Eating Anxiously:

            Eating Anxiously:

        Two days ago, millions of Americans gathered around the table, eating all of the food that they were able. What did most of these Americans have common? Each participated in the act of overconsumption. An Associate Professor in the Departments of of Political Science and the Alliance of Social, Political, Ethical, and Social Thought at Virginia Tech, published a book about the politics of obesity in 2013. Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics was written by Dr. Chad Lavin and published by the University of Minnesota Press less than a year ago. Within his work, Dr. Lavin’s empirical claim is that the current sense of powerlessness, held by the majority of the American populace, is in many ways expressed through the act of consumption (eating). Lavin uses Marxist theory, utilizing a historical materialist methodology, in order to trace the evolutionary history of consumption. The publication’s purpose is to identify such anxieties as a source of gridlock; Lavin’s contributions to the scholarly conversation on food politics, targets an audience in all discourses of food, though writing from a  political and philosophical perspective.

Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics

Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics

Form the onset of Lavin’s work, diet is identified as a form of ideology. As Lavin states in Chapter 1, “diets as ideology, [are] frameworks [for humans to identify] the operation of their own bodies, and the functioning of systems of value and mobility more generally, (Lavin, 2).” In order to trace the emergence of such ideology, Lavin identifies three historical stages in the evolutionary history of consumption. The first stage is the metabolic stage that existed prior to the Great Depression, during the early years of the twentieth century. During the metabolic stage, the body was identified as a machine; the perfect diet consisted of a precise amount of energy needed to keep the body moving efficiently without overwhelming it with surplus. Following the Great Depression, the second stage of consumption, the psychological stage emerged. Throughout this paradigm, humans worked to manage their desire by  eating and exercising a great deal of self-control over their consumption. The third and final stage identified by Lavin is the hormonal stage that developed during the 1990s. Throughout this paradigm, the key to responsible consumption was to regulate the messages that the brain received from the food that the body would consume. The idea was to regulate the body’s hormones so that energy was prevented from being stored.

lavin

Dr. Chad Lavin is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Alliance of Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought at Virginia Tech.

You are what you eat; this is a theoretical claim Lavin asserts throughout much of his work. Within Chapter 2, Lavin argues that the transformations of the twentieth century made it convenient to eat alone, while the transformations of the seventeenth century made it desirable. As Lavin contends, “What is less well rehearsed is how the enclosures of land and the privatization of space entailed the privatization of bodily functions, with both legal and social codes growing intolerant of public recognition of the metabolic operations of the human body,” (Lavin, 24). Digestion according to Lavin, is the incorporation of the world into the self; and when self-mixes with the world, the world become the self. The privatization of food is identified as a retreat into the private sphere, a sphere that characterizes the development of modern liberalism. In Chapter 3, Lavin argues that the stomach and intestines, being the site of ingestion, incorporation, and excretion, are humans most significant means to encounter the external world. Eating is but one-way of assimilating the world into the self; the act of digestion. Excretion is the process by which humans understand their dependence on subjects and abandon their struggle against material objects. The body is a thermodynamic machine; it is displaces energy in work and renews itself through nutrition. As Lavin claims, “In digestion, food is cancelled (as object), preserved (as energy), and sublated (as tissue),” (Lavin, 56).

Major Williams Hall: The Department of Political Science at Virgina Tech.

Major Williams Hall: The Department of Political Science at Virgina Tech.

