Monday, December 28, 2009

Planning for the Future

I had a wonderful conversation with a family member over the holiday. He just watched Food, Inc. and suggested that I watch it (*grin*). At which point I informed him that the subject of that movie has been the focus of my life for the past two years or more ;), and I offered to let him borrow Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Apparently, he doesn't like to read, and so I may have to get him Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat :).

Encouraged by his excitement in finding someone who was informed about the topics the movie discussed, we talked about all sorts of things from how the industrial food chain treats the animals in their care to Monsanto and their underhanded antics, and I told him about the Safe Seed program of which Johnny Seed is a member.

When we got home and checked our mail, there was my catalog, and I exclaimed, "Merry Christmas to me!"

Right inside the front cover is Johnny's Safe Seed Pledge in which they state that they do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered or modified seeds or plants.

A few years ago I was a participant in a short debate, the gist of which was that one person said there was no way to know where the food came from unless we grow it all ourselves, and no one can possibly do that. I didn't agree then, and now I know better. We can know where our food comes from, and all it takes is just a little bit of conscious effort.

Of course, that's the bottom line, right? Consciousness, being aware, paying attention.

It was so amazing to have that conversation with my family member and to know that it's catching on. For every person I meet who still thinks buying the 40 pack of frozen hamburg at Sam's Club is a great deal, I meet another who wouldn't touch those burgers with someone else's hand.

The family member expressed concern about Big Business's deep pockets when it comes to manipulating and controlling where our food comes from, and I said, it's true, that, not only do they control the food supply chain, but they also control our government. Afterall, when our Secretary of Agriculture (Tom Vilsack from Iowa) has a vested interest in Agri-business, and our Secretary of Treasury is the former CEO for the Federal Reserve with a hand in the hip pockets of the likes of Goldman-Sacks, Lehman Bros., and other big banks, we little guys don't stand a chance.

We, little guys, have no voice, because we don't have the money to put where our mouth is like the big guys, and it's all about the money, right?

And that's where I said, he was wrong. We do have a voice. It's tiny and squeaky, and they can't really hear it in Washington (especially from Maine with only two Repersentatives in Congress, against the five from Iowa, Secretary Vilsack's home state, or the thirty-two from Texas).

We may not have very many dollars as individuals, but collectively we have a lot, and every dollar I take out of the industrial food chain and every dollar my family member takes out of the industrial food chain makes our voices just that much louder.

I told him that Big Business is like the wind - loud and blustery and hard to ignore.

Me? I'm like a little, steady trickle of water. No one may even realize I'm here, but eventually, I will do far more to erode away that mountain than the wind.

Margaret Mead says, "A small group of thoughtful people can change the world .... It's very cool when I meet others in my everyday life, who are quietly working that change.

A small group of thoughtful people can change the world ...

... indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.


  1. It's always great to hear when someone takes an interest in this stuff. I have a question for you Wendy email me @ please :)

  2. Still waiting on our Johnny's catalog, but then I suppose you're closest to the source. Got the Fedco and Seedsavers already, and Territorial, from whom I've never yet ordered, arrived today.

    Nice to hear about this conversation with your relative. Let's hope the idea spreads and grows. Regarding his comment about lack of voice, I like Sharon Astyk's attitude: instead of asking ourselves if we're powerful enough to change the world, let's ask ourselves whether we're brave enough to try.

    Oh, and I like the beginning of Mead's quote: "*Never doubt that* a small group of thoughtful, committed people..." It adds a certain emphasis that I appreciate.

  3. Your post serves as a reminder that all of our individual little choices can result in big changes. Twenty years ago when I first started shopping at a natural food co-op, it was considered odd to support such a place. Today, I am no longer the only "different" one in my community as I join together with the many other people who have turned away from industrial food. Growing gardens, supporting farmer's markets, and shopping at natural grocery stores allows us to slowly bring about changes in our food system. Small voices, brought together collectively appears to be the only hope for change we have.

  4. Kate: I received my catalog from Territorial today, too :). Thanks for the correction re: Mead's quote. You are right that it does add an important emphasis.

    Darcy: It's nice, isn't it?, to be part of a group of people who "get it." I don't find that very often in my everyday world, which is why my online friends are such a huge part of my experience, but it's very cool when I meet someone who's on board, as it were.

    Matt: Thanks for the invite. I'm looking forward to getting more info about the thing you mentioned in your email ;).