Anyone thinks about food security?

June 4th, 2013 atam Posted in Climate change, Food | No Comments »

From Europe to Asia, food scandals are everywhere as greed and the global food supply chain combine into a truly toxic mix. What’s worse, we have to pay increasingly high prices for all that poison.

Has it occurred to anyone that locally grown food is important to Hong Kong, not only because it’s more easily traceable but also because it can provide a buffer against erratic imports, something that will get worse as climate change-induced episodes of droughts and flooding occur more frequently?

Nope. The thoughts are only for real estate. In a news report about Henderson Land’s clever proposal to “donate” a plot to the government to be turned into HK$1 million starter homes (the developer thereby getting infrastructure built to its other land holdings in the area for free), there was a picture of the plot, which is currently farmed and looks ready for a healthy harvest. Well, not for much longer.

There’s an organic farmer who’s been kicked off his farm after the landlord hiked the rent. It’s a profitable business, you see. More and more people appreciate the benefits of homegrown food but, ironically, their interest in renting small plots to grow their own at a price substantially higher than what an organic farmer can afford means the latter is forced out, to the detriment of consumers who can’t afford the time and/or money to do their own weekend farming. And these weekend farmers will be forced out too, in their turn, when the rapacious landlords finally find an opportunity to turn the land into more real estate. So the soil that the farmers have lovingly rehabilitated so it can yield food to nurture us is concreted over and sold for profits that go into the pocket of only a few persons.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were a visionary government that required new buildings to integrate vertical farms, but all we have are the same old residential blocks, built at lowest cost to offer the smallest flats, often not for living in, but as a kind of investment.

Meanwhile, people only moan because, unlike electricity tariff and transport fare, there is no single organisation at which they can vent their spleen at higher and higher prices. Except beef, because there’s only one importer, and this is one food that we need to cut back on in the first place because cattle rearing takes up so much land and emits so much methane. So while the UN’s urging people to eat less meat, the Hong Kong government is telling people they’ll see what they can do to increase meat consumption. What are they thinking?

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