Organic apples by Anne-Maria Yritys

What is The Future of Agriculture and Food Production?

As a holder of the WSET Advanced certificate and a student of the WSET Diploma in and since 2007, I grew tired of the alcohol politics and Alko´s wholesale monopoly of wines in Finland. I spent thousands of euros of my own money to study for this program, just to realize that despite of my passion for wines and viticulture, there are far more important problems to be solved in our world.
 
Viticulture is nevertheless an important tradition and part of culture in many countries worldwide, but seeing how vulnerable the whole industry is to annual weather patterns I realized that humanity faces much larger problems and that my true professional calling is something else than marketing and promoting wines for sale in a country marked by a monopolized alcohol industry.
 
While studying viticulture I came to realize how fragile our local and global ecosystems are, with (micro) climates influencing local and global agriculture in a way that leaves many farmers with huge problems to just being able to survive financially. Like in much of agriculture around the world, the markets are dominated by a specific number of huge brands that buy much of the crop from small growers through co-operatives. Without these co-operatives many small farmers and wine growers would not be able to survive.
 
I have visited many wine regions during my life, including most of France, Hungary, and Northern Italy. In October 2010 I visited Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. 2010 was a disastrous year for Californian vineyards due to excess downfall (rain) that destroyed most of the crop.
 
From viticulture to farming in general, Finland lost around 40% of all crops in 2017 due to too much rainfall. This year the reason for loss of crop has been excess drought, which will affect the prices of for instance bread. Farmers in Finland have for long already been dependent upon EU subsidiaries, with farming overall being seen as a strategic necessity for a country like Finland. A strategic necessity despite of the fact that most food consumed in Finland is actually also being produced here, since population favors and prioritizes close production and domestic food production.
 
How have we come to a point where agriculture and food production are being treated as a strategic necessity and where industrialized food production damages both the environment, animals, and people?
 
Food as a basic necessity for survival, agriculture and food production should be valued more both in terms of environmental protection, animal protection and well-being and human well-being.
 
It is a shame that billions of tons of food is being thrown away and wasted each year worldwide, while certain states are being controlled or even controlling their population through withholding their citizens from receiving the very basic necessities for survival, such as fresh water and food, despite of the fact that our world produces an excess of food and that starving people to death is a matter of political manipulation worldwide.
 
Anne-Maria Yritys 16.9.2018
 
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WSET Advanced-diplomin suorittaneena ja WSET:n diplomiviinitutkinnon opiskelijana vuodesta 2007 kyllästyin Suomen alkoholipolitiikkaan ja Alkon viinien vähittäismyyntimonopoliin Suomessa. Käytin tuhansia euroja omia säästöjäni opiskelleksani tätä ohjelmaa, kunnes ymmärsin että huolimatta intohimostani viineihin ja viinien viljelyyn, maailmassamme riittää paljon suurempia ongelmia ratkottaviksi.
 
Viinien viljely on joka tapauksessa tärkeä perinne ja osa kulttuuria monissa maissa maailmanlaajuisesti, mutta nähtyäni kuinka haavoittuvainen koko ala on vuotuisille sääilmiöille ymmärsin, että ihmiskunta kohtaa paljon suurempia ongelmia ja että oma ammatillinen kutsumukseni on jossain ihan muualla kuin viinien markkinoinnin parissa maassa, jossa on alkoholijuomien vähittäismyyntimonopoli.
 
Opiskellessani viininviljelyä ja -tuotantoa opin ymmärtämään kuinka herkkiä paikalliset ja maailmanlaajuiset ekosysteemimme ovat, kun mikroilmastot vaikuttavat ylipäätään kaikkien maanviljelijöiden mahdollisuuksiin elättää itsensä maanviljelyllä. Viininviljelyssä, kuten kaikessa maanviljelyssä, markkinoita dominoivat tietty määrä suuria brändejä jotka ostavat suurimman osan sadosta pieniltä viljelijöiltä osuuskuntien kautta. Ilman näitä osuuskuntia monet pienet maan- tai viininviljelijät eivät selviäisi taloudellisesti hengissä.
 
