Food Crisis. Biases in Research. Wal Mart Sucks.

Posted on May 30, 2011


BBC has an article about how food prices will double unless the industry is changed.

“We are sleepwalking towards an avoidable age of crisis,” said Ms Stocking.

Food Revolution, anyone?  What’s sad is that I think people (who actually have power)  in the first world will start to pay attention to the global food crisis only when it affects their pocket books. Nevermind that while American’s are the fattest most gluttonous people and are always trying these fad diets to lose weight (instead of learning how to have a healthy and balanced relationship with food) millions of people are starving.  Now, I’m not normally one to believe modeling our future after our past is a good idea, but I think when it comes to food, it might not be such a bad thing.  Imagine if communities had enough food for themselves.  That doesn’t mean we have to live in villages (though in the Bay Area, BART transit villages are popping up, and i think that has interesting implications for our future).   I don’t know. I don’t know much about the food crisis we’re in, i’m only vaguely educated.  But these are my musings. I look forward to becoming more engaged and educated in this particular struggle.

Then there’s this video at Ethecofem. I originally saw it as a tweet from @AprilStreich that said “Video of the Day – I haven’t even watched this yet, but I’m sure I disagree with it edition”.  I tried to watch it.  I got to about 1:25 (it’s 10 min) and I already had to stop it.  This guy starts talking about how some researchers in the social science field push their biases, beliefs and world views into their research.  As if any research is neutral! I would like to take this opportunity to point out the invisible norm that assumes certain aspects of this life are free from bias. As if our society has no history and exists in a vacuum.  It’s the same kind of thinking that assumes some judges or justices are neutral and others (who are democrats or progressive or support anything outside of the conservative agenda, really) are “radical activist judges” who push their beliefs into the court system.  Kind of ridiculous. SO yeah, after hearing that I just had to stop because I knew it would ruffle my feathers more than I’d like to get ruffled right now. On a side note, at least he sounded respectful (a little.. snooty perhaps) and capable of having a decent conversation across differences.  I’d love to get the chance to discuss with him his thoughts on how no research is free from biases.

Wal-Mart is facing more pressure.  And believe it or not this time it doesn’t have to do with oppressing women (at least if you take it at surface value… i am fairly certain if you got to the bottom of it, it would also have a lot to do with exploiting women and children).  They are being called on to have standards for their global suppliers:

Michael Garland, who oversees shareholder activism efforts as executive director for corporate governance at the city comptroller’s office, said the proposal was meant to improve workplace safety and worker rights at companies making goods for Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

“No matter how much Wal-Mart and other companies are doing, or claim they are doing, to monitor their suppliers, they just don’t have the capacity to do it in a comprehensive way,” Mr. Garland said. “They put tremendous pressure on their suppliers to cut money out of the system,” which can lead to long hours, low pay or other problems.

Wal-Mart opposes the request, citing the difficulty of persuading suppliers to issue reports. The company contends that even if it could enforce such a plan, to do so might threaten the availability of certain products from those who did not comply

soooo the world’s LARGETS RETAILER wants to continue exploiting people in other countries in order to make available to the “haves” cheap “goods”.  First of all, they have a lot of power and could force their suppliers to comply if they really wanted to. Or, here’s another idea, if the cost of buying the goods increases because they’re no longer exploiting the shit out of people, they could absorb that cost at first until it balances out again.  They are the world’s LARGEST RETAILER. I don’t think it would break them or put them out of business.  Oh, here’s another idea, how about people refuse to shop in a place that is in business because they exploit the shit out of people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  What does it say that we don’t give two shits that Wal-Mart’s prices are so good because of outsourcing labor to places where they can pay workers less, make them work longer and in poor conditions and paying their employees so little.  Do we think they keep their prices so low because they care about the consumers? NO. They do it because of how much they are profiting. I hate Wal Mart (which was bred from capitalism). with a deep seated passion. And it takes a lot to elicit that kind of response from me.