Food Chains



Edit Feb. 9/19: There are SOLUTIONS

Food is political.

It is. You know it is.

Food acquisition can be manipulated to penalize whole groups.

Why do you think some neighbourhoods are “food deserts”? No supermarkets mean that the people in those areas will have to travel long distances, expending time, energy and money they cannot afford, just to get food, or to stigmatize groups (think “Food Stamps” and how they are policed by the well-fed: Poor people mustn’t eat “junk food” but at the same time are criticized for buying anything healthy like, oh, I don’t know, actual meat, or fruit, or non-sugar-laden cereal…)

Food availability and affordability can be manipulated to keep a population obedient: governments who routinely claim that things like education and health care are “too expensive” to be funded by taxpayers will, if necessary, have no problem subsidizing farmers who might not vote for them if they go broke. (see: subsidies for farming in the USA. It’s stopped now, but for 70 years, the US government made sure that a lot of these farmers stayed in business, even to the point of paying them not to farm at all.)

The USSR made sure that no matter what, there were things like cheap bread and potatoes, because they knew that the civil unrest generated by starvation would topple their regimes. No matter how tight the budget might have been, that was a priority for them.

But currently, the politics of food are going to get very tricky.

Food prices worldwide are going to rise, because of what we are doing to the climate and to the ecological balance.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in this or not. It’s a fact. There won’t be a different price list for climate-change deniers. Your food prices will rise alongside mine. There are no exceptions and no mercy here.

Look at the floods, and the fires burning worldwide, and tell me that we’ll have the same amount of usable farmland next year. Think about what happens when millions of people (some of whom used to grow that food for you) are displaced.

We in North America have actually been here before, and not all that long ago.

We’ve ignored the reality, the science of that time. We’ve pretended it was just some isolated, causeless act of deity. We’ve mythologized both the cause and effect of our own myopia.

But the fact is that we collectively caused the Dustbowl of the 1930s by using short-term farming practices that created an ecological disaster across the Midwestern USA and Canada: what the farmers had done to the land made it impossible to cope when the weather decided to not be exactly like it had been for each preceding year in our farming memories.

And for USA citizens especially: right now, you are getting all hysterical about immigrants from “other countries” coming to your borders in search of simple survival.

Wait until it is you. Wait until it is your neighbor. Wait until it is US citizens who need to relocate from state to state, in droves, coming with virtually nothing, because their livelihood has been stripped from them by drought, by fire, by flood.

Because, if you were to ask, you’d find that half of the native Californians you might know have grandparents or great-grandparents who were stigmatized as “Okies”, and who were exploited and vilified, herded into “camps” and left to sink or swim without resources, simply because they sought refuge from disaster.

Farmers without farms, because the banks simply gave no fucks: they will not now, either.

People willing to work for food were starving to death along the roadsides of America. They may yet be doing so again.

Meanwhile…your food prices will rise. Worldwide, shortages are already making some things increasingly unaffordable. At some point, unless you are a billionaire, some things you think of as necessities will become luxuries you won’t be buying anymore.

Oranges. Avocados. Meat. Cheerios. Coffee.

And if you’ve been pretending that politics is boring, or that everything is A-OK because it hasn’t happened to you…wait till you look into your child’s eyes and know that you cannot feed them supper because there just isn’t any food at all.

I’m betting politics won’t seem so remote to your life anymore.


#GrapesofWrath #Dustbowl #DirtyThirties



Apocalypse Nigh



When I was about ten years old, my friends and I tumbled to the fact that time marches on, and that there was going to be a whole new century in our lifetimes.

We did the arithmetic, and realized we would be forty-five years old when that happened.

Forty-five! We’d be ancient.

I know. You’re all laughing at the naïve innocence. To a ten-year-old, the idea that we would ever be forty-five seemed outlandish, ridiculous, impossible – or at least, so far away that it did not need to be imagined on any level.

But here’s the thing: all those politicians ignoring or denying the facts of climate change are doing the same thing.

Recently, scientists tried to point out that 2040 is pretty much the year this species of ours will be irrevocably doomed. The effects will show up a lot sooner, of course, but 2040 seems to be the watershed year – the year we will see the final devastation of our lives.

That’s only 22 years away.

A lot of our elected representatives are in their forties and fifties, and given good medical treatment, they have every expectation of surviving into their late seventies.

Given that, you would think that those two-plus-a-bit decades would feel more imminent – that they would grasp that this is going to impact quite a few of them.

But like our ten-year-old selves, they don’t appear to have understood this.

They are operating as if those years were double, or even triple, in length.

They seem to have ignored the numbers and decided that they would be long dead (or succumbing to the last stages of dementia) by the time 2040 rolls around.

And an awful lot of voters seem to be doing the same thing.

Count it out. If you are fifty this year, you will only be seventy-two when this world becomes unable to sustain human life.

If you are forty, you won’t even be qualifying for your pension.

If you are thirty, you will almost certainly be watching your spouse and your children die of thirst or starvation.

People like to claim that the current education system is failing, and that kids today are not learning basic skills.

I think the evidence is clear: people under thirty get it. They can do the math. They can read the writing on the wall.

It’s us older folks who seem to have been sold some pretty shoddy goods in the education department.