By Hwaa Irfan
A revolution can take many forms, but it is only a revolution when it succeeds in uprooting a fraudulent, and oppressive system. We have been witnessing by care of the media, protests mushrooming around the world, the most important of all being the Tunisian and Egyptian youths demanding dignity and respect. Unfortunately labelled the “Arab Spring” it has inspired others around the world, but still many are fully aware to the extent the roots of an avaricious global system that has taken control of our lives. One of the mechanisms claimed by agro-pharmaceutical corporations, bankers, and investors through the stock market is the food supply causing the astronomical rise in food prices, which keep on rising, and is nurturing a global hunger crisis. Afterall, it was former U.S. president who said:
“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
Unaware of all the forces at play that has led to her situation, Somalian, 30-year old Husna Mohammed who once ran an extensive farm in Somalia has found herself and her 8 children in the biggest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab Refugee Camp in North Eastern Province, Kenya along with 332,023 refugees. Instead of allowing herself to feel completely helpless and at the mercy of fortnightly rations of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and corn-soya, as an expectant mother, she has taken the health and nutrition of her children into her own hands. Outside of the tent that Husna and her children live in, Husna has grown a vegetable garden. Her garden consists of beans, potatoes, pumpkins, greens and maize. Her children are kept busy, by helping to water the garden whenever they can get water from the long queues at the watering hole. Husna is doing so well, she is even able to help supplement the diet of other members of the refugee camp.
In the West
Husna might not know it, but she is better off than thousands of people who live on estates in the West, in boxes atop of boxes of homes free of green space that they can use to supplement their diet. They are faced with soaring food prices, and increasing unemployment. Yet, a non-visible revolution has been going on whereby individuals in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., have been taking control of their food supply by growing their own.
On the island of Maine, U.S. in March 2011, a unanimous vote took place in support of the Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance. The town of Sedgwick took the vote to protect small-scale farming by exempting direct farm sales from state and federal licensing and inspection. The aim is to encourage first time farmers and home produce. Bob St. Peter explained in the press release:
“My family is already working on some ideas we can do from home to help pay the bills and get our farm going.”
“It’s tough making a go of it in rural America,”
“Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbours. Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”
“And every food dollar that leaves our community is one more dollar we don’t have to pay for our rural schools or to provide decent care for our elders,”
“We need the money more than corporate agribusiness,” furnished St. Peter who is also on the board of Washington D.C. based National Family Farm Coalition.
The preamble to the Ordinance reads:
We the People of the Town of County, Maine have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms, and local food traditions. We recognize that family farms, sustainable agricultural practices, and food processing by individuals, families and non-corporate entities offers stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community. As such, our right to a local food system requires us to assert our inherent right to self-government. We recognize the authority to protect that right as belonging to the Town of (name of town) .
“We have faith in our citizens’ ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions. We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice. We support food that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, nourishes individuals and the community, and sustains producers, processors and the environment. We are therefore duty bound under the Constitution of the State of Maine to protect and promote unimpeded access to local foods.”
Be the change you want to be said Mohatma Gandhi!
Miller, N. “A Declaration of Local Food Independence.”
Wanger, J. “Struggle to Feed Eight Children in a Refugee Camp.” http://www.nation.co.ke/News/regional/Struggle+to+feed+eight+children+in+a+refugee+camp+/-/1070/1142204/-/vykoujz/-/