The World is in an Agricultural Crisis

The world is in an agricultural crisis, says Vandana Shiva.

There are two distinct futures for our food and farming.

One leads to a dead end. A dead planet. Poisons and chemical monocultures spreading. Farmers committing suicide because of debt for seeds and chemicals. Children dying for lack of food. People dying from chronic diseases spreading due to nutritionally empty, toxic commodities sold as food. And climate havoc wiping out conditions for human life on Earth.

The second future leads to the rejuvenation of the planet through rejuvenation of biodiversity, soils and water, rejuvenation of small farms, and diverse, healthy, fresh, ecological food for all.

The first path is industrial, and was paved by the poison cartel, which was born during the second world war to create chemicals that can kill people. After the war, the war chemicals were redeployed as agrichemicals – pesticides and fertilisers. We were told, in effect, that we could not have food without poisons.

The process to make explosives by burning fossil fuels at high temperature to fix atmospheric nitrogen was later used to make chemical fertilisers. The slogan was that there would never again be scarcity of food, because we can now make “bread from air”.

There was the exaggerated claim that artificial fertilisers would increase food production and remove all the ecological limits that land puts on agriculture. Today the evidence is growing that, instead, artificial fertilisers have reduced soil fertility, reduced food production and contributed to desertification, water scarcity and climate change.

In the 1990s we were told we would starve without GMOs – genetically modified crops and other organisms – brought to us by the same poison cartel. There was an exaggerated claim that GMOs would remove all the limits imposed by the environment, and grow food in deserts and toxic dumps. Yet today we have only two GMO applications in widespread use – herbicide resistance and Bt toxins in crops. The first was claimed to control weeds. Instead, it has created superweeds. Bt crops were supposed to control pests. Instead, they have created new pests and superpests, while in India and elsewhere the introduction of Bt cotton has pushed thousands of farmers to suicide.

Now we are being told by agri-industry that in the not-too-distant future “big data” will feed us. Monsanto calls it “digital agriculture”, based on big data and artificial intelligence. It has started to talk about “farming without farmers”. This is why the farmers’ crisis and the suicide epidemic of Indian farmers have drawn no response from government, which is blindly paving the next phase on the dead-end highway.

When I was at the G20 meetings in Hamburg recently, it became extremely evident that pushing digitalisation in every sector of our modern life was going to be defined as the next step of progress. At a time when the world is waking up to the living intelligence of the planet and to the tiniest of life forms, there is an attempt to extend a failed mechanistic paradigm in the name of artificial intelligence and big data.

Monsanto’s partnership with Atomwise allows making a guess which molecules will give Monsanto the next possible pesticide. This is not the intelligence for sustainable management of pests, but rather a narrow bet on the next poison. It is turning life into a digital casino.

This is like playing poker on the deck of the Titanic while the ship is sinking.

In 2013 Monsanto acquired the world’s largest climate data corporation, The Climate Corporation, for US$1 billion. In 2014 it acquired the world’s largest soil data corporation, Solum.

The Climate Corporation does not bring farmers the knowledge that the solution to climate change lies below our feet, in the soil. Rather, it sells data. Solum does not work with farmers to understand the rich soil food web – the bacteria, the fungi, the earthworms. Instead, it too sells data.

But data is not knowledge. It is just another commodity to make the farmer more dependent. Effectively, farmers are being told they must outsource their minds to Monsanto.

This is the next step in a dead-end future that ignores the intelligence of seeds, plants, soil organisms, our gut bacteria, our farmers, our grandmothers.

Yet, as I indicated at the beginning of this article, rather than following this blind alley, we can sow the seeds of another future.

All over the world, small farmers and gardeners are already implementing this agriculture, preserving and developing their soils and their seeds, practising agroecology. They are feeding their communities with healthy and nutritious food while rejuvenating the planet. They are thus sowing the seeds of food democracy – a food system in the hands of farmers and consumers, devoid of corporate control, poisons, food miles and plastics. A food system that nourishes the planet and all humans.

