As a kid, I played Monkey In the Middle with my older brother and his friends. They delighted in throwing the ball far above my head making the likelihood of me catching it microscopic in nature. Every once in a while, I outsmarted them and snagged the ball which earned me temporary bragging rights — but mostly it left me frustrated and unequipped for success.
The buzz word sustainability often takes me metaphorically back to that childhood game. The word itself encompasses such a broad range of ideas and topics that it becomes difficult to tie it down into meaningful bullet points for action. The politics surrounding the word also exacerbate the inherent complexities as large corporate businesses, NGO’s, and politicians bat the word back and forth in an effort to prove to Americans that they are engaged in the conversation.
Without a doubt — the sustainability of our country, our culture and our planet is vital to both our present and our future. Effectively learning from the past, changing our actions in the present, and teaching our children how to protect for the future helps to ensure our livelihood. There is no easy or simple answer to the challenge of creating something meaningful and sustainable. It takes both a grass roots understanding of the challenges as well as dedication on the part of each individual to work toward positive action.
Sustainability is not a headline — it is not a marketing label — it is not piece of legislation — it does not appear magically at the end of a rainbow…
Sustainability is a team effort — One that effects each and every one of us in multiple ways.
I spent a large amount of time this winter covering the topics that I believe are vital to the sustainability of our future:
- Identifying and reducing food waste
- Getting balanced and meaningful science back into both the education and the research on nutrition
- Realizing that good personal health comes from a diversely balanced diet teamed with appropriate levels of exercise
- Understanding that responsibly growing food animals is a complex challenge that includes a dedication to environmental stewardship and quality animal welfare.
There is one component of sustainability that is often not voiced.
It is trust.
I am deeply saddened at the lack of trust and faith that Americans have in farmers. From the individual American — to the large corporate grocery store– to the philosophical intellectual foodie — to the NGO — to the government — In the last twenty years, our country has collectively abandoned support for the people that grow food. Instead of building appreciation and goodwill; a plentiful, diverse and safe food supply has rendered the American people unsatisfied, distrustful, and accusatory.
Sustainability is not possible without nourishment.
Widespread nourishment disappears when the American Farmer decides to only feed his/her own family and leave the profession of agriculture behind. There will come a point when those of us who work to feed the world will decide that it really just isn’t worth the pain when the only thing that you get in return is the ability to wear the monkey hat.
Do you value the farmer who feeds you? Please take the time to request that farmers be included in the sustainability discussion.
*If you missed the winter blog posts on this subject, some of them are chronicled according to topic below.
Environmental and Animal Welfare: