Food and Biocultural Diversity


This on-line article may be used for non-commercial purposes only, provided the authors are attributed. As with BSG's self-serve farmstand, we see high value when individuals fairly trade and advance mutual interests.


Author: Janis Steele,Ph.D.

Contributing Editor: Brooks McCutchen, Ph.D.

Owners, Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple & Carbon Farm

Heath, MA


The explosion of farmers' markets (up 300% since 1994), the rise of community gardens, booming sales in organics and local foods, the proliferation of best selling books and popular films on foods and food systems: all these phenomena and more attest to the interest and concern among Americans for food that sustains health, communities and the environment. They are part of a growing response to a juggernaut that our industrial food system has imposed on biological, social and ecological systems. We share these evolving interests which have been motivating BSG Farm to pursue sustainable practices from forest to market. As agroforesters harvesting in a wild biome and processing and marketing variance in maple syrups, we are particularly interested in how sustainability expresses as relationships between farmers, harvesters and consumers. Our work has compelled us to argue for the value of restoring and building substantive and creative direct communication among these players based on the synergy between variance in all harvests – whether from agroforestry, agriculture, or fisheries— and the enhancement of biocultural diversity.1 It is an exciting time to be both an artisanal food producer and consumer! Following are some frameworks that compel us on our journey and inform our activities. For more information, read this paper in conjunction with other pages on BSG Maple & Carbon Farm's website.



In his 2008 book, The End of Food, Paul Roberts forcefully argues that modern economies have reduced food to a “commodity” like any other, which must be produced in ever greater numbers at an ever lower cost.2 Like many other small farms, our family-scale agroforestry has encountered this food pressure. When we built BSG-Farm in 1996, we accepted a logic that business success lay, at least in part, in pursuing wholesale markets. Contrasting our wholesale to direct market strategies, however, it quickly became apparent that in both conventional and specialty food markets, including Whole Foods, commodity pressures were driving us towards harvesting and processing behaviors based on volume production and unreasonably low wages. Even worse, in such settings, these pressures were not being offset by customers armed with sufficient crop information that would allow them to distinguish between BSG's stunning small batch and variance harvested/processed syrups, with myriad flavors and uses, and commodity syrups, standardized for color and flavor and intended primarily for a breakfast food market.3 For example, very few customers are aware that maple syrup is a fermentation crop. Dozens of wild, airborne yeast, and some bacteria, ferment sap as it travels from tree to sugarhouse, producing a vast array of flavors. Small batch harvesting aims to capture that natural variance so that no two short-batches are ever identical in flavor. Furthermore, variance harvesting reveals that syrup colors actually range across a wide continuum – whereas “grades” occur in processing activities that homogenize maple. The pervasiveness of this fact and its impact on consumers is revealed in the following anecdote. Buyers for Dean & Deluca's, a renowned gourmet market in New York City, viewed and tasted bottles of our single-batch “hyper-light” amber (characterized by vanilla, white-chocolate and hazelnut flavors) and declined to carry us on the basis that their customers would not recognize the pale straw-gold color as maple syrup!


Many shoppers are unaware that store shelf space, often measured in inches, is hard to secure and food products that guarantee the lowest price, uniformity and steady supply tend to win the day. These are typically the items of the industrial food system and large scale agribusiness, not the small family-scale farm. Author and anthropologist Sidney Mintz has described the effects of such pressures:


[S]o far as diversity in local foods, in processing, and in distinctive techniques and tastes are concerned, I fear that the aggregate effect of such [practices] overall has been erosive to differences – a settling for the mediocre – flattening variation, dissolving subtlety. The cumulative, selective process of modernity in action-- whether of food, cooking method, cooking medium,plant variety, animal breed, or taste – has repeatedly picked as criteria such things as standardization, efficiency, preservability, convenience of packing and shipping, and underlying it all, the desire for profit.4


Transforming the food system is not an easy or straightforward task. Scholars and activists alike question which sources of human agency can address the problems at hand. How do we achieve the “foundational knowledge and motivational impetus to construct solutions?” (Ostrom & Jussaume 2009: 238). Questions of agency and impetus are always complex. Many would argue that the industrial food system is too vast, and has penetrated too deeply into our world view and socioeconomic systems. But for a long time now, social scientists and philosophers have revealed that while powerful structures do determine many of the vocabularies and frameworks of action available to us, these are never total or absolute and people's actions can transform those schemes in surprising and unpredictable ways.5 One such action lies in restoring substantive and creative communication between consumers, farmers and harvesters, based on the synergy between variance in foods and the robustness of biocultural diversity. We have taken these considerations and folded them into hard work. Each year we interact with over 40,000 potential customers, distributing in excess of 70,000 tastes while honing our understanding of the fundamental relationships between narratives and practice, (both ours and our customers'). 6


