Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sustainability Letters- A Must Read

A Powerful Reply, and the Letter which inspired it

Hi K.,

Good to hear from you, and please do not apologize.

The key to all this, and every other overwhelming, big issue, is that most people feel powerless to do anything about their situation. Most people wring their hands and say, "Oh, food is so expensive, but there's nothing I do about it?" Or, "I know I'm overweight, but that's just the way I am," or "Everything will be alright; we'll never run of food; 'they' won't let it happen."

In Gandhi's autobiography, he talks at length about how the common person in India, during the time of Britain's rule, felt powerless against laws requiring citizens to buy cotton from Britain, salt and many other commodities. Gandhi, in his now famous salt march, brought the people together around a simple idea, that they could do something about their situation. And independence from Britain was started.

Food--its availability, how it gets from the farm to the table, how its grown and magically shows up in the store shelves, is beyond most people's radar or caring.

People need to start by understanding the power gained by growing their own food -- even a part of it. So much understanding springs from that--an appreciation for the farmer, personal health issues, the weather, a simple seed, lessons for kids and so on.

Unfortunately, most people are so busy, and on auto-pilot just trying to survive (and chase after things that don't bring happiness) that they won't do anything until a crisis befalls them or prices get so high they'll have to stop, look and listen.

So, to summarize, it must start with the individual, from within. We need to put our heads (of lettuce!) to work!

Here in Kodiak, we have a very active, Sustainable Kodiak group and Local Food Group. We see the issue more profoundly perhaps because we live on an island. Please visit our blog at http:// sustainablekodiak.blogspot.com/

I'm happy to engage in this more. I write about this, both in my columns and in my [free, 3-minute, weekly] radio show, the UpBeet Gardener (http://www.upbeetcommunications.com).

Cheers, Marion

On Apr 7, 2008, KC wrote:


For a totally unrelated reason, I ran across your blog entry from October 5, 2005 "Proposing a Sustainable Food Policy for Alaska." Holy smokes, I've been concerned with this ever since January 2007 when I moved back to Alaska after a five year hiatus to Wisconsin. I live in Anchorage and had the opportunity to attend the Bioneers conference last October and talk about food security with other folks from around the state.

As I see it, it's going to get worse before it gets better and we're a long way from being able to feed ourselves with our own food up here. I'm taking a wonderful organic gardening class out at Matsu College (plus I did a little gardening in Wisconsin as well as do some minor work on a couple of CSA farms) so I'm doing what I can to help myself and my immediate something-like-an-extended- family. But that's not necessarily helping the rest of us.

I'm hoping the raw milk bill gets passed because that will at least allow the few dairy farms in the state to sell their product directly. I've been urging my elected officials to approve it and encouraging everyone I know to do the same. But more is needed. We simply need more agricultural entities and less restrictions on the agriculture we already have. Local farmers are restricted to CSAs, on-farm markets and farmer's markets to sell their products. They don't have the time to form cooperatives that could help market and distribute their products either. Certainly state and federal government restrictions on selling to schools, hospitals, prisons and other governmental agencies has kept agriculture from growing beyond the family farm. Everyone who lives up here knows how expensive it is to get things; why aren't we directing our energies to doing it locally?

Kim Sollinen has been agitating and facilitating a lot in the Matsu Valley but not much seems to be happening out there yet. What are you seeing? Are there any other grassroots initiatives taking place that I'm just not aware of? I think what Finland has been doing is excellent; have you had contact with anyone involved in their agricultural activities? I'd like to learn more about their efforts particularly since the price of fuel has skyrocketed.

I apologize for the rant but food security is a huge issue for me. Anything you can suggest or let me know about I'd greatly appreciate.


K. in Anchorage

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