Food, Water and Purpose

I am reflecting upon what these past six years have taught me about the crisis of poverty in American families.  I am even more convinced of the vision of the village where families and individuals live while both earning a living wage and being trained for the future.  People need reconnecting to each other within a community that sustains dignity from birth to death.  This model is as old as humanity itself, even with all its warts.  But given the size of a wart, there can be no comparison to the effects of the cancerous degeneration of society in which we presently live.

The vertical farming village may be years away, but by working with others, Wyoming Village Green will embark upon what can be done in today’s social environment that still offers hope while recognizing a decline in economic opportunity for many.  With the ability to read and hear words from all over the world, we now know that our justification for understanding hunger in Third World countries has limited our awareness of hunger in our own back yards.  The Sixties Decade began with media saturation of social issues that resound just as loudly today.  There are multitudes of voices bringing clarity to every known need in global society.  Any person of conscience will read and listen with tugs on every heart string, but at some point we have to choose exactly what we want and can do.

Wyoming Village Green has chosen for now one part of an overall vision:  Food (and the Water it takes to grow).  This subject has as many complexities as living, and for now, we’re satisfied that it will keep us busy for the rest of our lives. Nutritious food has to be grown, harvested, distributed and prepared so everyone can have a foundation of basic need on which to heal and grow.

Depression and Food

“There was this kind of depression,” he said. “Everyone was dreaming to come to the U.S.A., but they were not happy. The people were put in apartments, missing activity, community. They were bored.”

From a New York Times article reporting on the availability and importance of familiar foods from homelands devastated by wars and personal sacrifices.  All over the United States, immigrants fleeing danger are growing new roots and identifying which strands of humanity are missing.  Just because one is safe from being murdered doesn’t mean one is happy.  That’s the gist of the background of many who have become farmers in order to reconnect both the physical and the emotional roots of life. 

This sense of isolation causing emotional depression isn’t constrained just to immigrants subjected to upheaval.  I think it is safe to say that millions of Americans feel a similar depression, but don’t talk about it because they know their experiences don’t compare to those who have literally experienced danger.  But depression is depression.  Isolation from one’s roots — even roots one or two generations left behind — is real.  Memories are not just what we recall; they are what we feel.  Hunger for what was past becomes hunger for what binds us together – the social context of food.   

Thanksgiving Dinner shouldn’t be once a year — it should be every Sunday.  But more importantly, the daily planning of such a day with foods grown and shared by local hands should include all who sit at the table.  Changing the terminology of how we describe certain conditions doesn’t catch the history and sometimes a term or phrase sets up a false notion.  “Shut ins” sounds secure; someone feeds and checks up on “shut ins”. 

We should have named them “shut outs”.  Immediately, we know that is not acceptable.  A “shut out” suffers isolation and depression…hunger.  Let’s change that.

Vertical farming and the critics

The first high-rise vertical farm hasn’t been built yet, and the critics are already pouncing.  One writer mocks wheat growing in the skies, but the truth is that we should be reviewing the future of wheat considering draught and alternating flooding.  This critic also warned of the energy costs of growing all those thousands of acres of wheat in the sky.  Such energy of criticizing could be well spent in analyzing the energy we waste every day.  I don’t know of any serious vertical farm enthusiast who suggests growing wheat, so hopefully that’s the end of that.  But when wheat is scarce and my jar of peanut butter begs for two slices of bread, maybe I’ll be tempted to ask, “why not”?

There are other grains and produce that can be made into flours.  Wheatless bread has been around for ages, and some of those ingredients can be vertically farmed quite well.  My PB&J sandwich will be grateful.