Friday, January 25, 2008

Put our Harvest on Hope: Harvest for Hope

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still havea dream."

We live in troubling times. The giant corporations control much of the world's food, as well as the patents on our seeds. Billions of farm animals live in conditions of utmost deprivation and misery. Humans and animals are increasingly becoming poisoned from the chemicals that have been lavishly sprinkled over fields, crops, and food produce and that have contaminated the earth's water, soil, and air. Disease-causing bacteria are 'building up resistance to the antibiotics that are routinely administered to livestock in factory farms. Genetically modified organisms, GMOs, have escaped into the environment and who knows what that will mean? Billions of tons of fossil fuel are used to transport our food from one end of the planet to the other—and often back again—contributing significantly to the changes in global climate. And the soil of our planet is being not only poisoned but swept away by the wind from areas cleared for agriculture. Monoculture crops subsidized by governments provide fuel for the manufacture of hamburgers and T-bone steaks. Thousands of children die of obesity and its attendant ills in the West, while millions more die of starvation in the developing word. Family farms are going out of business and asphalt and concrete is spread over more and more good arable land. Water is becoming terrifyingly scarce as well as polluted.

Diet Start

I learned more and more about the unethical conduct of some of the largest multinational corporations. They are so powerful, and they can break down those who oppose their will with lawsuits that only they can afford. Many corporations contribute large amounts to the campaigns of politicians: They are repaid by support for their programs. Money and power are falling into the hands of fewer and fewer people on the global stage.

In 2005 the United Nations issued a rather daunting "Millennium Report." After a five-year study, a team of international scientists came to a sobering agreement: Unless we stop the pollution and degradation caused by industrial farming and seriously address overfishing and global warming, we will literally run out of enough resources to feed everyone by the year 2050. The scientists used the analogy of people overspending their bank accounts. Meaning, to put it bluntly, that if governments and industries continue to allow and actually subsidize farming methods that destroy our planet's resources, for the sake of immediate profit, we shall eat everything edible to the point of human population collapse—and we shall take many other species with us.

Fortunately, the report indicated that the situation is not utterly hopeless. Not, that is, if we take steps immediately to reduce fossil fuel emissions; bring to an end government and consumer support for industrial agriculture, including animal factory farms and fisheries that harm the planet; and start subsidizing and supporting more sensible and sustainable ways to feed human beings. "Take immediate steps"—that is addressed to each one of us.

There has never been a time when it is more crucial for us to carefully consider where our food is coming from and how it was grown, raised, and harvested—so that we can make informed efforts to purchase the right things. For our choices will affect not only our own health but also the environment and animal welfare. And, too, our choices will affect small family farms. I have told the stories of several farmers who have returned to more traditional farming methods, working—usually very hard indeed—to have their produce branded organic and to become once more wise stewards of the land. It is desperately important that we support them by buying their produce whenever possible. And persuading our friends to do the same.

... andjoyohoxing