One main buttress of industrial food systems is the breakdown of exchange and knowledge between harvesters and customers where brokers and markets lengthen the food chain and obscure connections between production and consumption. Both farmers and consumers have been disabled as active agents in these food chains. Markets like Whole Foods and certification programs like Fair Trade, seeing opportunity to address this disjuncture brought forth foods that supported environmental stewardship and/or social justice while seeking to offer product accountability that more and more customers were expecting. Increasingly, foods on many of our supermarket shelves began to appear with a story, marketing a gateway for consumers to authentic relationships with their foods that involved sustaining the people who farmed that food and the habitats and creatures that yielded it. While such efforts can be well intentioned, on their own they are insufficient. In his discussion of the rise of Big Organic in The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), well-known popular author Michael Pollan concludes that too often consumers continue to rely on certifiers and label writers –the grocery store poets—to craft their bridge between consumption and production, while meanwhile, behind the scenes and market texts of bucolic farms and happy farmers, business goes along as usual.


For example, as organic became the fastest growing segment of our food markets, small scale organic family farms became squeezed out by large scale operations harvesting thousands of acres, or raising thousands of heads of cattle in organic feedlots, or collecting thousands of organic eggs from so-called free-range birds, and marketing it all nationwide (or even globally). Many have argued that Big Organic has strayed from core values of its genesis, namely, to offer direct connections between producers and consumers, to secure living wages for family-scale farmers possessing nuanced local knowledge, to protect flavor, and to steward the land in sustainable ways. 7


Fair trade programs were conceived as a values-based movement as well to address imbalances in global North/South trade relations by, among other things, securing a fair price to producers, improving market access for small producers, and building closer ties between producers and consumers. While advocates continue to point to positive outcomes, they recognize the inherent tensions of a movement that works both in and against market pressures (Raynolds & Murray 2007). For example, the success of the Fair Trade market in coffees has resulted in many big buyers favoring larger cooperatives over smaller ones since they are more likely to have established track records of delivering consistent (read: not variant) product. Moreover, some critics argue, consumers have been led “to identify with a generic 'fair-trade producer' rather than the actual producers of the coffee that people are buying” (Smith 2007:91).8 Research on the subject has revealed that, in fact, some smaller coffee roasters are opting out of certification and fair trade labels in favor of “self-certification” contending that labels are for companies “that don't want to do the relationship part [with growers] on their own” (interview with coffee roaster in Lyon 2006:252). 9 Further risks emerge when fair trade agricultural programs propel farmers into monoculture and export crops, further jeopardizing local food security and biodiversity.


These kinds of challenges and criticisms of values-based movements in action do not warrant the rejection of programs to standardize and certify but instead point to the necessity of ongoing work to support meaningful goals for such programs amidst the pressures of commodity trends.10 Those trends will cause programs to gravitate towards top-down approaches which foster greater abstraction and commodification of foods and producer/consumer relations. By contrast, a kind of “bottom-up” approach can highlight non-commodified aspects of foods that counter standardization and constrictions of biocultural diversity. It is our view that the aggregate of countless small-scale producers and harvesters interfacing with the public is a critical component to keep alive and active valuable knowledge and intrigue about foods which together help confer meaning and gravity to certification programs. 11


BSG Farm's early market research encountered commodity pressures in wholesale settings and found opportunity in direct markets. While direct-marketing can be employed without any ties to sustainable food movements, the inverse is not true. Sustainable food movements must build from direct, engaged exchange in order to re-situate knowledge, stimulate curiosity, and re-embed our foods in specific places and specific contexts. Only through these substantive encounters can we take into account the nuanced possibilities and challenges connected to particular crops, locales, communities, histories, and ecosystems. This is the core of variance practices in food harvesting, processing and marketing. 12


As BSG Farm continued to build direct markets and abandoned wholesale ones, it became increasingly clear to us that developing cultural and science-based narratives between us and our customers would anchor not only a fair wage for our labor, but would also ensure the vitality of this agroforestry. Customer knowledge and expectation compels us towards better harvesting and processing practices sustaining the forest and ecosystem services (see below) it provides while protecting the natural variance and subtleties of maple syrups. Thomas Lyson's (2004)13 term “civic agriculture” helps capture elements of this type of engagement. To be clear, we are not opposed to wholesale markets when they are energized by an informed public, capable of resisting label shopping and branding which conjures images of bounty and well-being that are little more than rhetoric. When a knowledgeable customer base is rebuilt, an intermediary, subject to transparency, and regulated by sustainable certification schemes, can also earn profits by fairly trading with all interested parties, large and small.


