on two mat­ters: sus­tain­abil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity.

Ac­count­abil­ity is an is­sue around the world where cor­po­rate in­ter­ests have suc­ceeded in re­duc­ing the trace­abil­ity of foods and in the con­tent that must be in­cluded on food la­bels.

The US is a prime ex­am­ple of this - re­cent fed­eral leg­is­la­tion, changed at the be­hest of cor­po­rates, ob­fus­cates the la­belling re­quire­ments of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied foods. When (not if) the TPPA comes in to force, it is pos­si­ble that food la­belling re­quire­ments will be taken out of our do­mes­tic con­trol and put in the hands of global cor­po­rates.

Lo­cal food sys­tems, where rep­u­ta­tion in the com­mu­nity is para­mount, can solve these is­sues with easy to im­ple­ment trace­abil­ity sys­tems and de­tailed la­belling. Lo­cal, small scale and or­ganic food sys­tems have their op­po­site in in­dus­tri­alised food sys­tems which are char­ac­terised by four as­pects: glob­al­i­sa­tion; stan­dard­i­s­a­tion; the use of chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides and fer­tilis­ers; and con­trol.

The first as­pect, glob­al­i­sa­tion ap­peals to con­sumers be­cause they can then have Cal­i­for­nia or­anges and grapes, for ex­am­ple, on the ta­ble in our off-sea­son. Lo­cal­i­sa­tion avoids the cli­mate chang­ing car­bon emis­sions from ship­ping that pro­duce around the world.

Glob­al­i­sa­tion ap­peals to grow­ers be­cause they then have ac­cess to mar­kets that re­sult in greater prof­its. Never mind the ex­ter­nal costs of ship­ping their pro­duce around the world that oth­ers must pay for. Lo­cal­i­sa­tion elim­i­nates those added costs.

The sec­ond as­pect of in­dus­tri­alised food sys­tems, stan­dard­i­s­a­tion, ap­peals to the food cor­po­rates be­cause it re­duces in­ven­tory sys­tem costs. Lo­cal or­ganic food sys­tems avoid chem­i­cal residues and, when struc­tured as a co-op, share the con­trol of that sys­tem with con­sumers, not profs-driven global cor­po­rates.

These is­sues of our in­dus­tri­alised food sys­tem will be­come even more of an is­sue in the fu­ture of lab-grown food. Stud­ies sug­gest in-vitro meat could of­fer en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits. But this would come at the cost of ac­count­abil­ity.

So to me, the so­lu­tion is a move away from in­dus­tri­alised sys­tems, and to­wards lo­cal, smallscale or­ganic grow­ers op­er­at­ing within a co-operative busi­ness struc­ture.


Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. The ed­i­tor re­serves the right to abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ter may be edited. Write to Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­ with your views.

John Allen

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