I care a lot about the people I love and my fellow humans in general, so when I read about people being hurt, it really hurts me, too. I also see stewardship of our land as part of our responsibility to keep each other safe. In my opinion, humanism and sustainability are inextricably linked.
So, here is some news about how the well-being of our people is directly linked to our agricultural policies:
Immigration policy (obviously) affects farm workers most of all. What kind of solution will respect the rights and dignity of the people who feed America for so little compensation? Here is an article outlining some of the complications related to the legal status of farm workers.
A couple weeks ago, a panel advised a revision to our nutrition recommendations in order to include a push for sustainable foods. There was a huge backlash from those whose profits would be compromised by such a trajectory. Now, unfortunately, the folks in charge of dietary guidelines have caved and promise no mention of sustainability… even though the sustainability of our agricultural systems is directly linked to the availability of nutritious foods in the future. Sigh.
The National Institute of Health has released a 20-year study linking the use of certain pesticides with depression in farmers. Here is an article summarizing the findings and here is the write-up of the study itself.
You know those bumper stickers that say, “No Farms; No Food”? Let’s add “No Farmers; No Food” to that and take care of the men and women who feed us.
Speaking of putting people first…
Here is an interesting approach by Monsanto to improve its public image. Though “mommy bloggers” seem to be notoriously short on science comprehension but long on influence (e.g. the anti-vaccination movement), Monsanto has enlisted their help in painting the company not as a profit-hungry behemoth, but as a benevolent society of researchers trying to feed the world through science.
Now, here’s the deal. Monsanto has a bad rap because of its association with GMOs. (There have been no rigorous long-term studies showing that GMOs are dangerous in and of themselves. None, folks. Really. See my Resources page for more.) However, their claim that they are creating GMO food primarily to solve the world’s hunger problems strains credulity. Why would Monsanto be more interested in feeding the world than in making profit? They are not. They are a for-profit company with investors. It’s a bit disingenuous of them to insinuate otherwise by wining and dining gullible web personalities who will, they hope, puppet Monsanto’s marketing copy for cash.
On the topic of feeding the world, though, golden rice is one example where GM crops could make a difference, even though its distribution is embroiled in controversy and tangled up in red tape. It seems though, that this is a kind of band-aid solution- treating one symptom (hunger) of a larger problem (what shall we call it? Human perfidy? Hmm.). Perhaps it’s necessary for the time-being? What else can small groups of kind humans do in the face of cruelty, greed, corruption, etc.?
So to sum up, I’m thinking about what I want to cultivate in my “garden” today. I’d like to take better care of the people around me by feeding them healthy food that comes from sustainable practices which do not exploit the poor or cause illness in those who work so hard to allow us to eat well. Why is that so complicated??