Date of this Version
Cornhusker Economics, July 26, 2000, agecon.unl.edu/cornhuskereconomics
About a year ago a French farmer proclaimed, while he checked himself into jail for his part in vandalizing a new McDonald’s restaurant, “My struggle remains the same . . . the battle against globalization, and for the right of people to feed themselves as they choose'' (New York Times, August 29, 1999). Such protests reflect even more fundamental underlying concerns for food produced in ways not always meeting higher level needs, e.g., not satisfying the cultural needs for the French, a country in which the event of a meal is often just as important as the food itself. The concept of “fast food” does not fit well. In addition, again Europe, we see rejection of the genetically modified organisms being introduced into the food supply. We also experienced first hand, through our home television sets the protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization in the Seattle riots. These organizations are seen by some as threats to local choice. We also seem to be experiencing, at more fundamental levels, perhaps excessive industrial concentration; decline in rural communities; and oft times polluted environments. No wonder, then, that we sometimes see a sense of gloom in the food system and especially among farm/ranch youth and students who might otherwise pursue food system careers.