To reiterate, farmers, harvesters and their customers can co-generate sustainable food cultures in a direct exchange of intriguing narratives and substantive information about food.14 These narratives focus on foods' sources in field, forest or water, the ecosystem services they relate to, the farmers and harvesters who grow or collect them, and the histories and uses that give them meaning. These narratives must both encapsulate and drive towards the biocultural diversity necessary for robust life.


At the same time, such narratives cannot simply be abstracted from the past with nostalgia. Firstly, food cultures, and cultures in general, are nowhere and never stable repertoires of tradition and custom, waiting to be plucked for their essence. Culture, as many anthropologists have revealed, is not an object but a lived activity, often contested, always temporal, and forever emergent (Clifford 1986). Secondly, in today's highly populated and heavily harvested settings, narratives must incorporate local knowledge with modern science, which includes new knowledge about ecosystems and the value of biodiversity. Agricultural economist John Ikerd stresses that the farmers of today must be thinking farmers in order to confront the challenges before them (2008). For example, we now know that Earth is going through the sixth great period of extinction of the last half billion years.15 Agriculture plays a significant part in this tragedy by losing and degrading habitats. Given this reality, sustainable agriculture simply cannot be sidelined as the purview of the elite; rather it is a necessary course for our very survival.16


In the field of agroecology, practitioners and writers have been exploring the link between healthy communities and healthy ecosystems, focusing on the essential role of biodiversity. They stress that ecosystems that contain enough of the right sorts of biodiversity ultimately will be more productive of foods while also protective of our natural resources like soil, water and air that expand ecosystem resources for everyone.17 More broadly and over the past two decades, businesses, NGOS, academics, governmental agencies, communities and individuals have been acknowledging and focusing on the complex relationships between humans and those ecosystem services that we rely upon.18 Because most of these services are not traded in economic markets “they carry no price tags that could alert society to changes in their supply or deterioration of underlying ecological systems that generate them” (Daily et al, 1997:1).19 Steadily and with difficulty, an ecosystem marketplace is emerging where we can begin to appreciate, for example, that foods that are cheap come with many costs unaccounted for.


The critical element of communication between food producers and consumers seeks to embed the value of these services –their natural and social capital-- into a marketplace of foods. Turning our foods into bulk commodities like any other, driving their prices down, disconnects them from these essential forms of capital. Today, there are few corners of the food system untouched by agribusiness giants: transnational agricultural corporations control 40% of world trade in food (Patel, 2008:100-102).20 The profits of our food systems support these giants, but are rarely returned to restore or sustain the natural and social capital of the environment and communities that eat.



Increasingly, with this appreciation for the value of ecosystem services, conservation efforts are being tied to issues of social justice, where the quality of people's lives and livelihoods—those nearby and far away-- is inextricably linked to their use and stewardship of the land. Recovering fair wages for farmers and harvesters so that they can manage their local resources in sustainable ways is part of a win-win situation for all.21


Berkshire Sweet Gold maple syrups are a perennial crop harvested from a wild forest biome. The land provides ecosystem services that far exceed the provision of our livelihood. Syrups are made from sap purified by root systems of an entire forest and drawn from trees that are a natural part of a carbon cycle which extracts carbon from the air and stores it in soil, expanding fertility. The forest provides habitat for diverse species –large and small, plant, fungal, animal; it improves water quality in multiple streams winding through it and in surface runoff that forms part of the Deerfield River watershed, all this without regard for the deeded boundaries of the farm. This ecosystem, like all others, reveals that the environmental impacts of human activity cannot be fenced in. Narratives about variance harvesting of maple and the activities of carbon farming at BSG Farm are evidence of biocultural diversity in play just as attention to that biocultural diversity inevitably drives narratives of variance.