The last three chapters of Lavin’s work are less theoretical and more empirical. In Chapter 4, Lavin argues that obesity is a result of broad anxieties about political life interconnected with the Age of Globalization. According to Lavin’s analysis we live in a toxic food environment; industries work to cultivate, subsidize, process, market, and distribute foods in order to maximize profit. Despite this, humans who wish to blame corporate forces create a false dichotomy among those who take personal responsibility for eating and those who blame corporate interests. It is this dichotomy that distracts consumers from the inherent problems essential to the discussion on the politics of obesity. As Lavin argues, “[there is a] tremendous resonance with a politics of personal responsibility and decline in faith of the institutions charged with governance and public health,” (Lavin, 90). In regards to personal responsibility, there are two discourses of eating politically. The first is the Locavore, who eats food produced within a hundred miles of their home, in order to protest against resource squandering present in the storage and transportation of food. The second discourse is the organic movement, those who eat foods that purge modern eaters of the dirty things placed within their bodies; a symbol of food purity. In identifying this distinction, Lavin explains, “Put another way, organics is animated by concerns over purity, locals by efficiency,” (Lavin, 98). Finally, Lavin describes a three-tier hierarchy. The sub-human cannibal who violates the universal moral code, the average American consumer, and the Vegetarian or super human who has mastered the human appetite and transcended America’s political culture.

Food Politics & Political Theory

Food Politics & Political Theory

As a student of Dr. Lavin, a graduate scholar, and a friend, I certainly doubted the combination of political theory and food politics from the onset of Eating Anxiety. Despite this conception, there are empirical claims that can be extracted from Lavin’s work. Lavin’s argument is found in the last sentence of his conclusion. As he admits, “But given that Americans largely distrust both Big Food and the institutions charged with regulating it, perhaps it is time to admit that savoring democracy requires confronting rather than fleeing from the sources of anxiety,” (Lavin, 154). Undergoing a historical materialism methodology, Lavin works as a political theorist, formulating his theoretical claims. His purpose, to identify the sense of powerlessness among our nation’s citizenry, is expressed through the act of eating. Targeted towards all scholars interested in the perils of food politics, Lavin identifies obesity and overconsumption as a serious health concern, blurred by a false dichotomy created within America’s current political culture.

The Eater’s Manifesto

The Eater’s Manifesto: In Defense of Food:

            In 2008 Michael Pollan published In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto as a sequel to his previous New York Time’s Bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. As Pollan contends in the introduction of his manifesto, “I started on this quest to identify a few simple rules about eating after publishing The Omnivore’s Dilemma in 2006,” (Pollan, 2). The argument of Pollan’s book is rather transparent, located on the cover of the manuscript: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Tracing this contention from the Age of Nutritionism through the development of the western diet and the emergence of common dietary diseases of civilization, and ending with the future of nutritionism, Pollan’s story is well told if nothing else.

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In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

The first part of Pollan’s manifesto describes the modern Age of Nutritionism. As he explains, “As I argue in part one, most of the nutritional advice we’ve received over the last half century (and in particular the advice to replace fats in our diets with carbohydrates) has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter,” (Pollan, 7). According to Pollan’s analysis, nutritionism not only favors new kinds of highly processed foods, but also incorporates the government and the medical establishment in the promotion of such foods. The Age of Nutritionism does little for a consumer society according to Pollan; rather it creates an anxiety around the experience of both shopping for food and consuming it at the table. In many ways, the development and spread of nutrition science has hindered the development of America’s food culture and the enjoyment resulting from the act of consumption. The science of nutrition is deductive; this field of research studies one nutrient at a time, a methodological approach that is clearly flawed. As Pollan ends this section, he asserts “Thirty years of nutritional advice have left us fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished, “(Pollan, 81).

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Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The second part of Pollan’s manifesto is divided into two sections: the western diet and the diseases of civilization. The central argument of this section is that the chronic disease that result in the death of many Americans each year, is directly correlated with the industrialization of our nation’s food. As Pollan explores, “What we know is that people who eat the way we do in the West today suffer substantially higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity than people eating any number of different traditional diets,” (Pollan, 90). In short, chronic disease is a result of the Western diet, and the industrialization of our nation’s food is taking a toll on our citizen’s health. The industrialization of  America’s food system has created an ecological crisis, breaking the circular flow of nutrients through the natural food chain. Ending his chapter, Pollan gives five pieces of advice: eat whole food rather than refined, eat simple food rather than complex, eat food grown for its quality rather than its quantity, focus on crops that produce seeds rather than simply leaves, and Americanize our nation’s food culture rather than relying on food science.