Contrary to the assertion that small farmers should be wiped out because they are unproductive, and that we should leave our food future in the hands of the poison cartel, surveillance drones and spyware, small farmers are providing 70% of global food using 30% of the resources that go into agriculture. Industrial agriculture is using 70% of the resources to create 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions while providing only 30% of our food. This commodity-based agriculture has caused 75% of the destruction of soils, 75% of the destruction of water resources, and pollution of our lakes, rivers and oceans, and has pushed 93% of crop diversity to extinction. It is also creating a health crisis by producing nutritionally empty toxic commodities. A billion people are permanently hungry in this system, while more than 2 billion suffer from food-related diseases. Organic farming takes excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where it doesn’t belong, and through photosynthesis puts it back into the soil, where it does belong. It also increases the water-holding capacity of the soil, contributing to resilience in times of drought, flood and other climate extremes.

We cannot address climate change and its very real consequences without recognising the central role of the industrial and globalised food system, which contributes more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation, animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), plastics and aluminium packaging, long-distance transport, and food waste. We cannot solve climate change without small-scale, ecological agriculture, based on biodiversity, living seeds and living soils, and local food systems, with minimal food miles and no plastic packaging.

What we eat, how we grow the food we eat, and how we distribute it will determine whether humanity survives or pushes itself and other species to extinction.

Vandana Shiva is Director of Navdanya.

Web Exclusives, Nov/Dec issue Resurgence magazine




The Right Pad in Looking at Food


photo S. Mulyadi Kalimantan Indonesia

The “Dharma” of Food

The title of this reflection might puzzle you as much as it puzzled me. I found this thought-provoking article in Resurgence &Ecologist magazine(  Issue 294. (2016, Jan./Febr.) Vandana Shiva reflects about the deep meaning of food, as she has done so long already in her work as activist for preserving seeds in India.

Guided by her inspiring thoughts and fierce words, I will reflect with you on the sacredness of food.

First of all let us try to understand the meanning of the word “dharma”. That is not so easy, because the concept dharma is an unique Indian concept. The author considers this concept a gift of Indian Civilisation to humanity of today. Dharma is like a compass, a lamp on the path of humanity searching for right action and right livelihood.

In reading more of Vandana Shiva over the years, she has thought me so much about the sacredness of food and the mirror food is of the whole web of life.  There is no word with the same meaning as dharma in Western languages. Dharma is also not limited to religion but is part of the different aspects that make a culture. It is clear that all religions from India know the concept of dharma.  Mainly it means “the right path”. Looking at the etymological root of dharma it refers to    ” that which sustains”: the universe and all creation, from macro-cosmos to micro- cosmos, from the finest microbe to the largest mammals. Dharma refers to the interconnectedness of all life. The opposite of dharma is adharma, that action, that way of life that violates the ecological laws and balance of the planet and our care for each being, irrespective of gender, race, caste, age or class.

So dharma helps us to choose between right or wrong, gives use right values and insights to take action for a harmonious and sustainable world.

A choice is a dharmic choice if it contributes to holding together and is adharmic if it leads to ecological destruction. Or to say it in the line of writings of Thomas Berry: a choice for action is good if it fits in the circle of life.

Vandana Shiva mentions very old resources in Indian literature on the sacred meaning of food and realizes that the depth of insights is very congruent with modern findings from the science of agro-ecology and the best thinking on the principles of food justice and food ethics.

Food itself is Brahma, the Creator.

Do not look down upon food.

Do not neglect food.

Ensure an abundance of food all around.

In dharma food is creation, the cycle of life is a food cycle, good food is medicine, and the growing and sharing of good food, in abundance, is the highest duty.

Those words can lead us into deep reflections and through that to great insights. What is good and right in fulfilling our duty in providing and sharing good food in abundance. Every piece of food we eat comes after a choice we made consciously or not for this food to eat. E.g. do we allow toxic food to enter our sacred bodies?