For too long, agricultural lands have been cast as ecological sacrifice zones where biodiversity and agricultural variance have been lost (Jackson & Jackson, 2002).22 Our behaviors when it comes to the oceans are dangerously similar; however, because we are terrestrial beings, most of us have scant awareness of and perhaps even less interaction with the planet's watery realms than we do with our agricultural lands, even though a lot of our food comes from oceans. More and more Americans have been turning to fish for the myriad health benefits they offer; and several BSG Farm recipes suggest delicious combinations of fish and maple. At the same time, we recognize that many wild harvest and aquaculture practices are rapidly leading to empty seas. 23


We at BSG Maple & Carbon Farm are particularly drawn to exploring ways to construct sustainable fisheries. As a family of SCUBA divers, oceans beckon with a diversity, strangeness and drama of life. Along numerous biological dimensions, hardwood forests may be analogized to coral reefs: both are complex wild biomes with layers of life and activity exchanging services, sequestering carbon, sustaining mystery. Carbon in the forest provides structural support as does calcium carbonate in coral reefs. Trees' cambium layers, like coral animals, drape their life in cellular-thin layers on these scaffolds.24 Both involve wild harvests, uniquely common to your local grocer, drawn from rich biodiverse realms.


Fishing practices worldwide are severely impacting our ocean ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Numerous organizations and groups like Ocean Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund are among those working towards solutions. 25 Moreover, efforts to establish sustainable fisheries intersect with the building recognition of the many critical but undervalued ecosystem services oceans provide, not only for coastal inhabitants but for all life on the planet.26 As the Conservancy states on their website: “It’s in everyone’s best interest — distributors, retailers, fishermen and consumers — to restore the ocean’s bounty and strengthen our coastal economies.” 27 With catchphrase names like “bait-to-plate” or “fishery-to-fork”, projects recognize the imperative of recasting the entire chain of custody of wild fish to ensure transparency of sustainable practices.28


However, as with earlier discussion here about sustainable land-based food movements, sustainable fisheries practices will have to struggle with the tension of working both in and against commodity markets that tend to obscure connections between production and consumption. Like with the fair trade movement, customers who come to identify simply with a label or certification risk continued disconnection from the fishers and the source of their food. In the marketplace, as two of the very few harvests from wild ecosystems typically found in grocery stores, maple and fish share in common a poor customer knowledge base. 29 We contend that in both areas, sustainable markets must be built through attention to the construction of narratives between producers and consumers that are based on the development and articulation of variance practices. Direct markets of this nature can begin locally, but we must also attempt to find ways to replicate this across distances. While we recognize that it is certainly harder for fishermen and aquaculturists to directly exchange with those who live at a distance, this is an avenue that has received too little attention.30 Much of the impetus for the regulation of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture is driven by the public's growing knowledge-- attributable in large part to efforts of those numerous organizations-- of what is at stake. 31 Building direct market structures in fisheries wherever possible will promote sustainability in its broadest and most nuanced dimensions for both producers, consumers and ocean ecosystems.


Finally, some words about the role of knowledge. It is difficult to write about the value of knowledge without appearing to advocate for a simplistic notion that the more we know, the better off things will be, that knowing our neighbors, our food producers, our planet will lead directly to improved relationships. History tells us we can be reasonably skeptical about such a claim. Moreover, it could be argued that in many cases, knowledge itself becomes the progenerator of problems (for example, we deeply question the promises of the next “Green Revolution” in world agriculture, founded on bioengineering). The meaningful exchange of knowledge, as any good classroom teacher will attest to, begins with curiosity, flourishes with involvement and personal engagement, and accepts its inevitable limits. And as with all real learning, there are degrees of risk involved which may include the unsettling of our prior convictions, encounters with alternatives that may sometimes be confounding, and the persistence of contradictions that, for better or worse, won't go away. We are sympathetic to those who, like us, sometimes find learning about the foods we eat and food systems to be overwhelming or even distressing. The default position can too easily become one of moral obligation and duty which can lead to guilt or a sense of powerlessness, none of which inspires impetus. Instead, we would suggest holding in dynamic tension sets of contrasting forces: our desires to advance self-interest and celebrate individualism held in dynamic tension with our desires to advance communal interests and experience a sense of belonging and solidarity; our pursuits in the short run (typically more concerned with gratification and gaining an edge) held in dynamic tension with the goals of the long run (often more sustainable). Anthropologist Richard Wilk advises: “The extremes of slow and fast [food], local and global, artisanal and industrial, are ideal types: at some level they may be good intellectual tools, but all the real action takes place in between....” 32