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An Eater’s Manifesto

In the final section of Pollan’s work the escape route to overcoming the Age of Nutritionism is thoroughly outlined and  explained. As Pollan foreshadows, “In theory, nothing could be simpler: To escape the Western diet and the ideology of nutritionism, we have only to stop eating and thinking [this] way,” (Pollan, 142). The most important fact about Food according to Pollan “is not its nutrient content but its degree of processing,” (Pollan, 143). Pollan challenge’s his readers to explore three alternative options: [1] just eat food, [2] eat mostly plans, especially leaves, and [3] pay more money for better quality food and eat less of it. According to Pollan the alienation of food producers from consumers led to the emergence of food safety as a political issue, a direct result of the industrialization of our nation’s food system. In addition, the Industrial Revolution broke the relationship between man and nature; humans were no longer  ecological savages. According to one of Pollan’s few political claims, “Regulation is an imperfect substitute for the accountability, and trust, built into a market in which food producers meet the gaze of eaters and vice versa,” (Pollan, 161).

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Moving past the Age of Nutrtionism

Though Pollan tells a good story using a historical materialism methodology, it is evident that a lack of expertise in addressing the political processes of our nation’s food and its future, serves as a fatal flaw in Pollan’s training as a journalist. Despite this, Pollan’s argument is well supported with evidence and an extensive list of sources at the end of his work. As Michael Pollan explains, “True, as omnivores—creatures can eat just about everything nature has to offer and that in fact need to eat a wide variety of different things in order to stay healthy—the “What to eat” question is somewhat more complicated for us than it is for, say, cows,” (Pollan, 3). Pollan answers this question at the beginning of section three, “This book started out with seven words and three rules—‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’,” (Pollan, 146).

The Noble Forager

THE NOBLE FORAGER:

Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Known by Robert Paarlberg

After working with Dr.Thomas on designing this course, I chose Robert Paarlberg’s book Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, to serve as my course textbook. Over the last three weeks, I began reading the first three chapters on food production and population growth and the politics of high food prices. I soon learned that Paarlberg and I are not going to agree on many of the issues discussed within his text. Despite this, I was able to draw upon several comparative themes between Paarlberg’s first three chapters and the information I was reading as I finished the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Over the past few weeks I have been questioned extensively when describing my summer course on food politics. Most people stop, look at me puzzled, and then are amazed that such course is being offered or ask what the hell food politics is. After reading Paarlberg’s first chapter he defines food politics as, “[the] struggles over how the risks and gains from state action are allocated within the food and farming sector, (Paarlberg, 2). Additionally, Paarlberg contends of a new political dynamic known as the food movement. It is this movement according to Paarlberg that wishes to bring alternative food preferences into the mainstream political spotlight. Beginning with restrictions on exports in 2006-2007, food prices entered the international community’s political agenda. Despite this issue, Paarlberg contends that “[the] world remains divided into many separate and diverse national or even local food systems, (Paarlberg, 4). Unlike scholars in other academic disciplines, food is best analyzed and evaluated on a local scale. The politics is interconnected when advocates for consumers desire low food prices, while advocates of farmers continue to desire high food prices. Thomas Malthus, an English economist, was concerned that agriculture could not keep pace with human fertility. Despite this, individuals today are better fed and live longer than their Malthusian ancestors. In addition, recent statistics show that, “fertility [is] dropping sharply, even as food production continues a rapid increase,” (Paarlberg, 12). Though the future will remain uncertain, it appears that Malthus’ theory has been disproven at this point in history.

A Natural History of Four Meals

Changing from Paarlberg to Pollan, it is interesting to note that many of the issues, which Pollan addresses, are a domestic rather than international concern. In the last part of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan discusses the possibility of reverting back to a hunting-gathering society. Pollan is quick to assert, “So though hunter-gather food chain still exists here and there to one degree or another, it seems to me its chief value for us at this point is not so much economic or practical as it is didactic, (Pollan, 280). Pollan contends that even if society wanted to go back to being a hunting-gathering society, it is not possible. There are too many humans and not enough animals. With the birth of agriculture and the development of an agrarian society, population size would have to decrease substantially in order for Americans to have the ability to live solely off of the wilderness.

