Columbia Free Times
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Governments, Not Farmers, Drive Food Waste

By Free Times Readers
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 |
In response to “Combatting Food Waste and Global Hunger” by Danielle Nierenberg (Food + Drink, Nov. 27): Ms. Nierenberg can certainly be complimented on the passion she displays in her article, but her facts are quite wrong.

As a capitalist, a conservative and a businessman who was born and raised on a farm and has run several successful (i.e., profitable) businesses involved with serving food, I can attest that the amount of food waste from farms, processing and delivery is minimal. It’s when the matter gets into the hands of government or nonprofits that it becomes problematic.

For instance, not even the most muddle-headed environmentalist believes that ethanol is of any benefit at all, to anyone, yet billions of taxpayer dollars and millions of acres of land are dedicated to growing otherwise inedible corn.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on farm subsidies in the U.S., Western Europe, Canada and Australia, rendering it impossible for farmers in Third World and command economies to compete profitably in any way.

Social programs dictating what farmers must plant and when and how, are notorious for waste, fraud and abuse. The squandering of available resources, lack of commercial fertilizers, lack of irrigation, lack of modern seed stocks and lack of modern machinery also results in minimal yields and the further squandering of human capital.

Of course, there is always room for efficiencies, and a well-run enterprise seeks them out and makes them part of the plan, but to rely on nonprofits and government programs to redistribute the wealth always results in failure.

Dennis A. Traffas
West Columbia

Broadening the LGBTQ Movement and Meeting People Where They Are
In May 2013, I submitted an incredibly sanctimonious and aggressive opinion piece to The Feminist Wire entitled “An Open Letter to the Mainstream LGBT Movement.” An adapted version of that piece appeared in Free Times and unfairly took aim at South Carolina Equality. I sincerely regret the tone of the piece and the fact that my words sent hurtful, negative energy toward folks within the LGBTQ movement. I want to apologize to the board members of South Carolina Equality and executive director Ryan Wilson; I was wrong for sending out that negative energy. You deserve so much better than the animus contained in that piece. In fact, you deserve the commendation of every LGBTQ person in this state because you have “made a way out of no way” in a political climate that proves hostile to any law or initiative with “LGBTQ” stamped on it.

I still maintain that the LGBTQ liberation movement must de-center gay marriage in order to honor the experiences of the most vulnerable members of our community. We must center the experiences of all of the folks who feel left out of the Anglocentric, cisgendered, androcentric national marriage equality movement.

In a recent article entitled “7 LGBT Issues that Matter More than Marriage,” BuzzFeed community member “Holly” identified the following issue areas as paramount for a more inclusive LGBTQ liberation framework: queer and trans homelessness; violence against queer and trans people; racial justice; immigrant justice; health; economic justice; and justice for transgendered people.

Critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams-Crenshaw has also issued a call for more inclusive liberation movements in stressing the importance of intersectionality, which is a political paradigm that foregrounds the simultaneity of oppressions and inequities. For example, racial justice cannot be separated from LGBTQ liberation, because seeing these issues as stand-alone paradigms will invariably isolate LGBTQ people of color.

On the other hand, I have to wonder how we expect to build an inclusive movement when some of us obsess over how “highly evolved” our politics are in comparison to the so-called “mainstream gays.” I have grown quite averse to an LGBTQ liberation paradigm that establishes new orthodoxies based on who has the most “radical” politics. It lacks compassion and empathy and refuses to meet people where they are on their journeys.

How can we promote social change with inaccessible, esoteric language like hetero-patriarchy, hegemony, etc.? The ideas can originate in the language of academia, but ultimately, we should explain our political goals and ideas with simple language. Crisp, cogent explanations do not dilute the power and potential of the messages; on the contrary, they allow us to harness the great political potential of diverse LGBTQ constituencies who are hungry for change.

Let’s have a nuanced conversation about why we need to center issues outside of same-sex marriage and meet people where they are rather than having a contest to see who can have the most subversive sexual and gender diversity politics. This is a much more compassionate, empathetic way to operate and will open more hearts and minds in the long run.

Ben Fisher

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Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18:

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