Out of the rich ambivalence of such tensions, we may find thresholds to launch our most creative acts, laced together with our fullest passions. As poet/author and farmer Wendell Berry reminds us:


Eaters...must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.... Eating with the fullest pleasure –pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.33 (Emphasis added)


The human need for food is fundamental and universal, yet food is not just a biological imperative. People everywhere experience food through the lenses of culture. With our inventiveness and pursuit of knowledge, our economic structures, political and social organization, spirituality, artistic expression, and complex relationships to nature, we craft ideas and tools that mediate our relationships to food. Food is remarkable in that, as people encounter it through these lenses, it has the ironic capacity to instantly shift from commodity to non-commodity and back again. For each of us, as consumers of foods numbering in the millions, curiosity, enthusiasm, knowledge and pleasure may be sustained within those narratives of variance linked to biocultural diversity. Holding on to this global diversity is the challenge of our times met through the complex terrain of carbon farming.34






1"We have ... achieved a better understanding of the nexus between the diversity of living beings and the diversity of cultures - which together make up the diversity of life on the planet. Nurturing human diversity through culture-based conservation, maintenance of traditional knowledge, revitalization of local practices of natural resource use and governance have become equally important objectives of IUCN as those of conserving species and ecosystems – because ultimately they are profoundly linked realities." --International Union for Conservation of Nature 2008

"The notion of the 'inextricable link' implies not only that biological and cultural diversity are linked to a wide range of human-nature interactions, but also that they are co-evolved, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing."

--UNESCO 2008

2In Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization (2004), author Richard Manning offers a provocative critique of agriculture, unfolding its history to argue that since its very inception, the principle goal of agriculture has never been to feed people, but to facilitate the accumulation and distribution of wealth.”What agriculture grows is not food but commodities, grain not to eat but to store, trade, and process.” p. 188

3Our tenure at Whole Foods stores in the northeast likely coincided with their adoption of the grocery industry's standard regional distribution system which made supporting small farms impractical.

4From “Food at Moderate Speeds” in Fast Food/Slow Food: The Cultural Economy of the Global Food System, Richard Wilk, editor. Altamira Press , 2006

5Some of the scholars that I draw this notion from are Raymond Williams, William Roseberry, Antonio Gramsci and Stewart Hall.

6 While the preponderance of BSG Farm syrup sales may be considered local, either through the farmstand or employing one commonly accepted model of traveling within a day's drive, and while we advocate eating more foods from local sources, we recognize that many of our foods will continue to be sourced from further away, as many foods have been for millennium. We will likely continue to eat at a variety of scales and are cautious about over-valorizing local eating as a solution to the world's food system problems.(DeLind 2002, 2008). We live in a globalized world and people's lives are inter-connected in myriad ways.

7See discussions at http://www.organicconsumers.org/

8In Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability and Survival, author Daniel Jaffee (2007) examines how expanding Fair Trade coffee markets give rise to this tension between the social movement aspect of Fair Trade and its commodification in the marketplace.

9 BSG-Maple & Carbon Farm has made a similar decision to not pursue organic certification; instead, we make our activities as both harvesters and processors transparent in our direct marketing relationships with customers.

10 Lockie (2009) and Holzer (2006) take the position that consumer choices, by themselves, can do little to shape marketplaces since the refusal of individuals to buy a particular product does not necessarily result in a better alternative. They contend that through involvement with social movement organizations such as certification bodies, environmental NGOs, and cooperatives, consumers' monetary resources can be translated into genuine influence. Such groups succeed by “articulating a problem, identifying its causes, suggesting solutions, and issuing calls to action. … providing mechanisms through which people could use consumption choices to signal support for the political project...” (2009:200)

11

12 Certainly there are many obstacles to developing direct-market outlets that must be considered; however, agricultural economist John Ikerd maintains that direct markets are increasingly an option for the “new farmers” of this generation, either through farmers' markets or CSAs (community-supported agriculture.) “Since two thirds of all farms in the United States are located in 'metropolitan' counties or in counties adjacent to 'metropolitan counties, direct market opportunities are quite common.” p. 172 in Crisis & Opportunity: Sustainabilitly in American Agriculture. Lincoln, NE: U.of Nebraska Press. 2008 . 2008:172)

13Thomas Lyson Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community Medford, MA:Tufts Univ. Press. 2004

14 Ikerd writes of “culture-creating farmers” who “focus on doing the things that industrial systems are inherently incapable of doing well.” 2008: 283-4

15The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, the MA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.” www.millenniumassessment.org

16Visit these wonderful sites: Wild Farm Alliance ; LSP Programs - Agroecology ; Navdanya

17 You can read Miguel Altieri 's article Agroecology, Small Farms and Food Sovereignty at http://www.monthlyreview.org/090810altieri.php. For more information, here are two seminal books: Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture 1995 and Stephen R. Gliessman's Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems 2006.

