Laura Bruno – GMO’s And Food Security – 21 November 2013

laura-of-the-rocksI haven’t blogged much about this because I wanted the event to stand for itself, but three of us from Transition Goshen reached out to organizations and creative, involved individuals in our city and nearby Elkhart to put together a dynamic week called Share the Bounty. We and partners like our local food co-op, the Farmers Market, individual farmers, a local food alliance, directors of food banks, Church Community Services, local politicians, community gardeners, representatives from schools, and many others are joining together this week for round table discussions, public screenings of the film “A Place at the Table,” an Open Space meeting about food security, a co-op board meeting open to the public, and a Harvest Festival that donates funds to double SNAP credits at the Farmers Market. Last night I attended a food insecurity panel discussion hosted by Goshen College’s EcoPAX.

I am both humbled and thrilled on a moment by moment basis to be a part of this community. The level of caring, cooperation, devotion, creativity and willingness to get down and dirty (sometimes literally) with our community’s (and country’s) most pressing problems is astounding to me. Every person I’ve met this week and during the two weeks of planning, phone calls, meetings, discussions and emails that have resulted in this week … without exception, every single person has blown me away. I learned that after the 2008 crash, some areas of Elkhart County experienced 70-80% unemployment. Let that sink in a moment. 70-80%. We didn’t live here then, so when we arrived grassroots strategies had already developed by sheer necessity. Today, Goshen has experienced a real renaissance, especially in the areas of local businesses, music and local, organic food.

But we are far from finished addressing the 2008 downturn. The stories I’ve heard talking with teachers, guidance counselors and food pantry workers are heart wrenching, and they reveal a majorly broken system. Expanding welfare and food stamps isn’t going to solve the problem. Neither is getting a third job. Last night we discussed ways of — OK, I brought this up myself — “busting the entire paradigm, breaking through the box, when two jobs isn’t doing it, the third job’s not the solution. Who’s telling these people to quit their second job and volunteer at a CSA and get abundant, free food? Who’s telling these people how to assess their community’s needs (fresh, local food) and helping them to become entrepreneurs? The system’s broken. Why are we trying to expand it? Let’s build a new system.” To my surprise and delight, I was showered with business cards, offers to connect with grant writers, local farmers saying they would love the extra help in exchange for giving free food, local businessmen excited about how providing living wages in one area forces places that aren’t to start improving their wages or they won’t have employees … . Ideas were off the charts!

I have confidence that we are onto something in our area, and food security is gradually beginning to morph towards food sovereignty.

It is with this background — six months of efforts to increase community gardens and implement food forests in projects that specifically engage those who most need them, as well as November’s incredible push to get this event off the ground — that I wrote the following comment in reply to someone’s reply to my earlier comment on Jon Rappoport’s blog. It’s long, but I present it here for larger consideration by people frustrated that we still don’t have GMO labels, bans or even the awareness that such things might be necessary for the continued survival of many species, including our own:

@CriticalThinker, I agree with you that “having a different opinion than someone else and presenting supporting evidence and logical arguments for this viewpoint isn’t ‘attacking people’.” I was referring to numerous earlier posts that have resorted to name calling, outright mockery, misquoting and unsupported (though suspected) allegations, which I WOULD put into the category of attacking people.

RE: “raising consciousness,” I am referring to everything from discussions about what is in GMO labeled food; to teaching people how to prepare fresh, mostly raw organic food and encouraging them to see how their brain works differently; to yes, some of these commercials and strategies Jon suggests; to offering various models of how a positive, healthy world could look for people who are so far from that mindset or awareness that they can’t (yet) even imagine what that would look like.

Before you call that last one vague, I will share that we are actively doing this at the local level where I live, and I know that other towns and cities have pockets of people doing the same. The message in this case isn’t “Your food is poison,” because some of the people we’re working with don’t even HAVE food. At the local level, we have organic farms dedicated to feeding the poor high quality food, teaching them how to make that food and helping them to get back on their feet enough so that they have time and energy even to CARE about something like GMO’s. The unpleasant fact in the US is that an embarrassingly large portion of the population is food insecure, living on ramen noodles (no exaggeration) and/or dependent on SNAP and food banks. Processed, crap, GMO food is usually the cheapest, unless local farmers find ways to shift that dynamic — and we are here. They are in Milwaukee. They are in Oakland … and Detroit … and many other places.

This is a very large portion of the population who is being courted by certain political parties (no, I don’t believe in that whole system, but the system itself has turned this part of the population into a very large pawn). I am not disagreeing with Jon’s points, just wondering why someone who champions imagination as the key to everything shares so few positive imaginings and seems so intent on lampooning other routes and strategies attempting to achieve similar goals. I agree “Right to Know” has not been a winning campaign. Not including at least some of the why was, imho, a mistake. Where I disagree is that ALL labeling campaigns, including CA and WA, are therefore worthless. I also disagree that there is only one way to raise awareness that leads to a ban, i.e. blasting the airwaves with how toxic everything is.

I don’t claim to know Jon’s sources and contacts or what social circles he runs in. I just know that I have lived in 42 different places across the US — some extremely ritzy, some poor, some mountain areas, some coastal, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northern and Central California Coasts, Chicago, Madison, smaller Midwest towns, North Carolina, the Northeast Corridor, including the Philadelphia area and much time in NYC, and more. Too many to list. A one size fits all approach is unlikely to fit such a diverse area or the concerns of such a wide variety of people. In California, everyone I knew (except my now ex-husband) ate organic and mostly raw food. In Northern Indiana, we have a huge grassroots organic gardening, farming and community garden culture, but we’re surrounded by GMO corn syrup growers on the one hand and Amish people without TVs or a desire to vote, on the other. I have seen first hand that what works to raise awareness in Northern California is not the same as in Sedona is not the same as in Goshen, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois. They are each radically different places filled with individuals but also with their own local and state values that may or may not be shifted most effectively by a political campaign.

Ignoring the enormous contingency of people in this country (who do vote because they want to keep their SNAP cards) who are too frazzled working three jobs and traveling among different food banks is a mistake, imho. That COULD be a very vocal contingency, since they already ARE vocal about a number of other things. In order to get these people to care about GMOs, education is required, but they are just going to tune out the above message [that everything is poison]. How do I know this? Because I know some of these people, and I know a lot of people who work in food banks, community services and social work. Together, we are working on a very local and county level to increase access to and demand for fresh, organic foods. Most of us would love a ban on GMOs, but there are layers and layers of education and action needed in our communities. Before someone is going to care if their pop tarts are going to give them cancer in seven years, they need to know they can put food on the table tomorrow night. This is a reality in much of the US — a much larger contingency than most people want to imagine. The research is there, though. There are many roads to the same goal … sometimes it just helps to know the people who COULD be traveling such roads.

www.laurabruno.wordpress.com / link to original article

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