Olen vieraillut monilla viinitiloilla ja -alueilla elämäni aikana, ml. suurin osa Ranskan viinitiloista, Unkari ja Pohjois-Italia. Lokakuussa 2010 vierailin Napa ja Sonoma-laaksoissa Kaliforniassa. 2010 oli katastrofaalisen huono vuosi Kalifornian viininviljelijöille johtuen runsaista sateista, jotka pilasivat suurimman osan sadosta.
 
Viininviljelystä maanviljelyyn yleisesti, Suomi menetti noin 40% kaikesta sadosta vuonna 2017 runsaiden sateiden vuoksi. Tänä vuonna liika kuivuus on pilannut suuren osan sadoista, mikä tulee vaikuttamaan esimerkiksi leivän hintaan. Suomessa maanviljelijät ovat jo pitkään olleet riippuvaisia EU-tuista, kun Suomen valtio pitää maanviljelyä yleisesti strategisena pakkona Suomen kaltaisessa maassa. Strateginen pakko siitäkin huolimatta, että itse asiassa suurin osa Suomessa kulutetuista elintarvikkeista myös valmistetaan täällä, koska Suomen väestö priorisoi lähituotantoa ja kotimaista ruoantuotantoa.
 
Miten olemme päätyneet tilanteeseen, jossa maanviljelyä ja ruoantuotantoa käsitellään valtion tasolla strategisena välttämättömyytenä kun teollinen ruokatuotanto vahingoittaa niin ympäristöä, eläimiä kuin ihmisiä?
 
Ruokaa välttämättömänä pakkona hengissä säilymiselle, maanviljelyä ja ruoan tuotantoa pitäisi arvostaa enemmän joka suhteessa, huomioiden niin ympäristön, eläinten ja ihmisten hyvinvointi.
 
On häpeä, että miljardeja tonneja ruokaa heitetään pois ja tuhlataan vuosittain maailmanlaajuisesti, kun tietyt valtiot kontrolloivat (tai niitä kontrolloidaan) väestöään pidättämällä heiltä mahdollisuuden saada edes välttämättömiä elintarvikkeita ja puhdasta vettä säilyäkseen hengissä huolimatta siitä, että maailmassa tuotetaan koko ajan niin paljon elintarvikkeita ja ruokaa, että niillä elättäisi ainakin 10 miljardia ihmistä (maailman väestömäärä on tällä hetkellä reilut 7 miljardia).
 
Ihmisten näännyttämisessä nälkään on kyseessä tahallinen ihmisten poliittinen manipulointi.
 
Anne-Maria Yritys 16.9.2018

Agricultural Manure and Global Methane Emissions

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While enteric fermentation alone accounts for around a third of all anthropogenic methane emissions worldwide, agricultural manure accounts for another four per cent (4%), according to statistics published by GMI, the Global Methane Initiative, in 2010. In one of my previous posts, Enteric Fermentation Largest Single Source of Global Methane Emissions, I have discussed enteric fermentation and its role in global methane emissions. Unless familiar with greenhouse gas emissions and anthropogenic climate change, one may be surprised at the fact that animal farming is the major cause for human-caused methane emissions worldwide.

Will this be the beginning of the end of animal farming? In order to gain a broader view upon agriculture and animal farming, it may be beneficial to learn about and to understand the beginning and the history of both agriculture and animal farming, along with how these have developed in the past thousands and hundreds of years, up to the past century, the past decades, current developments and future trends. Although animal farming, the domestication and breeding of animals, and agriculture have been present for centuries already, there are differences between cultures, geographies and techniques. Agricultural science, according to for instance National Geography Society, has taken rapid leaps in productivity in the past decades because new sources of energy and power.

Today, in a world where much of animal farming has been industrialized, the ethics of animal farming is being questioned by a growing amount of people. While many animal farmers are struggling in order to make their business lucrative, or even to make ends meet, millions of people worldwide are against animal farming, finding animal farming the worst crime in history as stated in The Guardian´s article from September 25th, 2015: Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history.

