Monday, July 11, 2011

Dissemination (or Ash's Food Musings, Level 6)

At its base level, the Urban Land Scouts are about increasing awareness in the hopes that a change in awareness will lead to a change in behavior. One of the ways we do that is by talking about, writing about, and otherwise disseminating what we learn. In order to earn the Level 6 badge the Scout "shares information freely and teaches others what she knows." Most often this is in the form of a blog post (hence the punny image on the badge.) While you obviously don't have to be posting to the web to share information or teach others, the emphasis on blogging is a deliberate reminder that Urban Land Scouting is a contemporary effort. We're not neo-luddites longing for steam-powered appliances and horse-drawn transportation. We're working with what we've got, where we are. Lucky for us, we've got the world wide web.

Ash has been churning through the ranks of Urban Land Scouts and recently posted this short piece about her journey thinking about food. We repost it with her permission.

Food Musings

Anyone who follows my posts is well aware that food and where it comes from occupies much of my thought and energy of late. It all started almost two years ago when I went on a food de-tox that forced me to become aware of what I ate and the effect food had on my body and soul. I started thinking about food as medicine for my body and about food as energy. Of course, I couldn't think about food as energy without recognizing that perhaps, like all fuels, some sources of energy are more harmful to Mother Earth and her Creatures than others. We're all aware of the damage fossil fuels have done and continue to do to our environment. It turns out that the way we get almost all of our food in this country is having an even greater detrimental effect on Mother Earth and her Creatures.

Soon after arriving in Knoxville almost a year ago, I started volunteering at the Beardsley Community Farm. I ended up there after going to a reading at Carpe Librum. William Powers was there talking about his book, "Twelve by Twelve," after which he posed the question, "What's your twelve by twelve?" In other words, how much is enough? How much do we REALLY need? It's a bit hard to articulate how everything tied together for me, but pondering that question, thinking about food, and having a gnawing sensation that all was not right in the world of food production got me interested in learning more about organic farming and sustainable agriculture. Hence, I started volunteering at Beardsley and, a bit later, Liles Acres Organic Farm in Maryville. I also attended a series of Urban Land Scouts workshops whose focus was on land stewardship, sustainability, and growing and sharing one's harvest. I also started my own garden for the first time since I was a kid.

In short, almost everything I've been involved in for the past 10 months has involved food production. Inevitably, I eventually had to deal with the question of eating animals and animal products. Although I already knew some of the horrors of factory farms, I pretended (like almost everyone else in this country) that it wasn't really THAT bad and that the lives of turkeys and chickens were better than that of cows and pigs. So I stopped eating mammals but continued eating poultry. However, as I investigated further, here's what I found out: what I already knew was just the tip of the iceberg. The horrors were far worse and far more prevalent-epidemic, in fact. And 99% of the animals used for food in this country are "raised" on factory farms. Hens have it worse than any other animal, if that's possible.

Then I found out about industrial "fishing" that uses military technology to locate and remove whole schools of fish in one, huge "scoop," and about the countless sea creatures that are killed and wasted as "collateral damage."

So here I am today, not making a whole lot of sense and not at all sure what the answers are-we cannot feed 7 billion plus people with local, sustainable, humane farming practices, at least, not CHEAPLY, and not maintaining our current levels of gluttony-but with a deep conviction that how our food is raised, how it is treated, whether animal or vegetable, the quality of its life, matters. I have no doubt that most, if not all, of our diseases, physical, mental, and spiritual, are a direct result of what we put in our mouths and how it was treated before getting to us. A direct result of our disrespect for and disconnect from Mother Earth. A direct result of our lack of GRATITUDE. A direct result of our attitude of entitlement and ownership and expectation that everything was put on this Earth to serve us, come hell or high water.

Well, I think our attitudes and practices have gotten us in both.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. No, we cannot feed the entire planet using simple home-based organic farming methods. I think that raising chickens in the city is a good start. Each of us can have organic eggs - feeding our chickens stuff that we grow for them. The option of growing an extra row is a good one for apartment dwellers - but there are more of them than folks with their own yards and houses. It's a sticky problem to be sure. But eating less is also a position we need to look at - because lower caloric intake is associated with better health and longer lives. If one wants to live that long, that is....