Will Allen, organic farmer ~ Change Your Diet ~ Buy Local
… the largest elephant in the room of climate chaos is our food and farming system. And hardly anyone is talking about it … We need to change our food habits. We need to stop eating factory-farmed meat and milk products. Since over 90 percent of all non-organic meat, dairy and eggs in the U.S. come from factory farms, we need a nationwide boycott and marketplace pressure, in the form of a CAFO labeling campaign.
Will Allen, Ph.D., organic farmer/teacher/activist and author of The War on Bugs, isn’t one to mince his words, and his keynote at the second Healing Our World and Ourselves Conference at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach last week, documented exactly what kind of mess we are in and what we have to do to get out of it.
Like Vandana Shiva and the permaculture community, Allen delivers a clear message: since agriculture as it is currently practiced is “the single largest contributor of greenhouses gases,” we must eliminate the products of factory farms and create new markets for local, organic, sustainable agriculture by voting with our food dollars. That such a shift in diet could also eliminate some of the diseases of the so-called rich world is already in the popular culture via books (Michael Pollan. “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.) and television shows (the ubiquitous Dr. Oz). (And yes, it will reduce belly fat.)
Compared to some of the latest techno fixes for “energy shortfalls” (some euphemism!) that come across my desk regularly, e.g. the moon as a solar plant, the switch to organic, locally-sourced crops and humanely-raised livestock seems like a reasonable strategy. The myth that organic food is too costly has been debunked, see my post Externalities. And it wins the taste test, hands down. But it would be naïve to imagine that Big Ag will give up without a fight, any more than Big Oil will suddenly switch to renewables.
What to do? For one thing, you might post the link (see below) to Will Allen’s article to your social media circles. You could pay a virtual visit to Cedar Circle Farms and see how he is training the next generation of farmers. Perhaps you can fund a scholarship or two while you’re at it. Educate yourself on the subject (see More Reading). If you want to join the next march against Monsanto, have at it! But look into your own eating and food-sourcing habits first. With a 4°C warmer world already looming, we can’t afford the decades it took to make cigarette smoking decidedly uncool, or to get folks to routinely recycle.
Here are a few more things you can do today: check labels in your own pantry of staples and make a plan to eliminate all GMOs; don’t eat or minimize consumption of processed foods; ask your supermarket for more organic produce; let the meat and dairy departments know you want products from pastured, humanely raised livestock.
Here are a few things you can do in the coming weeks/months: Go meatless as much as possible (here’s a great recipe for Hummus); grow something, however limited your space. It just feels good; when you buy organic produce, SAVE YOUR SEEDS; compost your vegetable wastes; get familiar with the laws in your community – on the books or unspoken – against backyard vegetables and/or small livestock. You don’t know until you check. For example, most of us think we don’t have the right to solar panels if we live in an HOA. Actually, this is not true. Use your farmers markets to support the farmers and ranchers in your area. Get to know your farmer. Some, like our CSA Kai-Kai Farms, use pesticide-free sustainable methods, but are not certified organic. We trust them. That’s good enough for us.
If you have an idea for a good PSA on this or related topics, let me know. If the idea of using social media to spread the word lights you up, let’s collaborate. Let’s plant some virtual seed bombs around our neighborhoods and get this started.
Climate Chaos: Boycott Genetically Engineered and Factory-Farmed Foods, Will Allen and Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association
Cedar Circle Farm
Food Growing Summit 2014