While having no trouble buying meat products in supermarkets, many people today are in fact completely completely estranged with the reality of animal farming. If people were to see what actually takes place on many animal farms, their perceptions would perhaps change, or at least be impacted. For instance in Finland, currently almost half of human excrement today ends up as fertilizers in the agricultural sector, something that is strongly opposed by the food industry. There are of course restrictions both in Finland and in the European Union for the amounts of organic matters that may be legally used as fertilizers for growing crops. Nevertheless, the food industry is worried that traces of drugs, medicines, and even plastics may end up as fertilizers. Now imagine that animals are being fed with crops grown on lands where human excrement is being used as a fertilizer. Ultimately, this is a cycle where we end up consuming and eating everything that we so to say put out there. The more toxins at hand in our atmosphere, the more toxins in our soils, and in our bodies.

Methane emissions from enteric fermentation are significant, and these have an impact on our environment, our climate, and on ourselves. Although it is impossible to stop animal farming, there are ways of improving and affecting the amount of methane emissions being released through animal farming and enteric fermentation. Many consumers today also choose to leave away animal products from their lives (vegans). Others choose to buy organically produced animal products. We can all make an impact: as consumers, as farmers, and as policy-makers. There is not one single stakeholder in the supply chain that could not influence the future of animal farming, and the agricultural industry.

Learn more by watching Fertcare´s video “Managing nitrious oxide emissions from soil & fertilizer”:

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

 

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Climate Change Major Risk To Food And Nutrition Stability

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“FAO Strategy on Climate Change. Rome, July 2017. The risks to food and nutrition stability are aggravated by the expected increase of the frequency and intensity of climate-related events.”

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What kinds of climate-related events can you think of in your own living environment in the (recent) past that affected food (or, even fresh water) stability? Everyone who is consuming media products (i.e. reading/watching) news either in printed versions or digitally, has certainly become aware of a number of climate-related natural events, if not globally, at least locally. I have personally noticed that climate change-related news (broadcasting) has increased in the past years. To some extent, I maybe notice climate-related news since I am personally interested in the topic, but it certainly is not only a subjective perception. Perhaps, at this very moment, someone is conducting research upon the topic, or at least it could be a possible topic for research, especially since news are always to some extent locally tailored, and we do cannot read/watch everything on the news what is happening worldwide (unless we specifically do research upon a specific topic/geographical area).

Following article, published in PNAS vol. 114 no. 19 (Diffenbaugh, N.S., Singh, D., Mankin, J.S., Horton, D.E. & al.), presents research findings from a group of Earth System scientists through observations and a climate model ensemble: Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events

Due to heavy rainfall in Finland this year, and in autumn 2017, we lost 40% of total crop yields this year, whereby farmers affected are obliged to seek financial aid from the state and from the European Union. However, according to LUKE – Natural Resources Institute Finland, 2/3 (around 67%) of ALL grain produced in Finland every year is used to feed animals. This signifies that majority of all grain produced goes to feed animals that end up being eaten by us consumers (human beings).

Does this make any sense at all? What do you think? Looking forward to any comments/thoughts on the topic.

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

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Agriculture & Food Sectors Responsible For Climate Change

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“FAO Strategy on Climate Change. Rome, July 2017. The food and agricultural sectors are central for human development; they need to be at the centre of the global response to climate change.”

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The agricultural, farming and food sector being due to a large part responsible for anthropogenic climate change, it is a requisite for these to take urgent action in terms of transformation into sustainable development.

Sustainable practices within agriculture, farming and food production include:

  • Using ethical and sustainable practices throughout the whole process, especially taking into consideration soil management and production processes.
  • Keeping in mind the future, considering completely different/new options, i.e. changing into more climate resistant varieties and/or innovating completely new solutions.
  • The availability of a sufficient amount of information to the public about sustainable practices and the food sector in general to ensure that awareness is increased and that people have access to climate change education.

