ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot
I never thought I’d see the day when one man could make such an enormous difference to the planet. We have just begun a new era of politics where, out of necessity, the people will now drive the agenda. The most powerful nation in the world – the one that contributes most to climate change and war – now has an administration willing to listen and respond to the needs of the people. There’s really only one thing left for the people to do: to decide what the future looks like so we may move there smoothly and easily.
A brilliant start can be found at www.fooddeclaration.org, a US website that has initiated a Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture. Will you sign up? The Declaration follows:
We, the undersigned, believe that a healthy food system is necessary to meet the urgent challenges of our time. Behind us stands a half-century of industrial food production, underwritten by cheap fossil fuels, abundant land and water resources and a drive to maximize the global harvest of cheap calories. Ahead lie rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population and the paradox of widespread hunger and obesity.
These realities call for a radically different approach to food and agriculture. We believe that the food system must be reorganized on a foundation of health: for our communities, for people, for animals and for the natural world. The quality of food, and not just its quantity, ought to guide our agriculture. The ways we grow, distribute and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared humanity, providing not only sustenance, but justice, beauty and pleasure.
Governments have a duty to protect people from malnutrition, unsafe food and exploitation, and to protect the land and water on which we depend from degradation. Individuals, producers and organizations have a duty to create regional systems that can provide healthy food for their communities. We all have a duty to respect and honour the labourers of the land without whom we could not survive. The changes we call for here have begun, but the time has come to accelerate the transformation of our food and agriculture and make its benefits available to all.
We believe that the following twelve principles should frame food and agriculture policy, to ensure that it will contribute to the health and wealth of the nation and the world. A healthy food and agriculture policy:
1. Forms the foundation of secure and prosperous societies, healthy communities and healthy people.
2. Provides access to affordable, nutritious food to everyone.
3. Prevents the exploitation of farmers, workers and natural resources; the domination of genomes and markets; and the cruel treatment of animals, by any nation, corporation or individual.
4. Upholds the dignity, safety and quality of life for all who work to feed us.
5. Commits resources to teach children the skills and knowledge essential to food production, preparation, nutrition and enjoyment.
6. Protects the finite resources of productive soils, fresh water and biological diversity.
7. Strives to remove fossil fuel from every link in the food chain and replace it with renewable resources and energy.
8. Originates from a biological rather than an industrial framework.
9. Fosters diversity in all its relevant forms: diversity of domestic and wild species; diversity of foods, flavours and traditions; diversity of ownership.
10. Requires a national dialogue concerning technologies used in production and allows regions to adopt their own respective guidelines on such matters.
11. Enforces transparency so that citizens know how their food is produced, where it comes from and what it contains.
12. Promotes economic structures and supports programs to nurture the development of just and sustainable regional farm and food networks.
Our pursuit of healthy food and agriculture unites us as people and as communities, across geographic boundaries and social and economic lines. We pledge our votes, our purchases, our creativity and our energies to this urgent cause.
Carolyn Herriot is author of A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide. She grows her certified organic “Seeds of Victoria” a