Conscious Eating, Conscious Farming

We’re building a new website and I get to be in charge of some of the copy that will be going on it. The section called “Why Organic” is taking me a while to write. One realization I had while I was doing the research for that section is that, as we know, in the history of our species and our relationship to agriculture, we’ve always farmed “organically” because there was never a choice. Indigenous people learned to grow food with nature—following what they saw happening around them; allowing nature to be their teacher. Until fossil fuels, chemical warfare, and industrialization, we’ve always done it that way. Now that we’ve established an industrialized, chemicalized “food” system (I put food in quotes because so much of what we eat I would not consider food) we have a choice about how we want to relate to food, agriculture, our earth. Having a choice means we have to look at what the options really are and be CONSCIOUS of the consequences of what we choose. We’re in a different paradigm than our ancestors—we are doing things very differently than what’s been done before. It means we have to question things in ways our species hasn’t had to. We can’t just trust our elders, or what’s been done before—it’s not that people are purposely trying to mislead us (although in some cases, when it comes to quick profit, I think we are being lied to;) it’s that people don’t know what they know and don’t know anymore. There’s now a generation of people who only know about food from this new, industrialized paradigm. They don’t know what they don’t know.

I have learned not to idealize any culture or time period, but it seems that indigenous cultures do have a connection to nature and the earth and an understanding of our place in it. There is an acceptance of mystery, vulnerability, and limitation. Humility. As we have relied more and more on our heads and our intellect, and revered that aspect of our knowledge base, we have lost the connection to our hearts which is the part of us that knows about what it means to be human. Our hearts teach us of vulnerability, compassion, and connection. It’s what keeps us in our bodies, reminding us that we are just one of many species on this planet, and not necessarily the smartest ones. Supposedly, we are distinguished by the fact that we have an awareness of self, can make choices, have “free will.” That freedom comes with a lot of responsibility, as freedom generally does. It would be very mature and wise of us to recognize the limits of the head and build in some balance with the heart. The “precautionary principle” seems to include that balance somewhat (“When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Google for more details.) It’s at least acknowledging that we may not know the full outcome of something even when we think that we do. We are just beginning to learn about the full outcome of some of the choices we have made regarding “conventional” farming. We have displayed much arrogance as we mess with nature, change the DNA of plants (GMOs), try to control a complex system by killing what we have determined to be “pests” without understanding (or caring?) about the consequences. Ugh.

So you can see where my mind goes when I think about writing about why Mary’s Gone Crackers passionately chooses to use certified organic ingredients. It was a “no brainer” for me that we would only use organic ingredients; maybe I should say it was both a brain and heart choice.

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