In describing his journey as a forager, Pollan describes how he began to see everything as a source of food within nature. He contends, “The blessing of the omnivore is that he can eat a great many different things in nature. The curse of the omnivore is when it comes to figuring out which of those things are safe to eat, he’s pretty much on his own,” (Pollan, 287). Humans (especially picky eaters like myself) suffer from neophobia, a sensible fear of ingesting anything new, and neophilia, a risk but necessary openness to new tastes. Michael Pollan goes to on to explain however; the evolutionary advantage of human’s taste. Humans have evolved in such a way that we are predisposed to like things that are sweet because they provide us with glucose and necessary energy whereas we tend to dislike bitter tastes an evolutionary mechanism that defends humans against toxins released by plants. Humans have also overcome many food safety concerns by cooking, digesting, and being disgusted by a variety of tastes, smells and sights.

Michael Pollan and Son

Pollan goes on to explain the ethics of hunting and gathering our own food, which is rather intriguing. The amount of pride a hunter takes in killing another animal is a rather dangerous state of mind. Michael Pollan suffered from this during the short amount of time he foraged, only feeling remorse after killing game and allowing some time to pass. Despite this, Pollan was able to eat the food in which he killed a necessary evil in which a carnivore must face. Though discussion is made regarding vegetarianism, Pollan too agrees that this is not an effective means to deal with our nation’s issues on food politics. Humans are omnivores for a reason and it is unnatural to exclude meat from our diets. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a natural history of four meals, was both thoughtful and engrossing like the New York Times promised it to be. It only furthered my ideology that the time for reform has come.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

A Trip to Deauville Farm

A Trip to Deauville Farm:

Michael Pollan contends, “Organic stood for everything that industrial was not, (Pollan,142). Throughout the second part of his book Pollan addresses three alternatives to large scale commercial agriculture: organic, industrial organic, and localism. The early organic movement, one of several tributaries of the counterculture and hippiedom, was absorbed into the mainstream political spotlight in the same way feminism, the gay liberation, and civil rights movement were absorbed throughout the sixties. Organic, as Pollan goes on to explain, sought to establish not only an alternative mode of production but also distribution and consumption. Pollan quotes Sir Albert Howard an English Agronomist who explained, “Artificial manures lead inevitably to artificial nutrition, artificial food, and artificial animals and finally to artificial men and women,” (Pollan, 148). The inspiration behind the organic movement was to find a way to feed ourselves while at the same time keeping in logic with nature. Establishing a food system that was ecological in nature, would only work when our food’s energy originated from the sun. Increased tilling, use of compost, spraying of approved organic agents, introduction of beneficial insects, and the addition of angiosperms into one’s garden are among the many alternative techniques employed by organic farmers. Among the many benefits of organic farming are: increased nourishment found in composted soils, a polyculture that leads to more productive plants, a polyculture that is less prone to disease, and the increased health of the soil, plant, animal, and human on the farms. Despite these pros, there are several cons to organic farming that Pollan addresses.

 

Organic Tomatoes w/ Drip Irrigation

Organic Tomatoes w/ Drip Irrigation

Among these problems are: organic products are expensive, organic farms require a great deal of energy, and organic farms only allow for seasonal production. As Pollan contends,”It would also be a mistake to assume that the word ‘organic’ on a label automatically signifies healthfulness, especially when the label appears on heavily processes and long-distance foods that have probably had much of their nutritional value, not to mention flavor, beaten out of them long before they arrive on our tables,” (Pollan, 182). These problems stem from a new farming practice Pollan terms, “industrial organic.” These farms are organic yet produce a large quantity of a single commodity that is then sold to a supermarket. Certainly better then processed food, this style of farming encourages the formation of a monoculture that leads to similar environmental implications as the large corn fields in the midwest. Additionally, farmers can label something as organic or pasture fed, yet the space available to such animals is extremely small, and in many ways just as confined as a concentrated animal feeding operation. It is for these reasons, I do not see organic as the answer to our future problems. Instead, I see subsistence agriculture and localism as the answer. The emergence of farmer’s markets and locally grown organic foods could be a solution to our industrial food system. As Pollan contends in the Omnivore’s Dilemma, having the ability to grow, raise, and then slaughter your own food better connects man with nature.

