The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Put your stomach where your mouth is

Professor Sandy Moffett encapsulated in a few words a sentiment that could actually be said about every major issue today, but is perhaps the most true about the future of the Midwest and world agriculture.

“The common perception is that our problems are too big to solve,” she said.

The entire U.S. agriculture system seems to be stacked so that intractable, insatiable behemoths dominate how our nation produces food and any change to our system can only fundamentally risk our standard of living.

Is this what people are thinking when they converge on the student garden? Is this the notion behind the local Thanksgiving?

How can it be that a campus that professes to live by the tenants of social justice demand bananas in December while damning the American agriculture system as being corrupt and unsustainable?

Are we dealing with an unstoppable juggernaut of a food system or elitist hypocrisy? The registrar website reported today that the Intro to Environmental Studies class is overenrolled by 60 people. There are 90 people who are willing to put one semester of their college career into learning about food systems, 90 people who are clamoring to learn about food systems and their consequences. Yet where are these people when solutions are needed?

Why do we need strawberries in December? Why are we up in arms when we don’t get the type of rice we like? How can we live with ourselves when we shout that Grinnell College does little to further sustainable foods yet down the fresh tomatoes grown by means of for all intents and purposes, environmental terrorism (read the book Tomatoland)?

The systems destroying our world have won if we are left clamoring for cheap plastic shoes on the Internet but are almost violently opposed to paying those few extra cents per pound for locally raised or organic produce.

We can live sustainably. Save our land. Restore our environment but not if we’re going to pretend that by not eating meat you’re any better than those carnivores. You sip that soy and you are responsible for cutting down the Amazon rainforest. You eat that tilapia that destroys miles of coastal fish communities but sign up for PETA’s sexiest vegetarian award as if you’re not destroying the earth too.

By thinking about what you eat, you can save the Midwest. You can prevent the food crisis. You can get rid of the hog smell. But only if you are willing to close your Facebook, put down the banana and pick up a shovel.

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