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Home Columns Jewish on Earth Tu b’Shevat and the environment

Tu b’Shevat and the environment

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It’s cheaper to buy local, organic foods than industrially produced ones — except the savings are invisible.  Invisible, that is, to anyone who doesn’t buy, handle or grow them.  Local and organic was all our ancestors ever knew — even up to our grandparents’ time.

Then came farming’s “Green Revolution” of the 1950s, with “miracle” chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and “factory” farming.  And with it, a host of hidden costs that you don’t pay with local, organic foods.

This Tu b’Shvat, let’s celebrate those savings:

• no costs for air, land and water pollution, or soil erosion;

• no costs for food-borne illnesses and health care system burdens;

• no costs for feeding antibiotics to fish and animals, nor for antibiotic resistance in animals and humans;

• no taxpayer subsidies to agribusiness, fossil fuel, drug and water industries; and

• no reduced nutrition levels in fruits and vegetables.

So, what make these cost ?savings “invisible”?

First, the agribusiness, water, drug and fossil fuel industries hide them on their balance sheets, which makes their operations look more profitable.

They simply don’t account for the costs of soil erosion, pollution cleanup, accidents and illnesses, food recalls, nutrition losses or human antibiotic resistance — until an incident occurs that they must pay for.

The rest of this article is available in the IJN's print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:41 )  

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