Thursday, April 7, 2011

A rant

"Well-behaved women seldom make history."
~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

My brain is buzzing with about a thousand thoughts this morning. I'm often one to embellish, but today that figure actually seems like an underestimate. Last night I attended a lecture on the future of food and farms and while I was hoping to be inspired, turns out I was outraged.

While some of the information presented was interesting, too much of the nitty-gritty was platitudes, generalizations and even deflections, especially when the speakers were asked to address burning issues such as GMOs, international trade agreements, barriers to entry for the next generation of farmers (it costs a new farmer $1 million to buy a dairy quota, which simply gives him or her the authorization to sell milk -- you still need to buy the land, the cows, the equipment and so on!) and national policies (or the lack thereof) regarding farm succession, land access and the growing, processing and selling of food produced on small farms.

Outrage is a valid response, but hysterical over-reaction is not. That's where education comes in. Since moving to the farm, I've maintained that our lifestyle isn't for everyone: no one can or should be moving to the country to become more self-sufficient. But I think we're all responsible for educating ourselves about just how broken our industrial food system is -- then demanding that policy makers do something different. While I understand that not everyone cares as much as about small farms as I do, we should all care about our food and by extension, where it comes from.

I've always felt compelled to 'make a difference' and since the birth of my children, most of my energy has been directed fulfilling this purpose through them; simply by raising them in a loving and secure home that tries to tread lightly on this earth and maintain a reverence, respect and appreciation for the natural systems that sustain us. I still stand by that belief and it is the force that grounds and inspires me to do better, be better, for they are the ones who will inherit our planetary mistakes, as well as our triumphs.

But I also have a voice -- one that can perhaps incite or inspire change beyond the borders of our farm. Perhaps it's time to start using it.*

* I don't know if these are thoughts I will share on this blog or perhaps I'll start another one for my rants and revelations. I just had to get this one off my chest. Stay tuned...

9 comments:

Mama Pea said...

Please do continue to write. You do it so eloquently and if we don't each "speak up" in our own way, we will go down. (Not that going down WITH a fight is an attractive option.) And no, I'm not suggesting a bloody revolution of any kind, but if we continue to be voiceless sheep our children will, indeed, be the ones to suffer.

Fiona said...

Thanks, Mama Pea. I'm a very emotional and passionate person and I know I get all wound up when I'm confronted with injustice. But I'm also the first to advocate non-violent revolutions; in my case, utilizing the power of words....

Erin said...

Please write them! I know sometimes it feels like you might be preaching to the choir but I think it would boggle your mind how many lurkers or surfers are out there that visit your blog to learn something or get inspired to change. I often think if everyone stopped worrying about changing the world and instead just changed their family, the rest would fall into place. Change begins at home right? Let's hope it becomes contagious!

Fiona said...

Thanks, Erin. I like what you said about change begins at home -- it's so true AND empowering for people! It can be very, very hard to create shifts in public policy and thinking but you can change the way you live. It's about walking the talk, right?

Tracey said...

I agree with Erin! Please continue to write...it really does make a difference.

Mama Pea said...

Yes, change begins at home. I'm fond of saying "charity begins at home" and most people don't understand what I mean. One of the meanings of charity is "an act or feeling of benevolence, good will, or affection." I knew a woman who was very well-intentioned and good-hearted and spent not only time but money helping others in any way she could. But she neglected doing what needed to be done to nurture her own family and raise well-adjusted children. If she had done that I feel she would have contributed, by far, more to society. Erin's right; change begins at home. And charity begins at home. We all still have the chance to do that.

Fiona said...

@Tracey -- thanks! Your support means a lot!

@ Mama Pea -- I find it comes back to finding that tricky balance between nurturing your family and yourself. Dealing with these kinds of social justice issues is such a part of who I am, but so is always being there for my children. I figure there is a balance to be had and that will continue to shift as they get older. For now, my #1 priority is simply being 'mum' but it's good to keep those brain cells primed too!

Mr. H. said...

There are definitely two very distinct and opposite methods of farming aren't there...and only one is sustainable for future generations. Like you said, we really should all care more about where our food comes from. I hope you continue to rant about these issues and I love your Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote.:)

Fiona said...

Thanks, Mr. H. I understand how hard it is for folks to connect with these issues with less than 2% of the population living on farms, but we all eat food -- and as you said, the way we're growing/importing/processing it is unsustainable. I appreciate how tricky the situation is: farmers are being forced to get bigger or risk losing their farms, but it's a short-term/one-generation solution to a massive long-term problem. Hmmm... Looks like I've got the start of another rant coming, lol! And yes, I love that quote too -- very inspiring!

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