Friday, January 25, 2008


As marketing people tend to do, they have identified a strong force on the consumer landscape—people who value a lifestyle of health and sustainability and are willing to pay for products that support their beliefs. This group, they say, has adopted a Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability LOHAS. It's estimated that 68 million Americans, about a third of the adult population, qualify as LOHAS. Without realizing it, these people have become the most influential 7 force in the recent food revolution. And they have numerous allies, including farmers who want to create a more healthy and sustainable land, public health officials concerned about toxins and antibiotics in food products, environmentalists who are concerned about pollution from factory farming, consumer rights groups wanting more accurate labeling of food sources on food packaging, and union activists who want safe working conditions for their members who run the risk of massive exposure to toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Diet Start

Yes, collectively we, the people, are the force that can lead to change. Every time we go shopping for food, every time we chose a meal in a restaurant, our choices—what we buy—will make a difference—not only for our own health and our own peace of mind, but also for the future of the planet. Fortunately more and more people are beginning to realize this. Every time an individual makes such a change in his or her lifestyle the number of people eating ethically and healthily increases—by one.

This philosophy—that every individual matters and every individual makes a difference every day—is at the heart of the Jane Goodall Institute's Roots & Shoots global program for youth. The name is symbolic: Roots make a firm foundation and Shoots seem tiny but to reach the sun they can break through a brick wall. Imagine the brick wall as all the problems we humans have inflicted on the planet. The message is one of hope: Thousands of young people— and there are some 7,500 groups established in more than ninety countries—are breaking through all manner of brick walls to make the world a better place.

In several African countries there are Roots & Shoots groups maintaining tree nurseries and distributing seedlings to schools that are otherwise surrounded by compacted, sunbaked earth. As the trees grow, cared for by the students, grasses can survive in the shade below them. And, encouraged by the greening of the schoolyards, Roots & Shoots groups are growing fruit trees and vegetables to improve their diet. Refugee groups are also growing vegetables, and some keep chickens for their eggs.

There are so many projects and many of them concern food and farming. Students are composting, making organic vegetable plots. Two groups (one in the U.K. and one in Belgium) rescued hens from battery farms, and studied how they grew back their feathers and adjusted to freedom. They are campaigning (always without violence) against the use of synthetic chemicals in food; the feeding of hormones and antibiotics, as prophylaxis, to livestock; the use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers on farmland; the use of nonbiodegradable containers in school lunch boxes. They are writing letters to legislators, raising money for all manner of causes. And they are influencingtheir parents.

Roots & Shoots groups are thus joined with all of us who are trying to change the world. In fact, many predict that in the years to come, activists will have a greater impact through consumer choices and the culture of economics than through legislative lobbying or lawsuits.


Remember, every food purchase is a vote. We might be tempted, as individuals, to think that our small actions don't really matter, that one meal can't make a difference. But each meal, each bite of food, has a rich history as to how and where it grew or was raised, how it was harvested. Our purchases, our votes, will determine the way ahead. And thousands upon thousands of votes are needed in favor of the kind of farming practices that will restore health to our


Our world can no longer afford the heedless consumption of the Western world that is now spreading its greedy tentacles around the globe. The price, most of which must be paid by our children, is too great. Only by acting together, by refusing to buy food that has been secretly laced with poisons and pain, can we make a stand against the corporate power that is circling our planet. So let us join hands. Let us speak out for the voiceless and the poor. Let us assert our right, as citizens of free democracies, to take back into our hands the production of our food. Let us, together, sow seeds for a better harvest—a harvest for hope.

... andjoyohoxing