Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Join the Counter Revolution

I felt that familiar surge of outrage coursing through my veins this morning. And I have to admit that it felt good. I've been curled up a little too tightly inside my own mind for the past few weeks to get fired up about much of anything. It's not that I like to walk around feeling outraged, but sometimes that little kick in the pants gets me going, gets me re-energized to fight the good fight. So what did it for me on this sunny February morning? I'm home from work today so I decided to finish watching Deborah Koons Garcia's documentary called The Future of Food. Amazingly, Netflix started carrying the film so I quickly moved it into the first position in our queue. I'm glad that I did.

Much of what Garcia outlines in the film is territory that I know well about the emergence and prevalence of genetically modified foods and what it means for the future of agriculture. But the film is certainly worth a viewing because it ties together the strings quite well and connects the rise of agricultural biotechnology with global corporatism and the decline of subsistence and family farming. The film intertwines interviews with Andrew Kimbrell, who runs The Center for Food Safety, and Fred Kirshenman, who directs the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, along with the viewpoints of farmers like Percy Schmeiser and others who have stood up to the agribusiness giants. Just when I found myself getting furious about our blind adherence to the technology and corporate will, Garcia seemed to sense that it was time to talk about a different world, a new possibility, in her words: a counter revolution.

This revolution wouldn't rely on corporations to feed the world. It would acknowledge that hunger isn't caused by a scarcity of food. Instead, hunger in the world is an issue of access, of policies, of distribution, of injustice. It won't be solved by the introduction of "terminator seeds" that cannot be saved for the next year's crop and may pollute and cross-pollinate with natural seeds. It's certainly not solved by petroleum and input-centric farming mechanisms that make farmers dependent on multinational corporations for high yields of cash crops for export. And more technology isn't the answer either. Kimbrell tells us that the US is currrently reviewing whether to allow genetically modified fish, insects, trees, livestock, and poultry. Of course, these beings could lead to the extinction of species that have existed and evolved with nature. Are we so foolish to think that we can outsmart nature or God? Garcia's film concludes that the real revolution is focused on sustainable agriculture, organic farming, farmers markets, CSAs, and standing up for the logic of nature. The film ends with shots of anti-GMO protests and interviews with the couple who organically farm the diverse and beautiful Full Belly Farm in California. These are juxtaposed with images of gas mask adorned men spraying fields of strawberries with chemicals and a fresh faced boy slugging a can of Coke. The choice, these images tell us, is clear. Garcia gently exhorts us: it's up to you.

For some ideas on how to combat GMOs, see my last post on frankenfoods and the related links. Also check out Food First and, by all means, watch Garcia's film. Reliance on the kind of technology that is overtaking one of our most intimate acts, eating, makes us feel helpless and disenfranchised. In Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life, Kimbrell says it well:
"This is the century of the technological imagination. We think we can do anything with enough research & development - even find the genes that control aging so that we can achieve immortality. But most spiritual traditions say that limits are important, limits bring transcendence. When we are playing music, holding a baby, making love, pitching a great fastball - those moments are meaningful and beautiful in and of themselves."
I would add sharing a wholesome meal, growing our own food, choosing beautiful organic fruits and vegetables, and living in harmony with nature to Kimbrell's list. Call it a transcendent revolution. It can be beautiful and simple. But it requires us to make different choices every day. It requires vigilance and commitment. A sense of humor helps too. It's our future. Isn't it worth it?

*The t-shirt and others like it are from


  • At 2:44 PM, Blogger downpatter said…

    L--I'm really enjoying your posts. You really are hitting the heart of the issue (ALL the issues) its about what we consume, and food is the most intimate and necessary staple of our consumption...of course. Have you stumbled upon Lynn Twist's "The Soul of Money"? Its all about sufficiency in the face of the modern assumption of scarcity.
    Anyway, keep it up!
    Blessings to your family.

  • At 12:26 AM, Blogger spiral said…

    I've been doing more cooking lately, and this post tied nicely to how good it's felt to be together those ingredients instead of getting them from a box. I feel how different just cooking--chopping vegetables, making my own sauces, etc.--can be when I spend time with my family, many of whom do much of their cooking from boxes. In fact, it's only in the last few years that I learned how to cook and learned things like "garlic doesn't come from a jar." I should write about this relationship with food, as it epitomizes modern American ideas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger lauren said…


    So very nice to hear from you, my friend. Thanks for your kind words. I've been in need of encouragement recently. I haven't read the book you suggested, but I'm going to add it to the long, ever-growing list. I hope that the stars align and our little family is able to share a nice meal and glass of wine with you and talk about all of these things.


    I'm always inspired by people like you who start cooking after growing up with the typical American boxed food, jarred garlic diet. I really think that, among the other problems with that type of diet, many people are missing out on the beautiful creativity that comes from planning and cooking meals with fresh ingredients. It's a connection with the soil, the farmer and the person who is going to share the meal with you. Looking forward to reading your post!


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