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Lettuce Lane

Like Pollan, I wanted to know what organic and localism was all about. Living in the Shenandoah Valley, I had heard about a nearby local farm located on Bryce Mountain in Bayse, Virginia. My friends Maggie and Julia, having met and became friends with Gail Rose, the owner, invited me to take a field trip back to the farm. From the very moment I arrived I was amazed, speechless in fact. Gail immediately taught me that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. All of her gardens were made of recyclable material and were blossoming full of vegetables. Among the techniques discussed above, Gail had used compost from her chickens in each of her gardens, was able to utilize the rainwater that run off of her roof as a source of irrigation, and used only organic approved pesticides when necessary. Gail was also working on installing a drip-irrigation system that would help to save water on her farm. While at Gail’s farm, I truly felt as if I was one with nature. Having never met someone who was so content with their life, Gail taught more than any book I could ever read about organic farming and mother nature. Below are some of the questions I asked Gail and some of the responses I received:

Vegetable Gardens-100% Recyclable Material

Vegetable Gardens-100% Recyclable Material

1.) First, I posed a question to Gail that Dr.Thomas has asked me last week regarding my blog post on corn. It was as follows: what would be the impact on the American food system if tomorrow the US government eliminated corn subsidies?’

The answer I received was rather simple. Gail quickly explained this question was moot. Gail was quick to contend that the politicians within this United States only allow for a select number of large corporations to rule over our nation’s food. Gail was quick to mention Monsanto and the amount of power they hold in our nation’s government and how our nation’s politicians are interconnected and bought off by these large corporations.

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Water Run Off System

2.) I asked her opinion regarding industrial organic…

Again, she was quick to argue that though these industries do not place harmful substances within our bodies this is not how ancient civilizations lived. Monocultures are not living one with nature. She agreed that localism combined with organic is necessary in order to solve our nation’s food problems.

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Gail’s Greenhouse

Sitting down with Gail for the rest of the afternoon, she taught me a lot about life. Gail, like most local organic farmers, can not compete with our nation’s industrial food system. Despite this she does one hell of a job at giving a hundred and one percent on Deauville Farm. Gail, asked that my friend Julia and I keep one thing in mind as we continue our studies in Political Science and Government. Education and an ideological shift is necessary in order to change the things that her generation for a lack of a better word, “fucked up.” Gail realizes that everything she does helps, but it is our generation that can really make a difference. Disappointed to leave yesterday, I made a promise I would be back to see Gail and visit Deauville Farm. I learned more in one day than I could ever read in an entire year’s worth of coursework. It is truly the experience as Pollan contends that will work to change our nations ways. Gail and I agreed, the time for reform had come.

For more information on Deauville Farm check out the following business card:

Deauville Farms

Deauville Farms

 

Additionally Deauville Farm is currently filming a documentary. This information can be found on the following website:

www.doevillethemovie.com

 

Corn Here, There, Everywhere…

      CORN HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE….