From what circle of production does this food come? Is it grown with much love and care by generally speaking poor farmers in East or West, or does is come from great agroindustrial farms? Have you ever tasted the difference? Have you ever thought about the effect and consequences of your choice for the poor farmers? How this pushes them into debts, stess and even suicide? Acoording to Vandana Shiva 300.000 farmers in India have committed suicide in the past years. So the food on our tables, the crops on our lands are the domain of ethical, political choices!

But do we have a say in what we choose to eat? Do we know what choices there are if we walk in the (super) market and fill our shopping carts?  How have we really been able to make a choice between healthy or unhealthy foods or have others done that for us, long time ago, far away of close by?

Vandana Shiva is very strong and clear when she says: ” The human capacity to choose between healthy food and unhealthy food is being taken away. Instead of ensuring that food is the source of health and wellbeing, all consideration of growing healthy, safe, nourishing and healing food is being banished by a technological fundamentalism that promotes GMOs. Instead of seeing food as the creator, corporations and scientists developing GMOs are taking over the role of creator through patents on life itself. Instead of assessing how the use of toxic chemicals and GMOs is affecting the web of life – the bees and the butterflies, the earthworms and soil organisms, the biodiversity of our plants- assesments built into biosafety laws are being blocked through deregulation under the influence of industry in country after country”.

The principle of abundance is violated. Now abundance becomes scarcity.The old ways of seeds saving and sharing seeds will disappear and have disappeared already where seeds are made non- renewable. Where all kinds of rules and genetic manipulating make seeds scarce. Farmers are no longer free to produce the seeds they want and seeds are intentionally destroyed so that farmers depent on the market and have to buy need new seeds every year. That causes great debts for the farmers. There is also scarcity in the field when diversity-rich farming systems are now replaced by monocultures. There is scarcity because good foods turn into poison by toxic chemicals.

It is clear that choices for good food production and handling have to be made. It is the choice between happy farming and growing healthy foods and the greed of earning as much money as possible, control of harvests and the market.

How will we understand in a new way that it is our duty to help Mother Earth to be truly nourishing as she has been for billions of years? How can we grow in our respect for food and understand the sacredness of food?

May we understand the changes and conversion needed in our personal consumptions and in ways to act on behalve of farmers, soil, and the food for future generations.

And to conclude this powerful sentence of Vandana Shiva: dharma protects those who protect dharma.

See also

Vandana Shiva is an Indian scientist, philospher, feminist, author, environmentalist and activist Vandana Shiva is a one-woman movement for peace, sustainability,and social justice. in 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds.


Alchemy of Food…

Alchemy of Food

This article is taken from a daily magazine Earth Matters.
The article is written by Liz Blake. More information about the author you find at the end of this article.
May you enjoy learning about the wisdom of Earth as she nourishes us.

At the heart of Alchemy is the dynamic relationship between psyche and matter. We access our transformational potential, both for the individual and the collective, by cultivating an alchemical relationship with our food.  By eating intentionally, we generate the abilities to co-create ourselves and our world.

1. Eating is an ACT OF CREATION.
You are, quite literally, what you eat.  Eating the fruits of the earth is a beautiful becoming, an elevation of matter, as they integrate into your conscious being.  The fruit is conscious itself.  Molecules of the earth’s creation are re-organized and integrated into your physical and subtle energetic bodies, directing and framing your conscious experience.  Becoming aware of this molecular consciousness allows you to actively co-create with the molecules you are made of.  They are gifts of the earth.  Create yourself with love.

2. Discovering our Earthly Selves
Once you fully acknowledge that you are what you eat, you discover your body is made of the earth; your physical being is a reorganization of earth molecules directed by your DNA.  Understand that your material existence is rooted in your food.  Every bite presents the opportunity to make a conscious choice.  You choose the materials for your own creation.  I suggest choosing high quality, highly intelligent, highly evolved materials, they will serve you.  They will fuel your individual evolution.  They will awaken your transformation, your becoming of the best possible self that you have the potential to be, that is the work, the opus.  This is alchemy.  Eating is alchemy.

