While commercialism was birthing the industries listed in Ripple 2a, other endeavors were also being birthed. Among them:
- an environmental movement. It picked up the baton from the Sierra Club and Audubon Society. They had formed during an earlier time of preserving state and national lands as state and national parks or monuments. (Superb and visually stunning documentary: Ken Burns’, National Parks. Available for streaming on Netflix and PBS.)
- the Cooperative, or more widely known as “the co-op.” A collective of people who chose to meet their interests in health of self, soil, and world. The world started to get smaller as co-op buyers searched the world for organic or pesticide-free grains and produce for organizing co-op buyers. A “whole foods” market was born, giving people not only an alternative to foods produced by agribusiness but also a vested interest in a conscious lifestyle. (the counter culture again)
This new co-op need for the produce of the world introduced world foods into the American grocery store. This is a rare positive by-product of the competitive market forces. Picture it: in the 1960‘s grocery stores were establishing themselves as as improvement to the neighborhood mom-and-pop store or the general store many miles from home. Though it was bigger, stocked with newly processed cereals and packaged meats, the produce section was not what we see today. Potatoes, carrots, onions, and American fruits in local season is what was found.
The new co-operative markets now entered the scene. They scoured the world for organic or pesticide-free produce. Buyers found not only the foods but the people growing them, in other words, they found the world. For the American consumer the result was new and interesting produce that, for a couple of decades, often rotted on the grocery store shelf because it was different. But at the co-op, it was scooped up and tried. Chefs and explorers of the palate would try them. Those who had traveled abroad or haled from other countries cherished the opportunity to eat something familiar. Little by little the produce section grew. At first, items such as pomegranate, papaya, mango, and kiwi colored the produce shelves. Ultimately, a world food trade industry was established driven by America’s co-operative markets and birthed by the hippies of old.
Organic farming is today still considered counter culture. Organic, pesticide-free, or small farm farmers are definitely mavericks in the eyes of the system. The cost of organic anything is higher than an agribusiness version of the same. This is for one reason: organic farms are not subsidized by the US government. However, agribusiness is. It also receives tax breaks by the millions. Think about that for a minute. Healthy food is penalized with laws and unhealthy food is paid for twice by you and I. Once in taxes thus subsidies and then again at the check out counter of the store.
On top of that, to be certified organic is a significant and rigorous process. Again, and interestingly so, healthy is made difficult by the government while unhealthy is loosely regulated. As a result, it is quite difficult for organic farming to be profitable. Most who farm this way do so because it’s the right thing to do. This is another counter quality of it. It is counter to unethical, unhealthy, profit based food production. An organic attitude about food is counter to selfless and counter to agribusiness that serves one but harms many.
- the annual use of tons of pesticides and herbicides,
- as well as the Monsanto driven genetic modification of grain and produce staple foods, the health of Americans has plummeted while profits continue to rise. In the same time frame, organic and herbicide-pesticide free growers have struggled to keep the farm functioning. Thankfully, enough people have. As a result, the counter culture is becoming the conscious culture, not yet a majority but the American mindset is changing. The birds have fared better, but the bees are struggling. Colony collapse disorder is real and alarming. It is known that it is a result of monoculture farming thus the bees are malnourished and the pesticides.
Organic produce and products require choice which means an educated buyer. Movies such as Food, Inc., Supersize Me, Colony, and Fresh, the movie, are only a few generated by the need to get the truth out to a consuming population. Add to these the blogs, websites, and organizations that have sprung up in the last 20 years. They, in turn, are born from earlier organizing groups. CISA and local farmers markets are also born from Joni Mitchell’s anthem. (Most of these films are available for streaming on Netflix.)
There are easy things that each of us can do to make a significant impact on health, our lives, and lives of others. In doing so, we effect the interdependent One Life that is our world. Eating organic is one of those things. When we hold two packages of strawberries, one organic and one not, please remember:
- that your tax dollars are making the pesticide-laden strawberries the price they are.
- As a result, the astronomical cost of health care is part of that cheaper strawberry,
- as well as the disease that one will suffer from eating pesticide laden food. It if kills bugs and other plants, it is killing us and our children too.
- If we roll all the real costs into the pesticide-laden strawberries, they would cost double or triple what the organic berries cost. But alas, those costs are hidden to our eye. They don’t have to be hidden from our mind.
Thanks, Joni! Thank you, all you rebel farmers! Thank you to each person who grows their herbs and tomatoes in their back yard pesticide-free.