Zea mays

Author of the number one New York Times Bestseller, Michael Pollan and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, was the obvious choice to begin my studies in food politics. A natural history of four meals, Pollan begins his analysis of the industrial food system by critically analyzing the role of corn within our society. Pollan explains, “The great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket turns out to rest on a remarkably narrow biological foundation comprised of a tiny group of plants that is dominated by a single species: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass most Americans know as corn.”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Being a “history nerd”, I enjoyed Pollan’s interpretations on the history of corn in America during the twentieth century. It is interesting to note that the invention of the tractor put many animals and several crops like oats out of work. By midcentury, corn became the crop that placed cash in the farmer’s pocket, leading to farmers giving the miracle crop more and more land. Each farmer, reflecting on one another’s profits, began to produce more and more corn leading to a substantial increase in the amount of corn within the United States. With the increase in supply came an inevitable decrease in the price of corn. With this decrease in price one would assume that many farmers would opt out of the business. I guess this is why it is never good to assume; farmers did the exact opposite: they began producing more and more corn to cover their costs. In addition, following World War II, the government found itself with a surplus in the amount of ammonium nitrate that was used to make explosives. Agronomists working for the Department of Agriculture encouraged the abundance to be applied to farmland as fertilizer, thus leading to the birth of the chemical fertilizer industry. The hybridization of corn developed in the thirties did not explode until it was acquainted with chemical fertilizers during the fifties. Additionally, as Pollan explains, “Corn already the recipient of biological subsidy in the form of synthetic nitrogen, would now receive an economic subsidy too [under the Nixon administration], ensuring its final triumph over the land and the food system.”

The next question that you are probably asking yourself (I asked myself as I was reading the book) is why the hell does the history of corn matter? The answer is very simple as I soon found out. Concentrated animal feeding operations, a topic I am exceptionally familiar with, are in many ways a direct result of the increased production of Zea mays. With the hybridization of corn, the birth of the chemical fertilizer industry, and the beginning of government subsidies, farmers could sell their corn without profiting and receive government support to do so. More and more land was needed for the production of corn, land that was being occupied by livestock across the nation. Farm efficiency, now measured based upon yield, the maximum quantity of produce rather than quality, no longer allowed for animals to be raised outdoors. Instead animals were confined and fed corn-based diets to be fattened and prepared for slaughter. As Pollan describes, “Cows raised on grass simply take longer to reach slaughter weight than cows raised on a richer diet, and for half a century now the industry has devoted itself to shortening a beef animal’s allotted span on earth.”

In addition to the mere establishment of factory farms, corn has also led to a rise in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Americans. High fructose corn syrup, satisfying America’s sweet tooth and filling our body’s energy demands, allows for corn to be used in multiple foods and to preserve corn for an increased amount of time. Like Pollan, my friend Paige and I took a trip to McDonalds one evening this week. On our break while instructing a lifeguard course, I decided to evaluate the amount of corn that I could find within my meal. Using the hints provided by Pollan I looked for the following corn derived products within my food: cornstarch, mono-, tri-, and diglycerides, dextrose, lecithin, corn flour, corn oil, citric acid, and high fructose corn syrup. Like Pollan, I was surprised by the amount of corn that could be found within our food system. Many of these derivatives were in the food that we purchased. As Pollan contends, “For the corn farmer, you might think the cornification of our food system would have redounded to his benefit, but it has not. Corn’s triumph is the direct result of its overproduction, and that has been a disaster for the people who grow it.”

http://www.motherearthnews.com/~/media/Images/MEN/Editorial/Articles/Magazine%20Articles/1972/07-01/Grow%20Your%20Own%20Corn/Corn.jpg

Corn: Industrial Food Systems

Ask the environmentalist, what is the answer? Like all environmentalists I demand change but when asked this question, the answer is I do not know. I certainly think the corruption within United State’s agricultural system has met its time for reform. Subsistence agriculture, encouraging biodiversity, is the most promising way to break the domination of corn in our food’s industrial process. Pollen’s article though opinionated and based on a naturalistic observation methodology is rather convincing given his training as a journalist.

An Eater’s Manifesto

 

Hydrofracking in the Tidewater

Just a couple months ago I was in Blacksburg writing a paper for my Global Environmental Issues course on horizontal hydraulic fracturing. A relatively local issue, Carrizo Oil and Gas, a Houston-based company that exploits natural gas,  attempted in 2011 to frack in the Shenandoah Valley. The fracking site located on a flood plain in Bergton, Virginia, was defeated by local activists and the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors. Led by Pablo Cuevas, a Republican supervisor for the Bergton region, the company was denied a two year permit that allowed for oil exploration. Cuevas like others in the region realized once the company found gas, “I’ve already given them permission to drill. They don’t have to come back to me for any more permission.”

