A Food Revolution!

A Food Revolution!

By Hwaa Irfan

How many of us managed to escape the daily grind this summer? Not as many as it used to be one would think, given the insecurities presented by the global economic climate. What is it one escapes to? Is it just to be able to unwind and relax, and/or to smell the sea breeze, and/or to take in the beautiful scenery, and/or to do something active away from that sedentary job? 

Now, when one is obliged to do the shopping, do you find you have to be more careful because of the many food technologies today that present produce as if it is natural, and/or because the prices are getting extremely ridiculous?

What is the connection!

I watched one bearded city man on Ramadhan T.V., simply answer correctly a question from the Qur’an, and disbelief dawned on his face when he found that for that answer he had won a prize – that prize was money, and not a small amount either. When asked what he was going to do with it, as he spoke, one could see the burden that he was carrying disappear. He knew what he wanted there and then – without hesitation, he wanted to buy land – not land to profit from, but land to sustain them. He also said that the land would be put in his wife’s name she was standing beside him, carrying the same disposition, as if they had received a blessing! 

… a blessing indeed, and one that is not often recognized when country dwellers head for the city under the illusion that they will have a better life. And so it was an elderly man by Western standards, but physically strong and making a living selling wares in a local market just outside Cairo, Egypt. As I was enquiring about an item he had for sale, he grabbed my right hand, unbecoming for a man to grab a strange woman’s hand). However, my response was slow as I saw the pain in his eyes, and realized the reason for grabbing my right hand, and he spoke of the rings I was wearing, out of a value for a past he yearned for with all his heart. He hated the city, he hated the city life and the city people, he found himself trapped, but somehow he could not find his way back South. It was not the first time my right hand has had that impact on another, but it is a horrible feeling to feel trapped! 

Food for Thought

Many people are feeling trapped for various reasons, but increasingly for many the fear is of not being able to put food on the table. The once rotting vegetables I used to see street traders give to the poor on request, is now being sold for slightly less than the more extortionate vegetables in the street markets.  The conditioning of commercialization and standardization of the food market (a globalized food system) has led a number of people who used to keep roof gardens, aviaries, chickens etc, sheep etc, feel that their small provisions are for those on a low income bracket, and that income bracket means basically one is unable to live in the mainstream of life.

It is ironic, yet hopeful that now some New York city dwellers have been trying to be proactive with their fears, by creating city gardens. Well, there is not much space at street level for a garden so the gardens are on the roof tops. It is a definite way to contribute to one’s food chain, but also to lead a more proactive life that can remind one of the purposes of nature. Instead of taking out one’s angst on an innocent fellow human being like one’s relative, spouse, child or neighbor, one can turn one’s angst into a creative process, and cut out the middle man in the food supply chain. God must be laughing when we realize how much a solution is within our own hands. 

While in the U.K., the government is pressing for the English to re-establish the English garden, in the U.S., individuals are taking control, and enjoying it too! Whether it is the roof top, or the balcony, there is growing support for the farmers market, where small hold farmers and individuals can take their produce and sell it direct and fresh to the consumer, for a lot less! Does this not make better sense instead of handing over our stomachs to a few who are growing fatter and richer (i.e. the food industry) off of our unrealized sense of powerlessness! Not only that, but it promises to be a family activity that can bond the family, when all else seems to be undermining the family.

I do not have a garden now, but I did, and a local farmer used to provide a home delivery service for his organically grown products, and I can say without any hesitation that, that lifestyle gave me more control than the current city life, whereby one’s material needs are not within one’s control. 

Unfortunately in the U.S. as a result of reclaiming control of one’s food, food policy councils are cropping up all over the country in an attempt to develop a food policy with farmers, and gardeners. The aim is to figure out how to “re-localize the food system, but isn’t that happening anyway! The inspectors who are not doing their job very well at the moment could be directed to visit gardeners of food to ensure that  certain health and animal rights standards are being met, but not much more than that is really required!

Our creativity during a crisis cannot be matched. It is for governments to grow up and realize that we were not born to be their slaves, especially in a country where the standardized food production is void of the health of the nation!

 {O, you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with, and give thanks to Allah if Him it is that you serve.} (Al Baqarah 2: 172)

Toolbox:

Sources:

Trueman, K. “Fresh off the Urban Farm”.

http://local.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=25750327&page=0

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The World Food Prize

Reawakening Afghan Gardens With a Purpose

Reclaiming Nature’s Knowledge Base

Increasing Food Insecurity for Short Term Gain

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect! 

United Against Hunger – Standing Up For Justice

What They Didn’t Tell Us About Soya Beans

Your Vitamins and Minerals

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