3. Welcoming the Earth as Teacher
Once you understand the earthly wisdom flowing through your body, you are able to receive her teachings, her intelligence, her healing embrace.  The Earth is here to teach humanity.  Your body is a vehicle to receive her teachings, her transmissions of intelligence.  The teachings flow through your veins, encoded in the nutrients in your blood, they are inherent in your being.  Awaken your awareness to feel her.  Listen to her whisper.

4. Attuning to the Subtle
Awaken your awareness to the subtle.  Learn to listen beneath the sounds, attune to the vibrations, the intelligence in your being.  Assimilate the subtle, allow it to easily pass through your digestive system, into your blood, and illuminate your cells with information.  Hear your whole being’s response; there is infinite information in the dialogue of the subtle.   Different foods have different energetic qualities, knowing this difference empowers you to know your medicine.  You are your own medicine.

5. Micro is Macro Cosm
Your evolution is your opus.  The great work, the opus, your personal transformational journey, is yours to do as a service to all of humanity.  As we heal ourselves, we respect ourselves and create the space to respect others, to respect our mother, this beautiful planet that hosts our being.  A micro universe exists inside of you; it is a cell of the macro universe.  We are to take responsibility of the cells that we are made of and influence, the cells that we co-create.  As we awaken our individual cells, we support the awakening of all humankind.  Our every action of taking care, of consciously loving ourselves, inspires those around us.  This is the viral energetic upshift and it is beautiful.   We are all designers of the future, creating our world with our thoughts.  Nourish your thoughts with the consciousness of the earth to support a thriving future.  Awaken on a cellular level.  Bring in the light.  Be solar powered.  Eat plants!  They eat the sun.

6. Taste the Sacredness of the Earth
Our mother planet is endowed with an intelligence we have yet to comprehend as a species.  She knows our past and our evolution.  She has co-evolved us, she is our co-evolutionary partner, and she is the master manifestor in the created universe.  Allow yourself to deepen into this knowledge.  When you take a bite of food, honor this highly intelligent biological ecological system, allow the information to flow through your being. Olfactory communication is a core element in the language of the earth.  Learn to smell the truth in the air, the flowers, and your food.  Attune your senses to taste the sacredness of the earth.

7. Honor the Container
The container is the physical, the matter, the mother, the earth, the feminine, the receiver.  The holder of the magic.  Honor this space.  The physical body is the container for our evolution of consciousness.  You must have energetic integrity in the physical to be able to receive and assimilate the frequencies of higher consciousness that are coming to earth.  This is key to the evolution, to the upshift, to the way forward.  This is honoring and listening to your mother.  She is here to heal, she is here to teach, she is here to help us grow.  She wants to create with you.  Love her, she knows best.

8. Fasting in Silence
It is simple; to know how to eat properly once must cease eating.  To know how to speak properly, one must stop speaking.  By fasting, mono dieting and juice cleansing, you eliminate the energetic chaos, the noise, the clutter, the many paths and directions that pull you.  You then create the space to settle into simply what is, this is medicine.  Food has a powerful pull; eating many different kinds from many different sources can scatter your energy field.  When you give your system a rest from overload of information, it reprograms itself to awareness.  Suddenly you become aware of things you never noticed before, the depths of the scent in a carrot, the sensation miso has in your stomach, the digestion and assimilation of your beloved chocolate, the nutrients of kale in your blood, the feeling of clean water nourishing the energetic strength of your chakras.  Attuning to the subtle provides unlimited information on your Self, your inner being, your body and your soul.  Your soul knows how your body wants to be fed, so does your body, your work is to access its intelligence and support the body’s communication with your conscious mind.

9. The Secret Ingredients: Love And Intention
All matter holds intention.  Working with this universal truth is alchemy.  Transformation in matter is a container, a support structure and a symbol for transformation in the psyche or spirit. Understanding how these energetic transformations occur give you the power to create, create yourself, create our future.  When you grow, harvest, cook and eat with love, you nourish on an energetic level.  This realm is more subtle than the densely physical, this is the psyche, this is spirit, this is a powerful place to access, this is the source of creation.  And yes, you can access it through the way of your food.  Allow your food to support the intentions you have in life.  Ask your food to nourish your true self, your higher self, the all knowing you.

