‘What does chocolate taste like?’
This question was asked by the son of a cocoa grower in Africa of a journalist tracking the sources of his food and ‘stuff’. (Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Fred Pearce)
When the time came for the abolition of slavery I wonder if people ever said: ‘It is unsustainable to get rid of slaves. If I don’t have slaves people won’t have cotton for their clothes.’
I wonder if that is the same thing as people saying these days: ‘It is unsustainable to get rid of intensive farming systems. If we get rid of these (horribly exploitative) farming methods there won’t be enough food to go around.’*
To say such things ignores what humans have proven their whole existence on this earth and that is that we are a very ingenious bunch. If there’s a problem we will find a way. It also shows the extent of our greed. For the sake of more: more profit, more production, more things we will do…anything!?
I see this battle of getting our farming practices right, learning to work with the environment, treating our animals and the worlds people** kindly, shifting our paradigms around from Capitalism to….who yet knows what…, as the great struggle of this age.
I can not believe that the people from whom our chocolate comes from have never themselves tasted chocolate. Locals along a certain coast in Africa are forced out of traditional fishing grounds, with nowhere else to go, by massive trawlers fishing for the far off European Union. Beans are exported from countries where people are starving. These things are not right and ought never to be.
I’ve had it argued to me that Environmentalism (to put that blanket definition over it) ignores people for the sake of animals & plants. I disagree entirely. Taking care of the worlds environment cuts right to the root of many people problems. Living in balance with the earths capacities to sustain us is essential to long-term human health & survival. I’ve also had people say: ‘I don’t believe in global warming.’ All I can say is that there are some cases where simply choosing to ignore something does not make it go away.
Would we drive our cars and refuse to put fuel in them, change the oil, check the fluid levels or take care of our brakes and simply shrug it off with a ‘I don’t believe in looking after my car.’ and ‘I don’t believe in car breakdowns.’ I think the same holds true with looking after our land, air & water. If we refuse to maintain it then it will break down. I think most people don’t tackle this problem because it is bigger than one person can handle, and that is true, but it takes individuals. It takes every individual making little decisions every day. The poor of this world do not have the benefit of having information available to them at the click of a button. We do. We have no excuses.
* By the by, there are actually extremely successful methods of increasing production 100 fold through ethical, natural, organic farming methods, one of which is Permaculture. Farmers are also finding higher percentages of Carbon in their soils (Carbon Sequestering) through better management of livestock grazing. (My dream is that every locality will be surrounded by permaculture farms providing for its food needs, rather than massive monoculture farms shipping all around the country and the world. Of course different diets will need to be adopted – e.g. no cheap mango & papaya for Southern Australians, but instead a rediscovery of temperate climate foods!)
**We are now a global world and therefore the people in South America who grow our coffee, the people in China who grow our beans, the people in Africa who grow our chocolate, the people in NSW who produce our eggs, are our responsibility. If we exploit them simply for our own benefit we will have to answer for it. Ignorance is no excuse. The information is readily accessible for anyone who cares enough to access it.