Food Security, Farmland and Your Heart
by Jody Aliesan, PCC Farmland Fund President and Operating Officer
This article was originally published in February 2001
Seventy-two labors brought us this food; we should know how it comes to us — From the Buddhist “Gokan No Be” or “Five Reflections Before Eating”
For most of us, food security is an abstraction. Although homeless and poor people know scarcity and immigrants may remember it, most of us haven’t experienced serious food shortages, hunger or famine. But as the march of development occupies nearby farmland and condemns fertile soil to pavement, we are more and more dependent upon food shipped from greater distances. Those of us who remember Puget Sound’s Kent Valley when it was a cornucopia can speak of the swiftness of loss.
People in other parts of the world ask: If you build on farmland, what will you eat? In this country we’re accustomed to thinking there will be another field somewhere. Or that liberty means the freedom not to plan, or care. Or, as a wealthy global power, we can always get our food from Mexico, or Chile, or New Zealand. Or synthesize it.
Although the new and revised National Organic Standards reflect the grassroots power of our movement for clean food, they don’t and can’t address the increasing industrialization of organic food production and distribution.
As more people concerned about their health turn to organically raised food, this “industry” is growing by 20 to 25 percent, year after year. Commercial producers and brokers are climbing on the marketwagon for economic gain only, without encumbrance of philosophy or spiritual values. Organic farms are becoming larger and more automated; natural foods companies are undergoing mergers and buyouts by multinational corporations; the consequences look all too familiar.
When Phillip Morris, Inc. bought Balance Bar, two of the latter’s staff responded by quitting and starting their own company, aLL GOODE Organics, in Santa Barbara, California. Simon Goode and Brian Powell made an early decision to pledge two percent of their sales to support organic causes. The Farmland Fund is their first beneficiary.
Part of heart is courage. St. Valentine was beheaded in the third century not for the sake of romantic love, but for giving aid to prisoners. We can observe Valentine’s Day by acting to free ourselves and others from imprisonment by corporate control and the long-distance petroleum-based transportation of our food.
By the 15th Century, the English associated Valentine’s Day with lovers because in folklore it was the day birds chose their mates. We can celebrate this day by saving places where migrating and resident waterfowl, eagles, hawks and falcons can build their nests and raise their young in peace — in their good health.
Our health and nourishment as individuals is influenced by concentric circles, starting from the outside and working in: the natural world, farmland, rural community, urban cooperation, local control, personal responsibility. Support local growers and producers. Eat seasonally. Know how your food comes to you.
Progressive businesses sponsor the Farmland Fund
Progressive businesses are becoming sponsors of the Farmland Fund. Choice Organic Teas and Padraig Cottage Industries provide important support to save farmland.
Choice Organic Teas
Choice Organic Teas has been offering teas and infusions with a solely organic presence since 1989. A brand of Granum, Inc., whose founder has been actively involved in the organic marketplace for thirty years, Choice Organic Teas is created and packed in their certified organic facility in Seattle. Dedicated to promoting and supporting farming methods that nourish the planet, the people behind Choice Organic Teas have an international perspective viewed through the strong and powerful lens of local activism. “By contributing to the PCC Farmland Fund, we are supporting local issues that help define the tenor of worldwide environmental practices,” says Blake Rankin, founder and CEO of Granum, Inc. “As a stakeholder in the Delta Farm, we have an opportunity to help protect a very special piece of Pacific Northwest organic farmland.”
As part of a commitment to act responsibly, Choice Organic Teas has now become the first brand of tea in the United States to offer certified Fair Trade tea. More than a catch-all phrase, Fair Trade translates into guaranteed fair wages for tea estate workers, and directly provides an additional means of improved livelihood for tea growing communities. As of December 2000, look for the Fair Trade label on many Choice Organic Teas and their “ready-to-brew” Chai. The “Fair Trade Certified” label, as issued by TransFair USA, is proof that your tea was traded responsibly. Created specifically for those who are looking for more in a tea, Choice Organic Teas speak to a passion for the earth as well as a compassion for the people who inhabit it.
Padraig Cottage Industries
Backed against the often heavily clouded North Shore Mountains in North Vancouver, Canada, is a cottage industry called Padraig. It’s owned and operated by Jeremy and Helen Long who have been in the business of producing unique items of wool, sheepskin and leather for the past 23 years. They started Padraig when their eldest son, Paddy, was two-and-a-half years old and Helen decided against returning to teaching, which would have meant daycare.
Given the enthusiasm for Helen’s designs, especially the Padraig Slippers, they decided in 1986 that Jeremy should stop his work as a heavy equipment mechanic to come into the business full-time. Padraig has grown slowly but steadily over the years, now providing work for some 20 artisans (mostly young mothers who wish to stay at home with their children), who crochet the very colorful yet wonderfully practical slippers of wool, sheepskin and leather.
Jeremy says, “PCC has carried these slippers fall and winter for the past five years, keeping many Seattle area feet happy and cozy. PCC has a history of supporting small ethical enterprises, and also looks for ways to be a pertinent caring member of society. It has initiated a very worthwhile project to rescue threatened farmland and to assist individuals who wish to farm this land organically.”
Jeremy and Helen, who have watched the shrinking of Fraser River Valley farms because of industry and sub-divisions, made a generous donation from the profit of their PCC sales. Their message from the north country is, “We encourage you to join us in supporting the Farmland Fund.”
For the Farmland Fund Homepage, complete with links and ways to donate, click here.
PCC Farmland Fund
4201 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
206-547-1222 x140 / Fax 206-545-7131
The PCC Farmland Fund is registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the Washington Secretary of State.
Ann and Earl Beede
Kathleen E. Crosman
Eric and Danna D’Asaro
Laura L. Davis
Lisa Friede and Rudi Bach
Kathryn Gardow and David Bradlee
Dara Hope Gates
Carolyn T. Leaver
Luella J. McLane
Marcia J. Melvin
Margaret Morgan and James Cross
Pamela J. Murphy
Lyn Brighid O’Doran
Mace and Stacy Roberts
Jerry L. Schwantes
Joslyn Slaughter and Marvin Johnson
Bill and Susie Thorness
Kathleen Tracy and Lisa Maynard
Sherine H. Tully
Sue Woehrlin and Pat Vivian
Acme Poultry Company
Adobe Systems Incorporated (matching)
aLL GOODE Organics
Blue Willow Tea Company
New Wave Enviro Products
Padraig Cottage Industries
Rainier Investment Management
The Christen Family
Richard Davison and Gail Coufal
Heather and Luke Duschl
Kelsey Lein Hayes
Nancy and Bob Kent
Jack and Heidi Miller and Family
Joe and Kari Miller and Family
Salvador T. Rager
Carol and Al Slaughter
For the Farmland Fund homepage, complete with links and ways to donate, click here.