Note from author: Here in Finland, INSECTS are soon to find their way to grocery shelves. In future, those who are not either e.g. vegetarian or vegan, may well include fried grasshoppers into their regular dietary plan. In fact, insects are commonly eaten almost everywhere in the world, except for Europe and the USA.

Watch TEDx Nagoya University – Sustainable Food – Let´s Start a Revolution!, speech Gerardo Urbina:

 

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Is Agriculture Responsible For Climate Change?

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“FAO Strategy on Climate Change. Rome, July 2017. Agriculture and food systems are partly responsible for increased temperatures but are also a fundamental part of the solution to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and promote adaptation to a changing climate.”

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Agriculture, being the third largest industry in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, is partly responsible for climate change. Especially animal farming, including all dairy and meat products, which is part of the truth to why so many people today change their lifestyles completely, turning into either vegetarians or vegans (the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan is simply that in addition to not consuming any meat, vegans also do not consume ANY kinds of dairy products, i.e. products stemming from animals, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Even in wine production, egg white is sometimes used in the production process of wine clarification, so vegans are extremely careful about their diets.

According to many dietitians, eating less red meat is also part of a healthy diet. And, of course, consuming more plant-based products, such as fruits and vegetables. Of course no one can be forced into changing their current diet due to climate change. Everyone has their own preferences, but taking into consideration one´s health and overall well-being, it is extremely important to find a suitable balance in how and what to consume.

If you want to be climate-friendly in terms of agriculture/farming and eating habits, in addition to taking better care of your personal health and well-being, here are some useful tips:

  • Check your drinking and eating habits, e.g. by starting to use a food diary (even for a week or for a month). List everything that you eat, including snacks, sweets, and drinks.
  • Drink more fresh water. It is very beneficial for your overall health, and will help you feel less hungry.
  • Make sure to eat at regular hours. It is very important in order to keep e.g. your sugar levels stable.
  • Consume more fresh products, such as fruits, salads and vegetables. In addition to making you feel more energized, you can basically eat as much of these without gaining weight.
  • Consume as much local products as possible, whereby you are not only helping local farmers and businesses, but you can also more easily check/learn about the production methods. Also try to consume fresh products according to season, if you have changes in season where you live.
  • Become interested in how and what you consume. Care about what you eat, and how it makes you feel. If you constantly feel tired, gain weight etc., there may be something wrong with your diet. Also make sure to eat enough, it can be equally harmful to your health to eat too little.
  • Try to always have enough time for eating, i.e. by slowing down your eating habits. Appreciate the food you consume.

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

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No Food Without Tackling Climate Change, Reports FAO

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“FAO Strategy on Climate Change. Rome, July 2017. There will be no food without tackling climate change.”

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Sounds pretty nasty, right? Read FAO´s updated strategy here:

FAO Strategy on Climate Change/Rome, July 2017

Excerpts from the report:

  • Agriculture and food systems partly responsible for increase in global temperatures due to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through agricultural/farming practices around the world.
  • A global transformation to sustainable agriculture must commence at once since the effects of climate change worldwide increase and intensify.
  • The agricultural and food sectors are at high risk, facing serious challenges in adapting to climate change.
  • The negative impacts of climate change will affect ALL countries, although most severely in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in addition to areas with especially vulnerable ecosystems.
  • Climate change endangers food security through: food availability, food access, food utilization, and food stability.
  • The number of crop varieties around the world has decreased dramatically during the 20th century.
  • According to predictions, climate change may become the main driver of biodiversity loss, including loss of genetic diversity.
  • For each one degree rise in global surface temperatures, around 7% of worldwide population is projected an exposure of at least 20% less renewable water resources.
  • Agriculture currently accounts for around 70% of worldwide water withdrawals.

 

Watch FAO´s Climate change mitigation in the livestock sector: overall potential, options and case studies:

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Global food security

The impact of climate change on agriculture could result in problems with food security. ~ Ian Pearson

#GCC @GCCThinkActTank