Anyone who follows me on twitter can attest to my recent preoccupation with food. This is as a result of my decision to rise to a friend‘s challenge to be vegan for 30 days. I was vegan before for a period of 2 weeks after about 2 years of vegetarianism all of which halted when my anemia got the best of me and I had to go back to eating delicious ironful meat. But the politics never left my belief system and I have again succumbed to a desire to reduce my overall consumption and not willingly participate in animal suffering.
It had been a long time since I had considered my food intake, its production, and footprint so much and this week also marked my decision to actually do readings for my distance ed course in Politics and the Environment which saw me reading excerpts from Lester Brown‘s Plan B, particularly on the issue of global food sources. So I’ve got food on the brain:
Here in the west, our environmental discussion is greatly focused on our driving force: the automobile. Our popular eco-poli discussions focus on oil consumption and emissions reductions. Of course, oil is a force of international relations very important to issues of peace and security. But our bellies bloated with heavily-subsidized and abundant food are virtually blind and deaf to an interconnected and increasingly pressing issue: world food sources.
The excesses of the well-fed west spill over to the entire world. Our emissions change the climate which kills trees, reduces crop fertility and aquifers,degrades soil, and desertifies once arable lands all over the world; the trade and debt policies lorded over the developing world by the west and our institutions leave farmers with little other option than to monocrop, deforest precious forests, and use harmful chemicals which kill trees, reduce crop fertility and aquifers, degrade soil, and desertify once arable lands all over the world. Etc.
We now have had 6 consecutive years of grain deficit worldwide. You may have noticed that you pay an awful lot more for bread than you were a few years ago. Canada’s reaction has been to retain the grain for domestic use and sell only to ‘preferred customers’, leaving many starving states in the lurch. America, which controls more of the world’s grain than Saudi Arabia does of the world’s oil, uses portions of its precious supply for the creation of alternative fuels through a process that uses more energy to create the oil than is gained through use of the oil, driving up world costs of corn such that the corn-based diet of many Central Americans was recently priced out of their grasp. In fact, President Obama has recently made such a practice American policy. Maybe he feels its OK to have to start regulating how many SCAs-to-the-gallon (Starving Central Americans)cars get.
But of course, we in the west will not feel the worst effects of food shortages. Not even close. For the most part, we will still be able to afford food even at inflated prices. Some studies show that with climate change, we may actually see longer growing seasons in Canada and thus have more food, which precedence tells us we will horde for our rapidly obeseifying masses. And while many developing and transitioning countries will face massive loss of life and growing civil unrest, in some cases in already destabilized political environments, as water dries up and food becomes ever- scarcer, Canada’s uber-stable government, along with America’s unstoppable one, will be toasting one another with Great Lakes’ NAFTA water, poring over the 10s of millions of environmental refugee applications, which they will of course have the luxury of rejecting.
I used to be embarrassed when my grandparents gave thanks for food in restaurants. Now, despite being distanced from my Christian upbringing, I reflect with secular gratitude for every meal.