Jan 13

EconTalk Podcast on Organic Farming

Last month, Russ Roberts interviewed organic farmer Lisa Turner for EconTalk. Mrs. Turner is a civil engineer, and she and her husband are the owners of Laughing Stock Farm in Maine. Laughing Stock Farm sells to restaurants as well as to individuals through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) scheme and at farmers markets.

The conversation covers everything from the socialist aspects of CSAs to capitalism, and from a typical day in the life of Mrs. Turner to the federal government’s grab of the organic label in the early 2000s.

I have learned a lot while listening to it, and a lot of this might eventually inform my lecture on local and organic agriculture in my food policy seminar.

You can download or stream the hour-long podcast by clicking here.

HT: Jayson Lusk.

Jan 13

Biofuels and Food Security in Guatemala

Recent laws in the United States and Europe that mandate the increasing use of biofuel in cars have had far-flung ripple effects, economists say, as land once devoted to growing food for humans is now sometimes more profitably used for churning out vehicle fuel.

In a globalized world, the expansion of the biofuels industry has contributed to spikes in food prices and a shortage of land for food-based agriculture in poor corners of Asia, Africa and Latin America because the raw material is grown wherever it is cheapest.

Nowhere, perhaps, is that squeeze more obvious than in Guatemala, which is “getting hit from both sides of the Atlantic,” in its fields and at its markets, said Timothy Wise, a Tufts University development expert who is studying the problem globally with Actionaid, a policy group based in Washington that focuses on poverty. Continue reading →

Nov 12

Food Prices, Meat Consumption, and Paternalism

I took part it a Triangle Institute for Security Studies event at NC State last week on the theme of “Energy and Security,” where I briefly discussed my work on food prices and social unrest.

At the end of my talk, I mentioned a few policy options that global policy makers could pursue if they want to keep food prices down: Continue reading →