Thought for food

03/10/2016

We’re witnessing a global collapse of the food chain. Bees are vanishing. Seafood stocks are shrinking. Overuse of pesticides and antibiotics threaten human and animal health. All the while, most Americans eat their meals without a second thought.

Humans have an ethical, moral and ecological obligation to save the food chain. Yet there are those who actively work against saving what we eat, and it’s not just big agribusiness with dirt on their hands. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is known for doing good work for the environment, but their legal action regarding ranching on the Point Reyes peninsula is misguided. These ranches represent the direction we need to travel. Small-scale, locally sourced and responsibly produced food has to be a part of the solution to reversing the harm done to our food chain. 

Those opposed to ranching in the Point Reyes National Seashore argue that these lands are for all, and that public ownership should override the interests of the relatively few ranch families working these lands. This is a false argument. 

We, the people, benefit from this homegrown food. The people of Marin and beyond purchase Clover Stornetta products, and tourists dine in restaurants offering delicacies borne by these ranches. Residents of the Bay Area enjoy finding these food stuffs in their stores. This type of food production is critical if we are to reverse the trend of large-scale, big-business farming that is harming ourselves and the environment.

By definition, human food production leaves a footprint on the world. The challenge we face is to minimize that footprint and grow our food in the least impactful way possible, while at the same time meeting demand. Intelligent people would be hard-pressed to argue against sustainable organic farming. Yet that very argument is being put forward at the exact time when our food systems are in collapse. 

In the 1960s, people with true forward-thinking vision spearheaded the revolution that saved this region from unbridled development. Today, West Marin leads the vanguard of the locavore revolution. As each of us ponders the question of ranching on Point Reyes, let’s also think of our place in the food chain and how we can minimize the impact we leave on it.

Scott McMorrow is an avid conservationist, and he often writes about issues that involve our environment. He lives in Inverness.