Today, the local newspaper published an article about my reasons for traveling to India. They left out my political critiques of our current food system. I’m not sure why, because they knew that is an important motivation for going on this trip.
This trip is about a lot of things for me. Certainly this is a spiritual journey (much more on this later)… but it also came from a need live more simply, to learn some basic sustainable skills such as growing food. I also have an un-shakable feeling that I need to learn more and do more with food systems. Our current global food system is unsustainable and very fragile. One of the most insane things is the rampant use of toxic pesticides and genetically modified organisms; together, these things are destroying the fragile biodiversity of life on this planet, and these elements have also been linked to an increase in human disease.
India currently faces some unique challenges related to this global problem. The Indian government has recently become the first government to sue Monsanto (massive American argi-biotech company, makers of genetically modified seeds and pesticide Roundup, AKA the Dark Lord) for biopiracy. Over 250,000 Indian farmers have died by suicide as a result of crushing debt; the farmers were not able sustain payments for the patented bt/gm (bio-technology/genetically modified) seeds they must now purchase every year, their necessary pesticides, and massive amounts of water theses seeds require. If you want to learn more about the Indian farmer situation I highly suggest watching the documentary released this year called Bitter Seeds (at 1.5 hours and with English subtitles, to watch it is a commitment, but it’s very well-done, and tells of heart-wrenching human tragedy that needs to be heard). Obviously, situation has many layers…I am eager to be able to learn first-hand from the Indian people themselves. If you have 6 minutes, I think this video gives a good flavor for the problem in India. I also features my personal hero, Vandana Shiva, who is among other things, a physicist, feminist, environmental activist and author.
I am thrilled to have the honor to volunteer and learn at Navdanya, Vandana Shiva’s teaching farm and seed bank, starting this December.