There was one final thing I wanted to present from the conference before moving on ? what’s going on in agriculture that many are unaware of.
Although it was plenty disturbing that Autism has increased from 1 in 10,000 to more than 1 in 100 in just 15 years, nothing could be more horrifying than what is currently taking place in agriculture. Most people simply have no idea.
I’m not that well-versed in agriculture, legalities, etc., but I do know the basics. One is that biotechnology is rapidly expanding its dominion over the world. By biotechnology I mean genetic engineering. By genetic engineering I mean splicing DNA from one organism into another to create a futuristic pseudo-hybrid. The potential disastrous consequences of this technology spanning the globe, which it is currently doing at an unprecedented rate, are astronomical. Please watch this video for information from author Jeffery Smith if you wish to be fully informed. The documentary, The Future of Food, is also a great source of information.
The primary corporation pushing this agenda is Monsanto. The FDA is aware of the potential dangers of biotechnology, but the FDA is practically controlled by Monsanto, not the other way around. How is this possible? Nearly every Monsanto executive, past and present, has or is working at the upper levels of the FDA. Likewise, many high-ranking FDA officials are or have worked for Monsanto and its subsidiaries. The ties between the two entities is enough to, as my grandmother would have said, ?make yer? butt draw up.
Monsanto and other GMO (genetically modified organism) monoliths have also recently taken it upon themselves to buy out nearly every small seed company on earth. When chemical companies (who have a real vested interest in our health ? not) monopolize the seed industry, and genetically modify what is called a terminator gene (which keeps seeds from reproducing ? a leveraging tool against small farmers and the 10,000 year-old practice of seed saving), and GMO’s are known to cross-pollinate via wind with other plants, we have a bit of a situation on our hands. No matter what your personal or religious beliefs are, no matter how you feel about the use of vulgarities, your reaction the fact that this is happening should be nothing other than ?oh shit. This ?wonderful new agricultural technology? has real potential to cross-pollinate with wild plant species and render their seeds infertile for future generations. This is uh, bad. Not good. No bueno.
Even trends that appear sound and healthy like the Organic movement have turned out to totally backfire. Years ago small American farmers came to the government (oops), asking for a way to legally distinguish their properly cultivated foods from modern industrial methodologies. The term “organic” became legally protected, and since then the word ?organic? has been repeatedly denigrated to the point where it means very little. Also, most organic foods are coming from huge conglomerate farms in California and South America, where they are produced for pennies of what a small farmer growing ecologically sustainable food can profit from. Small real farmers used to compete against pesticide-laced cheap crap. Now they are competing against pesticide-free cheap crap from Argentina that most people feel really good about buying and don’t see a reason to buy local real food.
Plus, all major organic food companies are subsidiaries of corporate giants like Kraft and Cadbury. Organics are now officially massive profit-driven entities. It is a small step in the right direction (organic products do not contain pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, or GMO’s) but is by no means a long-term solution. When food is a large scale profit-driven entity there are negative consequences to the quality of that food. Short-term financial gains and long-term health and sustainability are often in stark contrast to one another. As a society, as long as we continue to be obsessed with cheap crap, the more we will create a reality where nothing but cheap crap exists. The only way to opt out is to seek quality and ignore price (yes, this does seem like a far-fetched reality, and yes I do think we are probably all screwed).
But before giving up completely and letting Wal Mart be the only food distributor in our country (forecasted to be a reality in the not too distant future ? one of six worldwide), I urge anyone and everyone to buy real food, whatever the cost may be, from your local farmer. Americans currently spend a smaller percentage of their total incomes on food than any human beings have in history ? as little as 10%. 60 years ago Americans spent approximately one third of our incomes on food. Believe me (who has made as little money as any American citizen for the last decade and eaten increasingly more quality local food), you can spare a little extra for real farm food.
Joel Salatin, one of the world’s most vocal and well-known small farmers, gave the closing address at this year’s conference on the emancipation of food. His comedic evangelist aura make him truly one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever had the pleasure to see, but many conference attendees, myself included, had to hold back tears throughout as Joel painted a vivid picture of just how threatened wholesome food really is.
At the conference we also had the opportunity to hear from a Canadian farmer whose farm was raided by a virtual SWAT team of officers. He and his family, woefully frightened, were horded into a single room of their house while government officials tore through their farm and dumped thousands of dollars worth of quality milk down the drain. This kind of thing is really happening. Farmers producing real food are living in a state of paranoia, and this harassment drives farmers away and keeps more from getting into the business in the first place. It’s all a deterrent to eliminating small farmers and advancing the mega-corporate model of agriculture to monopolistic status.
It’s not often that I preach anymore about what people should do. I provide information for people wanting to know efficient ways to improve their health and prevent illness if they are inspired to be proactive in doing so. If not, fine. But if I want healthy foods to be available for me and my friends and family, I can’t do it alone. I need your support. I need you to buy your food directly from farmers and at farmer’s markets instead of from Safeway or even Whole Foods. Do it because it tastes better. Do it to support a small farmer who is following what he believes is the right way to treat our ecosystem. Do it because it’s more nutritious. Do it because it is more enriching to know where your food comes from.
I hope to awaken within your soul a righteous indignation against the entrenched political-industrial-bureaucratic food fraternity and a deep love for farmer-healers who love their land, plants, animals, and patrons?Much depends on how this slug-fest between the powerful industrial forces and the grassroots local food movement turns out.?
– Joel Salatin; 2007, excerpt from Everything I Want to Do is Illegal