10. Mastering the Art of Being
Whether you’ve embraced it yet or not, you are a creator, you have the power to create, all of humanity is evolving to embrace this power.   Love it, be it, and emanate it, responsibly.  Mastering the cellular response of your inner being to the outside world, to the wonders of the earth, is the initial step.  Your body wants to support your evolution, but you must support your body.  Your body moves towards balance, and you must nourish its moving towards center.  Once you master the creation of yourself, mind and body, in matter and in spirit, you are an alchemist, you are a master in the art of transformation, which is the way of creation.  You are embracing the Great Work, you are the artist creating your life, you become the opus.   You are creator.

11. As Below, So Above…As Above, So Below
“That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.  And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of the One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing, through Transformation.”  – The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck

About the Author
Liz Blake is a designer of conscious culture and evolved lifestyle, inspiring a co-creative healthy future.
She is a graduate of NYU, with a self-designed BA in Holistic Health and Alchemy, focusing in Jungian psychology, nutrition, energy healing and shamanism.  She is a practicing Reiki Master.  She also earned a certificate as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a Yoga Teaching certificate, 200 hr RYT.
As a conscious chef, she nourishes our evolution through alchemically integrating healing energy into the kitchen and creating food with love.
She is committed to nurturing community and healthy relationships to the earth and is an active member and healing center visionary of The Source Farm Ecovillage in Jamaica.  She is also a friend of Growing Heart Farm in upstate NY.
Guided by sacred plant medicine, she traveled to Peru, Brazil and England to pursue her shamanic studies.
Liz is currently based in New York City and is offering services in nutritional and transformational coaching, focusing on personal transformation through working with the subtle energetics of food and balancing the inner ecosystem.  She also offers Reiki and subtle energetic healing work.

Meditation: To Eat with Gratitude

A meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk and peace activist. You can find it in  his book :” Touching the Earth” .

“Lord Buddha, each time I sit at the table, I promise to be grateful. I know that the time to eat is also a time to meditate. When I eat I not only my body is nourished, but also my mind. When I fold my hands before the meal, I follow my breath to bring my body and mind to oneness. And in this state of pure awareness I will look at the food on my plate and I will meditate on the next five points:

  1. This food is a gift of the whole Universe – the soil, the air, and hard work.
  2. May we take our food in consciousness so that we are worthy to receive this food.
  3. May we transform our imperfect state of awareness and learn to eat with moderation.
  4. May we only take that food that really nourishes us and prevents illness.
  5. We accept this food to realize the path of insight and love.

…I see that this food is a gift of the soil and the air. I see the rice field, the vegetable garden, the sunshine, the rain, the manure and the hard work of the farmer. I see the beautiful fields of golden wheat, those harvesting , those threshing the wheat, the ones baking the bread. I see the beans sown in the soil growing up. I see the apple orchard, the plum orchard, the tomato garden and the workers taking care of those plants. I see the bees and butterflies flying from flower to flower and gathering pollen and preparing sweet honey. I see that every element of the cosmos has participated in this….My heart is full of gratitude and happiness. When I chew my food, I nourish my consciousness and my happiness and I take care that my mind is not occupied by the past or by the future or by senseless thoughts of the present. Every bite nourishes me and my ancestors and my descendants, who live in me. Food for my senses can give me compassion and joy while eating. When I eat with full awareness, I bring forth compassion, freedom and joy. In this way I feed my family and my sangha (  community).

I will take care that I will not eat more than I need, because it is harmful for myself and for my discipline.

Lord Buddha, three times I touch the Earth on behalf of you, who are worthy of all respect and sacrifice. In this way I express my gratitude for the soil, the air and all kind of living beings and feed my happiness.

I nourish myself with true food and the food that feeds my senses. True food gives nourishment for my body.

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