I found myself asking this question to a friend as we figured out what funding we could apply for in support of our joint projects. I felt the evidence we were trying to show was in of itself, just masking a deeper deprivation that affects us all. Below are these thoughts expanded.
The current definition of ‘food poverty’ is the inability to obtain healthy, affordable food.
Although accurate, this viewpoint or scope is of the eyes of convention where current terminologies (albeit ‘Googled’) still define health as being ‘in a good physical or mental condition’ and wealth as ‘having an abundance of valuable material possessions or resources’. Both descriptions reflect the limitation of thought in relation to the complexity and interdependence of our human nature and of its extension – that of nature itself.
These outdated descriptions do not address the more subtle nature of our experiences, or spiritual identity, never mind completely ignoring any social ‘value’ and other potent ‘abundances’ that are not defined by the physical. Such limited language seems to solidify and reinforce these outdated concepts and are simply not fitting in our consciously evolving society – a society where qualitative experiences are often what we strive for – we cannot measure joy or love and nor should we try!
Then of course going anyway by this accepted definition of wealth, there is the abhorrent assumption that natural resources are there for the exploitative taking – which by measure of accumulation and possession of, is deemed good and true, the ‘wealthy’ goal – can you see this madness!?
So where am I going with this…?
By accepting these terminologies as they are ‘spelled’ out we encapsulate the old, we affirm unfitting parameters and we struggle to see beyond the veil of their thought-forms. Or can we say, by imagining the future through past measures there is no wonder it is difficult to see a better way, a beautiful and abundant way – the foundations of which must not be built on the machinations of old ideals.
Back to the point in hand…
Are most people then, no matter what background or level of accumulated wealth, not suffering from a deeper, often unnoticed food poverty just by way of what has become ‘normal’? That is, thoughtlessly taking part in an elaborate system that promotes pollution, degradation of the environment and ill health; practices that provide ‘a living’ for some so to meet the most basic needs of others.
A few profound issues directly related to our food system, if you are not already aware include; global pesticide and herbicide use (the same poisons that were used in chemical warfare) that are water soluble on a blue planet (we are ~70% water also), depleted and over tilled soils, mass mono-cropping, 60% of the world’s seeds being ‘owned’ by four giant companies, and the current experience of all-time high chronic illnesses and an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. Today, we are not only witnessing but actively taking part in the largest extinction event that the planet has ever been subject to, by way of what is deemed to be and accepted as just how things are.
I feel certain, whether direct or indirect that such ‘normal’, degrading and exploitative practices involved with our global food systems – which has resulted in the loss of one third of the world’s top soil in just the last 40 years alone – reflects why things have become so bad. This seems to be almost too massive to comprehend or scary to accept and so, we continue to stick our head in the sands of desertification!
Going by convention and out with this deeper truth, I am in no way undermining the severity and shocking reality experienced by those suffering food poverty (as it is understood), in fact, I believe that it is because of our current ways and acceptance of the ‘normal’, impersonal food system that the widening poverty gap is exacerbated. It is somehow cheaper for us to buy processed, foreign food over organic produce grown by regenerative processes within our locality.
It is worth pondering for a moment the former example; processed food in itself of course implies several tamperings and energy expenditures, often shipped or flown in from a country we potentially know nothing about, where common workers are often underpaid and taken advantage of, usually working on degraded land that has been sprayed with pesticides and ‘shot up’ with a concoction of fertiliser (often times stripped and shipped in again from another country) for the next harvest…
Like a drug addict needing a pick-me-up, leading to dependency whilst causing further damage. Sadly, this convention is so ingrained that even if communities do have access to locally grown, fresh food, many simply do not know what to do with the produce or are put off by its unfamiliarity…
… that is, until you get folk growing food themselves!
On a much more positive note however, what is most profound and simply astonishing is that Nature’s beauty, patience, and resilience is much greater than our current ignorance and stupidity, and therein lies the hope and inspiration for the abundant, healthy future we must learn to co-create.
Experience has shown me how supporting communities to grow their own food, empowers people in a beautifully fundamental way, often leading to more positive, long-lasting behaviours and outlook even. On a personal note, it has definitely been the case for me.
Such hands-on activities provide the opportunity for people to directly experience the multiple social, economic and environmental benefits of home grown produce, where the realisation of their own impact and positive contribution to wider efforts to reduce the global food problems is addressed – starting local, affecting global.
It seems that when we do not see, understand process, and especially when we are not directly involved in fundamental practices from farm to fork, from plot to plate, we lose our sense of appreciation, sense of achievement, sense of connection and community. We lose essential skills and knowledge that cannot be learned from a book, we lose local responsibility and hand it over to successive processes and indirect people (often on the other side of the globe) to ‘take care’ of it.
We must NOT go back to normal!
For clarity, it is because ‘normal’ guards within it, our:
- disconnection from the land right under our feet and ourselves as part of it
- lack of understanding of seasonal rhythms and abundances
- knowledge of how to feed ourselves and our families out with exploitative commerce
- greatly limited or conditioned access to land, water, and shelter
… all of which my friends, are our basic human needs and birth right!
It is that we have become so lost in deception, perpetuating these damaging processes, ingrained in our psyche, that we do not even recognise them as an issue in the first place. We accept conditions that challenge and outright disregard our basic human needs and rights.
Surely, we must stop encouraging such ignorance and competition, instead creating cooperation and mutually beneficial partnerships. Nature has been showing us this all along. Is it not time that we really understand what it is to take care of ourselves, each other, and of the Earth that embodies us all?
Surely that is everyone’s responsibility and if we all did this, I simply cannot fathom the beauty that would ensue – the local and global regeneration, abundance, and cooperation – a new race of humanity would blossom!
Act, act, act! Connect now with the land right on your doorstep; sows seeds, plant flowers, leave wild areas for nature to thrive, take notice of the plants and trees in your neighbourhood, understand how life changes through the seasons, walk in nature, help at your local community garden or allotment, start your own kitchen garden or community garden, compost, reuse and up-cycle, volunteer to help your community in an area that you are passionate about, support and replicate regenerative agriculture, make your own products, support local products and produce… see the best in people and become a better version of yourself.
Locally empowered communities = a globally secure humanity
It is highly evidential that we must restore natural order as a united, empowered humanity to become globally secure. I believe locally empowered communities are the global stronghold. Taking responsibility for our most basic needs and our immediate environment, setting up common sense infrastructure that sustains and regenerates people and planet, building sustainably, replicating nature to build-in dynamic resilience, as you see… the natural world IS our greatest teacher, our ultimate security.
I invite you to open your eyes and hearts, and instead of becoming overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of our task, start to change small things, today in your own life. We need to be honest with ourselves and see things as they are, to feel, accept and transform the pain and horror.
I invite you to use your fiery indignance to help lead the way towards a better outlook, beyond current terminologies as the withered, rotten roots of old have failed us. The power is in our hands!
Let us not be distracted by convention and normality as it is tainted by unfitting measures that do not serve us or convey our truth – the truth of our better nature, where real freedom and wealth can be found.