What is the culture of this land? Is there a common practice that we all participate in? What customs do we repeat? What foods do we choose to eat?
This nation grew from cultivation of the land, often manipulating forced labor through violence. Just as often, the true planters were skilled farmers imported as property precisely for their knowledge of the art of growing food. Some of the women came with seeds in their hair. All of the bloodlines came with reverence for the Earth and the magic of life.
We accept the duty that comes with loving nature. We have come to share space and voice with growers globally. But what are the challenges? Why are the choices so important? Are we ready to accept the leadership of women, growers and peace makers? In fact, these are the required skill sets for this transition period in our culture. We need births — healthy, full-term new beings delivered in water, nourished on fluid formed from whole foods, foraged and farmed in our season and sun light.
We are told in business to replicate ourselves when our methods are proven lucrative or efficient. Still, many of us are terrified to reproduce. We face our own filth when we think of bringing children to this planet and then fall to fear when confronting our pollution and climate collapse.
Why would the replication of business models and organizational structures be worth promoting if the humans required in the projected equations are ashamed to love themselves? It is love of self that contributes greatly to healthy children being born to supportive families participating in vibrant communities.
Honoring the Gifts from Nature
Food, clothing, shelter, education and health are core gifts of nature when She is respected and cared for. In fact it is the Earth that directly produces three of the five gifts and these three create the context for health and enlightenment to be achieved. Upon this reflection, it stands to reason that as we move forward with increasingly expanding capacity for the simple truth of Earth workers, near to the soil, planting lush diversity while simply witnessing nature’s patterns. They must be honored for their commitment!
The small-scale farmers must be valued for their irreplaceable wisdom. We must ask them to share this wisdom in order to redirect the destructive energy of the western psyche. Can we continue to feed on the flesh of animals from large-scale operations and expect comfortable weather patterns? Is it reasonable to expect our globe to remain livable if the animal agriculture industry continues to produce these extreme levels of pollution? The dead zones in the oceans, erosion on hillsides, hurricanes and wildfires are clear indicators of the crisis we are in.
A Few Facts on the State of the World
Do these facts below reinforce the need for local veganic growers?
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. (Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?” WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19. Animal Feed Science and Technology “comment to editor” Goodland, Anhang. The Independent, article Nov. 2009.)
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56 percent of water in the US. (Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.)
1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk. (Water Footprint Network, "Product Water Footprints". A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products, WFN.)
Livestock-rearing activities have occurred on 45 percent of the earth’s total land. (Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011). IPCC AR5 WG# Chapter 11, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Us (AFOLU) )
130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US. (Animal agriculture: waste management practices. United States General Accounting Office.)
90-100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. (“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” FAO. 2012. (pg 6, 20) Montaigne, fen. “Still waters: The global fish crisis.” National Geographic.)
Do these stress indicators strengthen the argument for plant-based nutrition education? Can we agree to use war dollars at home to secure the children and spouses of soldiers in the war against cancer, diabetes and malnutrition?
Reflections on Agroecology and a Saner Path Forward
Many small-scale growers joined recently to declare their commitment to global agroecological practices. This public cry includes challenges to current land grabs in Africa as well as historic attitudes shaping foreign policy. Land must be returned to those who know how to serve it in a manner that supports life.
We are the peace makers, mothers and growers. We are in solidarity with women of Africa, India and Mexico who grow food and carry water long distances.
This is the season we change. This year, we acknowledge a cosmic power recently called the Christ. In this season of potential consumer foolishness, pause and reflect how best to invest your gift money.
Give to the planet. Give to your family. Love yourself. Grow space for nature in your life. Calculate the cost of Christmas. Budget the benefits of a boycott from the corporate plan. Examine the well structured plans to save our planet. Then follow them.
In partnership with the organization m.a.m.a. earth, Eugene Cooke travels and presents the “Grow Where You Are” workshop series and book. After years of working as an independent contractor supporting urban agriculture organizations, Eugene established Grow Where You Are, LLC, to create a structure for the collaborative efforts of local food heroes. The main hub for Grow Where You Are is the Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Center in Southwest Atlanta where clean food is grown in a system that preserves the ecology and supports the people. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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