If you are a follower of FED UP, you have probably noticed my entries have gotten sparser. Two main excuses: I got a new job that takes much of my time and energy, and I am a bit lost in the food movement right now. Put differently, I don’t know where to pick my battles to have the most impact. Or, more humbly, I know a good place to start is changing how our government and food corporations operate, but I don’t know how my rantings on a blog will ever change these Goliaths. I know in our efforts to feed billions as cheaply as possible, we have corrupted many things. It’s been a murky downward spiral that touches on health, the environment, social justice, poverty, and many more issues. Yes, I am still fed up – no doubt about it! I suppose, then , I am fed up with not having the power for widespread change. It starts with changing the attitudes of those with power! I have touted many times the benefits of a triple bottom line approach: to be economically, environmentally, and socially responsible. I have discussed the idea of “externalized” costs; that a $1 value meal may look cheap on paper, but there are huge, often hidden, costs to public health, economic inequality, the environment, animal welfare…you name it!
The answer is both simple and incredibly difficult. If we as a world population could all agree that there is more to life than mere profit and acted accordingly, then we might have a chance to see new possibilities. If we could get the food corporations to realize, for example, that it’s in their best interest to feed their customers in a way that sustains them, they would have customers for a longer period of time (duh!) and perhaps even be revered enough to get passed onto future generations. Insurance companies have started to wake up to the fact that healthier people means less claims, which then means more profit. It would mean imploding the sacred cash cow that is healthcare, though. That whole industry thrives on the world being sick. This probably explains why universal healthcare has such a hard time gaining traction in the U.S. Capitalism is short-sighted and looks to how we can make cash now: it’s not necessarily concerned about promoting customer health and longevity. It’s also not necessarily concerned about having a planet in 30 or 50 years in which to conduct business, it’s only about profiting in the here and now.
Sure, I am guilty of thinking short-term. Carpe diem, right? We only live once and you never know when your last day is going to be, so I might as well as live it up. If I make a lot of money, who knows if I will be around tomorrow to spend it. So maybe that’s ultimately what we are fighting – a kind of life scarcity that prevents us from thinking down the road at larger implications. It takes a certain kind of faith, humbleness, and altruism to believe that I am part of something bigger. And it takes a certain kind of wisdom and optimism to understand that my actions matter in this “something bigger” worldview. I am either complacent and therefore agree – however passively or actively – with the status quo. Or I live by principle that I am trying to do something good – for me, for others, for the environment, for future generations. Despite how sporadic my blog entries are, I will maintain it out of principle. Interestingly, I thought I was going to write about the inherent lack of sustainability in blogs just now, but I arrived at a much better place! Namely, principles are sustainable!
So our challenge is to have more people – particularly the ones that influence society, government, and corporations – live more with principles of decency and respect for all life. What do you want on your epitaph? “I made a shitload of money” or “I fought the good fight.”?