My daughter is 30 now, but I have a vivid memory of a time when she was a teenager and was sitting around in the living room with her friends, talking and sharing about life and what they were learning about the environment. I was called in by the girls and was asked point blank, “Why are you leaving the earth such a mess for us to clean up?” I became unusually dumbfounded and unable to respond.
Since the early seventies, after reading Frances Lappe’s Diet For a Small Planet, I have been an organic food and farm activist. I have proudly worked for the organic farmers of CROPP Cooperative since 1995. I flinched watching the New MacDonald video recently released by Only Organic, and I was immediately concerned that our farmers, many of whom were once conventional farmers, would find it offensive, pitting organic against conventional.
Following social media, comments were often favorable, but many called the video “disparaging,” “insulting,” “inflammatory,” “hateful,” and “untrue.”
Since we at CROPP helped fund this video, I took a moment to pause and reflect.
While I can agree with “inflammatory,” I do not agree with “hateful.” Upon reflection, what is truly hateful to me is that every watershed in the Midwest is poisoned with pesticides.
What is hateful to me is that we now have children’s cancer and, as the World Health Organization pointed out, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) “probably” causes cancer (though, to many, it’s always been clear).
What is hateful to me is when the USDA and food corporations keep telling us their risk assessment for poisons used on food is safe when these poisons are building up in our bodies and fetuses in utero are swimming in amniotic fluid contaminated by pesticides.
What is hateful to me is reproduction problems growing, oceans dying and bees dying all because of poisons used on corn seed.
The earth, my dear children, is in much, much worse shape than it was when you asked me that question fifteen years ago.
And most disturbing of all is that as I write this, legislation protecting the worst actors in food — the biotech and pesticide industry — is moving its way through congress. HR4432, known as the Pompeo bill and referred to by food activists as the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, will outlaw GMO labeling and set up a non-GMO label that has GMOs in it. This is from the same group calling the New MacDonald video “untrue.” This bill is as ugly as Citizens United, which gave corporations the same rights as individuals.
And so, my reflections leave me in a paradoxical frame of mind.
I love farmers and have worked for them for 20 years. And while we have made great progress in organic agriculture, industrial ag keeps getting worse. CAFOs, pesticide buildup, soil erosion, water contamination. These are truly offensive. The New MacDonald looks timid and innocent in comparison.
I say, food and farm activists, let’s turn it up! It’s for our kids.