Originally published at http://ecoanthropologist.blogspot.com/ July 21,2015.
The night was still warm while I sat on the simple chair listening to insect songs which sounded both familiar and strange. The stars seemed brighter than usual in the southern skies of Zambia. In the dim candlelight Batata (father) gestured to the saved pumpkin seeds spread on the mealie sack covering the hard packed earth. He told me the seeds were from pumpkins he grew before and pumpkins his father grew before and pumpkins his father grew and his father before that. I sat silently in awe staring at those seeds and the long link to the past they represented. How amazing is it to have such a connection to your ancestors and the land stretching back generations? Links like this seemed to be disappearing where I came from along with so many others.
Saving seeds links us with our deep past and growing our own food connects us with the soils of the earth, the water from the sky, and the sunshine coming from light-years away to warm and feed us. These connections are lost when we can’t save seeds and a laboratory is needed to serve as a middle-man between us and our food. Gardening and farming requires intimate knowledge of our natural environment and we need this intimacy with the natural world now more than ever. We are forgetting where our food comes from and how to grow it and by forgetting such vital information we are forgetting how to sustain ourselves in a most basic way. We are forgetting how to feed ourselves and have become dependent upon food companies to provide us with food and water—at a price.
Oddly, our current system of industrial food production and distribution isn’t organized with the goal of feeding people—it’s organized around making as much money as possible for certain people. Food companies are not asking, “How do we feed as many people as possible?” They are asking, “How do we make as much money as possible off of selling food to people?” The main block between people and food in this system, it’s most sacred rule, is if you don’t have money, you don’t get food.
We need a new pattern of organization. In the previous blog, GMO’s Will Not End World Hunger, I pointed out the cause of world hunger isn’t due to inadequate food production; it is our way of distributing and granting access to the food that is causing world hunger. So, we need to change the way we distribute and allow access to food. This is simple to say, but complicated to do because it essentially requires us to completely rethink our economic system. It requires us to rethink our relationship with our food and how it is produced. It requires us to rethink our relationships with each other and with our entire planet. The solution to world hunger is allowing more people access to food through fairer distribution and trade. Instead of blaming poor people for being poor, let’s change our systemic pattern of organization instead. Local sustainable production through community gardens and urban agriculture will do far more to end world hunger than GMOs created in a laboratory. So will redesigning our current distribution systems to focus on actually feeding people as the primary goal instead of profit being the only consideration.
We need to take back control of food production by producing locally and consuming locally and we need to stop wasting so much of what is already produced. Support local urban agriculture, join a farmer co-op or CSA, and shop farmers markets. Start your own garden because, in my experience with gardeners, sharing food is inevitable! Support measures which make it easier to farm and garden in your area while working to change laws which make it illegal or very difficult. Learn more about co-ops and the emerging co-operative economy. Support organic food production which nourishes and conserves our soils while leaving room for other species on this earth.
Sources and Things to Check Out:
Brugger, Rachel. (2015, June 5). Trader Joe’s Ex-Exec Opens Nonprofit Grocery. UrbanFarmOnline.com. [Web Article]. Retrieved from http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-farm-news/2015/06/05/trader-joes-exec-opens-nonprofit-grocery.aspx
Doiron, Roger. (2011, September). My subversive (garden) plot. TEDxDirigo. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/roger_doiron_my_subversive_garden_plot
Finley, Ron. (2013, February). A guerilla gardener in South Central LA. TED. [Web Video].Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la?language=en
Free Range Studios. (Producers) & Fox, Louis (Director). (2013, October). The Story of Solutions. The Story of Stuff Project. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://storyofstuff.org/movies/the-story-of-solutions/
Johnson, Kirk. (2009, June 28). It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado. New York Times, U.S. [Web Article]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/us/29rain.html?_r=1&
Last Week Tonight. (2015, July 19). Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Food Waste (HBO). HBO. [Web Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8xwLWb0lLY
Vivero Pol, Jose Luis (2013, October 9). Why Food Should be a Commons not a Commodity. Shareable. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.shareable.net/blog/why-food-should-be-a-commons-not-a-commodity