United States Shale Gas Plays

I ended my paper surprised that it has been three years and there has not since been talk about once again trying to implement hydrofracking in Virginia. Needless to say, I spoke too soon. Latest news, “a new frontier for fracking in Virginia.” This time a Dallas-based oil company, Shore Exploration and Production Company, bought 84,000 acres worth of leases from Caroline to Westmoreland Counties in Virginia. If the company succeeds, they will be granted permission to exploit the Taylorsville Basin on the Potomac River. Ruby Brabo, a nearby District Supervisor, points out that the fracking site will be located directly on top of the Potomac aquifer. She explains, “this is our only source of drinking water.” The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, an agency rather comfortable with the fracking industry, would be responsible for conducting initial screenings and regulating the industry throughout the process. Hoping to begin the fracking process within the next 12-18 months I urge every citizen of Virginia to become familiar with the critical potential of fracking.

Brabo's opening slide states: "This is not about being for or against [fracking]. This is about being proactive vs. reactive." (Leslie Middleton/Bay Journal)

Brabo’s opening slide states: “This is not about being for or against [fracking]. This is about being proactive vs. reactive.”

Sound pollution, potential groundwater contamination, unknown chemicals owned by the oil companies, and more frequent earthquakes are among the most serious issues related with implementing a policy allowing horizontal hydraulic fracturing to occur. Hydrofracking is no different than any other historical manufactured risk that has resulted in an environmental disaster. Recall Love Canal, Three Mile Island, and The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Each of these manufactured risks only led to further environmental degradation. In addition, it is important recognize that in many ways hydrofracking is an issue of environmental justice. These  Texas-based industries are targeting low socio-economic areas in Virginia that are willing to lease their land for exploration in return for economic betterment. These industries, supported by free-market environmentalists, are speaking with their money rather than their rational. As ecological citizens we must stand up against these companies. Ulrich Beck, who writes on The Politics of the Risk Society, explains his vision of a utopia, a form of ecological democracy, is one in which responsible modernity takes into account technological development and economic change before key decisions and risks are taken regarding the environment. As ecological citizens it is time we recognize the critical potential of hydrofracking, the time for reform has come.

King George Supervisor Ruby Brabo (L) listens as Woody Hynson (Westmoreland County supervisor) explains his view of fracking in Tidewater Virginia. (Leslie Middleton/Bay Journal)

King George Supervisor Ruby Brabo (L) listens as Woody Hynson (Westmoreland County supervisor) explains his view of fracking in Tidewater Virginia.

Still do not understand what hydrofracking is? Read more about Hydrofracking and its environmental impacts in my analytical essay I wrote for my global enviornmental issues course with Professor Lawrence.: Hydrofracking: A Critique of Free Market Environmentalism

References/Additional Information:

For more information on the 2011 Bergton Hydrofracking Incident check out the following:

For more information on the 2014 Potomac Hydrofracking Possibility check out the following:

Factory Farms: The Time for Reform has Come

Abstract:

            The emergence of confined animal feeding operations brought with it many ethical, environmental, food safety and security, and health concerns that, if left unchecked may result in further environmental degradation. This research evaluates what the United States Environmental Protection Agency has done to regulate waste disposal, hazardous waste, and harmful runoff released by factory farms. In addition, it analyzes whether or not these regulations have been effective and efficient in conjunction with the regulations imposed on these operations under the Clean Water Act of 1972. Using content analysis, I used primarily qualitative methodology to reach my conclusions. First, the EPA’s regulations have been inefficient due to judicial processes and decisions made by the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals. Second, the states’ authorities in mandating and regulating provisions of the Clean Water Act pertaining to CAFOs have been ineffective. Finally, the environmental and farm petitioners along with lobbyists and other interest groups are greatly influencing the public opinion and the government’s response to regulating factory farms.

Click Below to Open:

Harlow Corey _ CAFO Research Paper