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Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

el campesino
In the land of humongous farms, the critical importance of small farms for food security is a counterintuitive message. But if we look at what most of the largest farms are growing in the U.S. Midwest, or Argentina and Brazil, it is corn and soybeans to feed livestock and biofuel production. Neither contribute much to supplying food—and especially good nutrition—to the billions who cannot afford meat. Meat is a welcome part of many diets, but besides being expensive, is also an inefficient means to produce protein.

Mark Bittman, in a recent article, cites the Etc. Group, which notes that small peasant farms feed about 70 percent of of the global population.
Producing enough food is a necessary, but not nearly sufficient, condition for alleviating hunger. Even though we produce enough food now, 1 billion go hungry. India has more malnourished people than any other country, yet exports food. Well of course, you may say, there are so many more small farms, it is not surprising that they feed more people than large farms do.

But small farms also tend to produce more per acre than large farms. There has long been debate about this among economists and development scholars. It has perplexed many of them—so much so they have given it a name, “the inverse relationship,” meaning that if graphed, productivity per unit of land goes down rather than up with increasing size.

Read the whole article by Doug Gurian-Sherman here http://blog.ucsusa.org/small-farmers-not-monsanto-are-key-to-global-food-security-272


 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

Peter Yang photo
José Urbina López Primary School sits next to a dump just across the US border in Mexico. The school serves residents of Matamoros, a dusty, sunbaked city of 489,000 that is a flash point in the war on drugs. There are regular shoot-outs, and it’s not uncommon for locals to find bodies scattered in the street in the morning. To get to the school, students walk along a white dirt road that parallels a fetid canal. On a recent morning there was a 1940s-era tractor, a decaying boat in a ditch, and a herd of goats nibbling gray strands of grass. A cinder-block barrier separates the school from a wasteland—the far end of which is a mound of trash that grew so big, it was finally closed down. Some people here call the school un lugar de castigo—”a place of punishment.”

For five years, he had stood in front of students and worked his way through the government-mandated curriculum. It was mind-numbingly boring for him and the students, and he’d come to the conclusion that it was a waste of time. Test scores were poor, and even the students who did well weren’t truly engaged. Something had to change.

He too had grown up beside a garbage dump in Matamoros, and he had become a teacher to help kids learn enough to make something more of their lives. So in 2011 Juárez Correa decided to start experimenting. He began reading books and searching for ideas online. Soon he stumbled on a video describing the work of Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University in the UK. In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, Mitra conducted experiments in which he gave children in India access to computers. Without any instruction, they were able to teach themselves a surprising variety of things, from DNA replication to English.

Juárez Correa didn’t know it yet, but he had happened on an emerging educational philosophy, one that applies the logic of the digital age to the classroom. That logic is inexorable: Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.

At home in Matamoros, Juárez Correa found himself utterly absorbed by these ideas. And the more he learned, the more excited he became. On August 21, 2011 at the start of the school year he walked into his classroom and pulled the battered wooden desks into small groups. When Paloma and the other students filed in, they looked confused. Juárez Correa invited them to take a seat and then sat down with them.

He started by telling them that there were kids in other parts of the world who could memorize pi to hundreds of decimal points. They could write symphonies and build robots and airplanes. Most people wouldn’t think that the students at José Urbina López could do those kinds of things. Kids just across the border in Brownsville, Texas, had laptops, high-speed Internet, and tutoring, while in Matamoros the students had intermittent electricity, few computers, limited Internet, and sometimes not enough to eat.

“But you do have one thing that makes you the equal of any kid in the world,” Juárez Correa said. “Potential.”

He looked around the room. “And from now on,” he told them, “we’re going to use that potential to make you the best students in the world.” Over the next nine months, the students' experience of school would be rewritten, tapping into an array of educational innovations from around the world and vaulting them to the top of the math and language rankings in Mexico.


 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

A portrait of photographer Aaron Huey's work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Featuring Shepard Fairey.


 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

What should you be afraid of?

 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

slaves to sugar

Columbus planted the New World’s first sugarcane in Hispaniola, the site, not coincidentally, of the great slave revolt a few hundred years later. Within decades mills marked the heights in Jamaica and Cuba, where rain forest had been cleared and the native population eliminated by disease or war, or enslaved. The Portuguese created the most effective model, making Brazil into an early boom colony, with more than 100,000 slaves churning out tons of sugar.

As more cane was planted, the price of the product fell. As the price fell, demand increased. Economists call it a virtuous cycle—not a phrase you would use if you happened to be on the wrong side of the equation. In the mid-17th century sugar began to change from a luxury spice, classed with nutmeg and cardamom, to a staple, first for the middle class, then for the poor.

By the 18th century the marriage of sugar and slavery was complete. Every few years a new island—Puerto Rico, Trinidad—was colonized, cleared, and planted. When the natives died, the planters replaced them with African slaves. After the crop was harvested and milled, it was piled in the holds of ships and carried to London, Amsterdam, Paris, where it was traded for finished goods, which were brought to the west coast of Africa and traded for more slaves. The bloody side of this “triangular trade,” during which millions of Africans died, was known as the Middle Passage. Until the slave trade was banned in Britain in 1807, more than 11 million Africans were shipped to the New World—more than half ending up on sugar plantations. According to Trinidadian politician and historian Eric Williams, “Slavery was not born of racism; rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.” Africans, in other words, were not enslaved because they were seen as inferior; they were seen as inferior to justify the enslavement required for the prosperity of the early sugar trade.

The original British sugar island was Barbados. Deserted when a British captain found it on May 14, 1625, the island was soon filled with grinding mills, plantation houses, and shanties. Tobacco and cotton were grown in the early years, but cane quickly overtook the island, as it did wherever it was planted in the Caribbean. Within a century the fields were depleted, the water table sapped. By then the most ambitious planters had left Barbados in search of the next island to exploit. By 1720 Jamaica had captured the sugar crown.

For an African, life on these islands was hell. Throughout the Caribbean millions died in the fields and pressing houses or while trying to escape.  A slave in Voltaire’s Candide, missing both a hand and a leg, explains his mutilation: “When we work in the sugar mills and we catch our finger in the millstone, they cut off our hand; when we try to run away, they cut off a leg; both things have happened to me. It is at this price that you eat sugar in Europe.”

And yet there was no stopping the boom. Sugar was the oil of its day. The more you tasted, the more you wanted. In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. By Rich Cohen National Geographic

 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

conflict minerals

"The minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo." Photograph by Marcus Bleasdale

Read the whoel article by Jeffrey Gettleman http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/conflict-minerals/gettleman-text


 
Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society


 

 

 
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