Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ideas That Grow on You

I've read two books lately that, while not directly related to food, have been stunningly eye-opening in terms of environmental thought... which, if you've been reading carefully, is part of my motivation for touting the benefits of eating well and supporting farmers' markets.

The first book, the novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, provides an earth-shaking look at our current environmental crisis and shatters the unquestioned human assumptions that have led us to this point. Although as I read through it, I thought the author was making a hard case against agriculture in general, I was pleased to see an acknowledgement of that impression further in the book as well as the response that given the structure of our society now, some agriculture is to be expected and cultivated... though preferably on a smaller scale and done in such a way as to support biodiversity. (Local organic farms, anyone?)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of the implications of the book, some of which are deeply depressing and some of which are awe-inspiring. Will this motivate me to do something more? I hope so... I'm just not sure yet. And my discussion of the book with my Granola Girl was equally inspiring... would that she and I could start an organic farm or an organic cafe (like Benevolence) somewhere!

The second book, Finding God in the Singing River by Mark I. Wallace, brings the whole question of spirituality into deep ecology and environmental consciousness. I know I'm offering a very simple summary of his thought, but I think it boils down to this: In the Christian tradition of the Trinity (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), the Holy Spirit is God incarnate in the earth on a continual basis (as Jesus was God incarnate as mortal man)... and the wounds we inflict on the earth also wound the earthen God, so that God continues to suffer with us on a daily basis as the earth suffers.

Again, this doesn't seem to have a direct connection to food, but if we learn to approach food production and consumption through this viewpoint, it seems to me that we will find an even greater need to support smaller farms and local producers who use sustainable and organic methods and work with the earth and the natural cycle of life instead of fighting it with pesticides and unwise stewardship.

Like I said, there's a lot to consider in these two books, and I hope I've at least piqued your interest enough to have you read them yourself. (Check your local library!)

In the meantime, I'm going to do my part, however I can.

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