Agropocalypse Now!

Last night our group had a presentation that looked at a
different aspect of conventional agriculture: unethical labor practices.
heard a presentation by Emily Drakage from the Association of Farmworker
Opportunities Programs (AFOP) about the 400,000 recorded
children working in
conventional agriculture across the country. She showed us slides of
as young as six years old, mainly Latino/a, working with their parents
in the
fields. They are exposed to heat, poor sanitation, toxic pesticides,
equipment, and long days which keep them out of school. Their career
destination reaches no farther than to put cheap food on our tables.

It was a heartbreaking presentation that, for some
of us,
clarified our motivation for advocating nationwide agricultural reform.
until this point, our team had approached agriculture from a mainly
environmental standpoint, matching the problems of human impact on the
with solutions in lifestyle changes and local agriculture. Over the
course of
meeting non-profit organization staff members, local farmers,
of education institutions and church communities, we have encountered
attitudes to these problems, ranging from apocalyptically urgent to
bucolic. But now looking at social issues as well has
widened our
view to see that not only the earth is suffering. Our sickened
systems gravely affect both humus and humans.

There is a survivalist worldview that motivates
many local
agrarians to establish expertise, stockpile of food, cut off from “the
and otherwise prepare for an impending ecological collapse. Although
collapse will be global, people who subscribe to this mindset focus on
what is
manageable: their households’ and neighborhoods’ resiliency. The
foundation of
this worldview is fear for their own and loved ones’ well-being in the
event of
an inevitable future catastrophe.

As people of faith, we identify with the emphasis
on local
agriculture and innovation. We also recognize the urgency that shifts
our focus
from “hobby” gardens in the backyards of our homes, to community
projects on the front lawns of our churches. However, as people of
faith, we
wonder whether the hellfire of ecopocalypse is the best way to motivate
fledging agrarian (r)evolution. We do not need to invoke a future
situation of
desperation to the point of starvation because that day arrived a long
time ago
for our brothers and sisters in the fields who are sacrificed to our
national idolatry
of cheap food.

The cost of focusing on a future day is that we
ourselves to the suffering happening today. Too often we motivate change
on threats to our person and not on the suffering on those we may have
the privilege
of ignoring. An ecopocalyptic person may avoid buying supermarket
because they would rather work on their blueberry cultivation skills
which will
save them in the Day of Reckoning. A socially engaged person, however,
choose freely to vote with their dollars by spending the extra money on
trusted farmers’ blueberries – not out of fear, but out of love for the
children who, with their parents, are trapped by the systemic wage
slavery that
makes conventional berries so cheap.

With this love, we can drive out fear, build up the
community, shorten supply chains, and construct a just and inclusive
future. We
feel called, in our agrarian (r)evolution, to integrate our vested
interest in
a sustainable future with our love and solidarity for those who can
sustain themselves today.

~by Talitha G Phillips and Laura Valencia ~