18 These ecosystem services exist as an intricate interplay of natural cycles across a wide range of space and time scales. They include the familiar environmental goods like food, water, fuel and timber, but they also include less familiar services like those that regulate our climate, purify our air and waters, detoxify and decompose our wastes, and help control disease, or those that support our existence through nutrient cycling and soil formation that enable biodiversity, or those that bring cultural values that may be aesthetic, spiritual or recreational.

19Gretchen C Daily et al. In Issues in Ecology, Issue 2, Spring 1997 issue2.pdf (application/pdf Object)

20Raj Patel, 2008 Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing

21In addition to books and sites listed previously about the global food system, you can also learn more about the Slow Food Movement at http://www.slowfood.com/

22Dana L. Jackson and Laura L. Jackson, editors. The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems, Washington DC: Island Press 2002

23 In contrast to agricultural lands, some have argued that the oceans have by and large been a free for all, without demarcations of ownership and the benefits of resource management that presumably follow from that. As a “watery commons” (White, in The Fishery as a Watery Commons,, 2007 6092_fisheries_white.pdf (application/pdf Object) ), the ocean has been said to suffer from the “tragedy of the commons.” Other scholars have challenged the assumption that constructs of the commons and their tragedies may be applied globally to fishing areas. They contend that throughout history and in different settings, small-scale fishermen have practiced a number of forms of self-regulation that employ non-Western forms of tenure specific to the context of the total socioeconomic system of which they are part (E. Paul Durrenberger and Gisli Palsson , Ownership at Sea: Fishing Territories and Access to Sea Resources, in American Ethnologist 1986: 508-522).

24R. Platt, The Great American Forest, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1965.

25 The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has a program to audit and certify wild fisheries as sustainable although currently less than 10% of the worldwide fish haul is currently certified as sustainable. Aquaculture, which includes the farming of fish, shellfish and shrimp (as well as seaweed), may help take some pressure of wild fisheries and provide needed income to coastal communities. It is the world's fastest growing food sector, worth US$56 billion globally and providing between 30 and 40% of the fish people consume. However, at present, many aquaculture practices are impacting negatively on communities, environment, and wild marine species. The World Wildlife Fund is in the process of forming an Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), similar to the MSC, which is expected to be operational by 2011 and will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards for responsible aquaculture. As with other certification programs, however, these programs will not be enough on their own.

26The Marine Ecosystem Services (MARES) program “aims to protect crucial marine ecosystem services by harnessing markets and private sector investment, in order to complement conventional coastal and marine management and safeguard human well-being.”Forest Trends - MARES

28Research has shown that in many markets and restaurants across the US, fish species are often being sold mislabeled, whether as an entirely different species, or as wild when actually farmed. Somewhere along the chain of custody, facts are being obscured and lost and as a result, consumers are not able to make reliable, sustainable choices. In other cases, fish have had a name “makeover” to broaden their market appeal: for example, Patagonian Toothfish became Chilean Sea Bass, and Slimeheads became Orange Roughy! This makeover process isn't just semantics; scientists warn that this is part of a vicious cycle that masks the realities of ongoing depletion of fish species. Read an excellent article on the subject of mislabeled and renamed fish in Conservation Magazine, www.conservationmagazine.org/articles/v9n4/impostor-fish

29 One important difference between maple and fish harvests is that the yield from maple is so small per tree that with proper forestry management, the forest is not significantly challenged by the harvest. This is not the case with fish where common harvest practices critically threaten oceans.

32 Fast food/slow food: the cultural economy of the global food system. Richard R. Wilk, editor p. 15

33From “The Pleasures of Eating” by Wendell Berry The Pleasures of Eating - Wendell Berry | Center for Ecoliteracy

34 see companion paper “Carbon Farming”