Our current global food system is both enormous and, complex; which has resulted in the efficiency, homogeneity and a platform that promotes interdependence between nations. The inherent problems of our food systems lie with the growing disparity between the populations growing demand for food and methods being employed against the earth’s resources to meet that demand. Many have noticed this growing disparity in the form of its socioeconomic, health, production, processor, or distributor-symptoms, and have attempted to address these symptoms; however, until the ecological imbalance is addressed holistically, it will amount to putting a Band-Aid on cancer.
Oran Hesterman does a great job detailing these symptoms in Fair Food. Food production, like many other production sectors, saw a drastic change in their operations management with the introduction of technology- the most notable being fossil fuels and pesticides. This has had a cascade of unintended consequences including: the pollution of our hydrological system, a decrease in the value of manual labor, an influx of former farm hands migrating into the city, an increase in health abnormalities and a decrease in the ecological diversity of species. This is not to say that technological progress is somehow to blame; rather, unprecedented growth in one part of the system has begun to tax other systems because of a lack of balance.
There should be a stronger emphasis on ecological management that is similar to accounting. To tackle these problems effectively, we must understand the inverse as well the proportional impacts on our environment, society, and ecological footprint. More people, particularly in industrialized cities, would benefit from a greater dependence on localized food sources. The problem of the global food system at its current scale is too ubiquitous to tackle as a whole, but in the creation of smaller food districts, we can begin to address the full scope of the food system issue (from farm to fork) at a more manageable scale. This allows for more equitable organic food access, an impetus for neighborhood development, and an easily digestible (pun intended!) system that defines personal and organizational accountability for its parts. Self-sufficiency on a smaller scale is an effective tool for overcoming some of the vulnerabilities of a larger problem.