Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pressing the reset button

One of my favorite Good Food Fighters and dear friend Andy Sarjahani has been making enormous steps for sustainability at Virginia Tech and nationwide. Andy knows the power of civil disobedience and the values, tradition, and principles of our agrarian past.

Andy's post "Pressing the 'reset' button" on the Farms and Fields Project at Virginia Tech is worth reposting here (he knows I have a secret crush on Ben & Tommy). Plus, the cartoon is priceless.

Pressing the "reset" button

Below this post are two quotes from two of our forefathers that speak volumes about the value we once placed on agriculture. Of course, this was a much different time in our nation and planet’s history but they do beg some critical thinking.

As a TIME magazine cover story recently suggested, perhaps it may be time for a “Reset” in American culture. Our economy relies on seemingly incessant expansion – or what Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson would refer to as an “extractive economy”. How do we restore our economy, ensure jobs, nourish eaters (this includes humans, plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, insects) all while attempting to avoid the excess and extraction that has landed us in our current predicament?

Following the lead of Woody Tasch and his concept of “Slow Money” , I would argue that we must shift our focus and begin investing as if “food, farms, and fertility mattered”. Of course, I am no economist and cannot provide specific examples but the goal of this post is to suggest that there may be a better way. Many minds that are much brighter, more experienced, and articulate than myself have been working tirelessly to pave the path for a new train of thought here in the 21st century. We must restore the dignity to agriculture and one way to begin this process is investment in a food system that is socially, economically, and ecologically sound.

How do you invest? The first step would be to ask questions about your food – where did it come from? How did it get here? How was it produced? As you ask these questions, think about what you are okay with and what you are not okay with. If you aren’t okay with it, ask yourself why and then start using your own two hands to make it better (of course only if you want to).

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands”

- Thomas Jefferson

“Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war as the Romans did in plundering their conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture the only honest way; wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life, and virtuous industry.”

- Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

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