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Stakes in the Cash-For-Food Economy Go Up

Touch the Soil News #764 (urban food poster courtesy of Keep Growing Detroit)

The world continues to move away from its historical roots in the countryside and into cities. As billions of people converge in the cityscapes of the world, they become almost 100 percent tied to the cash-for-food economic system. In decades past, rural folks still had a chance to partially circumvent the cash economy by growing some food.

Cash is invoked by a financial system known for mischief and volatility. To complicate matters, cash is distributed sparingly, often through low pay jobs at companies that see labor as an expense to be constantly downsized.

It is estimated that within the next 8 years, up to 85 percent of the world’s population will live in cities (over 7 billion people). While food production has always been associated with the rural environment, it is not a given that the rural environment will always be able to, in conjunction with the cash economy, feed everyone in the cities. In the U.S., for example, poverty rates in cities can range from 25 to 35 percent of the population. Detroit, America’s most poverty stricken city has 48 percent of the population earning under $25,000. Yet, Detroit is one of the most visible cities in the nation where urban agriculture is gaining traction and municipal support for growing food in the city.

Studies by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of 15 different countries shows that urban agriculture is already a critical piece of urban food security, dietary diversity and adequate nutrition.

With most of the global organic waste generated in cities, the growing presence of urban agriculture to recycle that waste is becoming a larger part of battling climate change. While food from urban farms often comes with a price outside of what the urban poor can afford, it drives a movement that is clearly focused on a non-cash (or minimal cash) urban farming movement.

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