in which the world can feed itself

Since I began my fascination with our provisioning, cooking and eating habits,  I find often blocking the way are the rock-solid walls inside our collective American mind.

What will it take to penetrate the stone walls of our collective American consciousness??

OK, there you go with the “chick’s goofy” eye rolling again, but here’s the thing. Again and again, in article after article, news clip after news clip it’s present; the gaping omission of alternative thinking. The stone wall every idea is smashed against isn’t an actual insurmountable obstacle, but a determined unwillingness to consider an alternative.

The standard editorial seems to offer two choices. One, we can accept things as they are, or two, there will be a Great Catastrophe.  Simple, black & white thinking that always argues to keep things as they are.

Why organic, sustainable farming can or can’t feed the world is a common target topic these days. Why doesn’t anyone ever ask what I want to know:

Who died and made America responsible for feeding the world?

Somewhere is there is a dictionary translating Corporation-ese to Human?  In it I’m sure “Feeding the World” is really code for “Don’t Rock the Boat”, or maybe “Sit Down and Shut Up”.

Am I crazy to also wonder why no one ever suggests that instead of feeding the world handouts we instead Teach the World to Fish?  Tiller’s International is quietly doing just that, with technology and methods third world countries are actually able to afford and maintain on their own.  Awesome, and by the way, they can use a little help.

Isn’t it just a little arrogant of us to believe these people aren’t capable of  feeding themselves without our help?   There are absolutely special circumstances  where a simple handout of  food is the right thing to do.  But get them out of  a hard spot and help them restore their own sustainable food systems  – that’s a real gift.

Who says non-industrial eating  is elitist?  People who think we have only two dietary options, that’s who. And what are those options?

  1. The Standard American Diet
  2. Replicating the Standard American Diet with its exact equivalent in expensive, elite  foods

The argument that non-industrial food is elitist is true only if you refuse to expand your thinking a bit.  For example, if:

The world aspires to attain the American Dream which includes a heaping plate of CAFO pork chops, boneless chicken breasts, plate sized steaks and all you can eat farmed seafood each and every day, three times

We continue to eat the whim of the day instead of what we planned for the day from the seasonal, bulk ingredients we sourced from real farms

We continue to throw away up to 40% of the food we buy

We never learn how to cook with real, unprocessed ingredients

Nobody grows their own anything, ever

We continue to believe a stocked pantry not filled with instantly eatable boxed packaged food = nothing to eat

Of course, these same rock-solid walls exist every time any argument or idea challenges someone’s personal habits and there is no clear, single, black & white course of alternative action. Climate change, recycling, gas drilling, immigration, parenting, politics, abortion, animal welfare, tea partiers, occupy wall street-ers… you get the picture. Oops – la la la la la – I can’t hear you; bouncing right off that great stone wall in my head.

I get it. We don’t want to change. It’s inconvenient and hard.  We fight to skew circumstances to reflect our correctness. We close our ears to evidence that we may be mistaken. While reading articles that challenge our view of reality, we don’t allow ourselves to entertain any doubt.  Instead, we avoid the message by busying ourselves   formulating witty, snarky and dismissive retorts rather than ruminating on the possibility the article may have a valid point.

I could go on, but I’m sure I’ve already challenged your ability to care if you’ve even lasted this long.

Maybe, just maybe, 2012 can be a year we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a little uncomfortable, fearsome, confidence-shattering listening? How about it – are you in?

11 thoughts on “in which the world can feed itself

  1. I’m in as much as my upbringing will allow. After all, I went to public school, and this fine institution was designed to produce uniform thinkers (or non-thinkers if we want to be truly cynical). Looks like it’s worked pretty well.

    Anyway, now that I’ve offended you and/or some of your readers, I agree with you that we need to get away from thinking that we must feed the world. While it is our responsibility (especially those of us who are people of faith) to help the poor, there are two kinds of help. Hand up or hand out. If you think about it, hand outs should be a temporary fix during a season of distress. And the reestablishment of sustainable farming practices can be done at the same time by other folks, as long as there is relative peace and safety in the region.

    Gee, sounds like the way we should handle unemployment and poverty in our own country.

  2. I’ve been in for awhile already ;)

    I think a good place to start is feeding ourselves…and I really mean feeding ourselves. Like, growing carrots and potatoes and making stew from scratch. That’s a journey my husband and I started many years ago, and it has led us to some really interesting places. Right now, we’ve got goats and chickens and a big ole garden. Most people wouldn’t go so far (and shouldn’t need to), but you get a whole new respect for food and waste once you’ve put in the effort yourself.

    I also think a return to peasant food is in order – local ingredients, more veggies, more whole grains, and less meat – better for the environment, and better for our health. Also, it allows you to feed more people with less space, which is the sort of thing that will allow the world to feed itself…

    1. It is amazing how much greater your respect and appreciation for food becomes when you create it yourself.
      Calling it a journey is a good analogy – it really is and one with so many unexpected delights.

      And peasant food’s the best anyway : )

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment jj…

  3. I’m in. And just for the record, it was John McCain who referred to non-industrial farming as elitist. There is a better way and that better way can begin right here. I’d love to talk more with you about this sometime.

    1. That’s great Tammy : )

      John McCain wanted to discontinue some of the hopeful newer farm initiatives too, calling them elitist.
      Real farming = corporate industrial farms that can “feed the world”.

      Not that he would be suffering if real food became scarce… I’d like a peek into his pantry.

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