Who would you be without Big Ag?

Sep 12, 2015
Vicki Robin

wendell berry memeYesterday I brought home from various sources 2 big bags of veggies – some local, some from afar (but on sale… ever frugal). As I snipped off the leaves from the radishes and carrots and washed them, I thought how privileged I am to have such bounty without lifting more than a shopping bag. What would be different if I had to grow all these myself?

Just about everything.

I would work with my hands more than my head. Whether that would be joy or drudgery would probably be part attitude, partly a successful crop.

I would probably not over-eat. I might eat more since I would expend more energy. I would probably not be thin, except in lean years, because I would not be obsessed with appearance but rather enjoying the food – and staying strong.

I would probably not waste anything. In part because I eat it. In part because I’d probably have the cycle of life in my backyard, including worms and chickens and maybe a goat or two.

And I would not have the luxury of living alone. Food production has always been done in family and community. Single, the fastest growing lifestyle in the US, may be a by-product of industrial agriculture. Take food production off the table, so to speak, and put money on it and you have high rises and mega-malls and cineplexes and computers. And you have people who have no kin and have forgotten how to grow food.

I enjoy local eating. I love growing some food (kale every day year is my best crop) and knowing the lay of the land – where i can forage and glean, where the farm stands and friends who raise animals are. I love supporting my local farmers through buying and cajoling others to buy their food. But this is not my motivation for the 10-Day Local Food Challenge.

The Challenge comes out of my desire to wake us all up to the costs and unintended consequences of the way we eat. Year by year we are sliding further towards a world where the basics of life are provided by a corporate industrial system we cannot see nor control but that owns our lives. Not through evil but through having put to work the resources of the earth in service to our species survival. Every step of the way the progress has come from solving problems of hunger, disease, disability, aging, lack. My one sentence explanation for most of what we see in our world, for better or worse, is: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We don’t have to garden or farm to be food system change makers – though hands in the dirt is so nourishing. We need to be awake, as I was today washing those veggies and am most every day, to the agriculture we are supporting by the food we are buying and that how we participate in our daily bread does make a difference to the future of our world.


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