Fionna Johnson currently runs Tierra Verde International, an eco-consultancy involved with various projects in Europe. She is a long-term champion of the natural environment and has worked on many organic and permaculture projects.
EXTRACTS from Fionna's forthcoming book: Homo conscientious – Green print for a better future
Having studied nature and our global environmental predicament for the last 25 years I have come to some conclusions which, to me at least, are obvious. However to others no doubt I am being ridiculous, but do you know what? I don’t care. Logic is the order of the day to me, despite my spiritual/scientific leanings. So here are some simple facts and ideas, see what you think.
Ok I have a problem. As Che Guevara said “if you can stand by and see an injustice and quiver with indignation then you are a friend of mine”.
Well one of the things that make me quiver with indignation is the fact that whilst 80% of the world go to bed hungry 20% are battling with obesity.
How can that be?
AND I hasten to add it is NOT the obese people’s fault!
REPEAT IT IS NOT THE OBESE PEOPLE’S FAULT!
It’s a complex issue but not a hard one to grasp. Honestly. And here is why.
First of all the average westernised person should be consuming (so the experts say anyway) 2000 calories on average depending on gender, exercise, age etc.
The average person needs a healthy balanced diet.
Now the QUALITY of the food required will give you the said healthy balanced diet.
However the average western diet DOES NOT give you a healthy balanced diet.
Have you noticed that many of the fattest people are the poorest in the western world whilst most of the poor in the non-westernised world are thin?
When you can go to your local supermarket and buy two bottles of lemonade and 4 packets of biscuits for under £1 total, yet a small packet of organic blueberries full of anti-oxidants and vitamins will set you back £3 then it’s a no brainer that if you are struggling financially you will have to feed your family on processed nutrient depleted food rather than spend your meagre budget on a packet of blueberries. After all, how far will a packet of blueberries go to a family of four? what good will that do? Precious little, Let’s be honest. You need to have a majority of fresh raw food, consisting of fruit and vegetables that are organic to give yourself a chance of a decent well balanced diet.
How controversial is that?
Because some people do not believe that organic food is better for you
Some people believe that raw food is not particularly beneficial either
Some people believe that we only need 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day for optimum health!
Some people believe that we should get our protein from meat and we then have a good diet.
Some people believe that growing food as part of a monoculture system is sufficient for optimum nutrient uptake
Some people believe that genetically modified food is the way to feed the world
Some people believe that the world is overpopulated
Some people believe that war is a necessary evil to reduce the planet’s population
Some people believe that we have never had it so good, that we are lucky, that we have such a wide choice of fresh food stuffs at such a cheap price, so we have nothing to complain about.
Some people do not think that soil quality has anything to do with the food we eat.
Some people are misguided at best and lying at worst.
So who are these people and what do they want?
Well, twenty odd years ago I did a course in organic horticulture, and one of my teachers was Jo Readman , star of Channel Four’s “All Muck and Magic”.
It was one of those life changing experiences for me and was yet another one of those catalysts on my journey to uncover the truth.
Now in one of my lectures I was told that, in conventional agriculture, Humus was not even discussed as a necessary requirement of growing food crops. We have chemical fertilizers and subsequently we do not need to bother about improving the environment to grow our crops. Although there is a growing awareness driven by us the consumer, on the whole, things haven’t changed much.
After all we can grow food now using hydroponics.
We can grow food in near desert conditions. Just add artificial chemically rich water!!!!!!
I think not.
Every year we lose about 5% of the top soil of our planet. Every year we have even less good quality land to grow vital crops to feed the increasing population.
Every year, more and more people are introduced to our poor westernised diets.
Every year more people become obese
Every year more people become malnourished!
And it’s not necessarily the non-westernised peoples!
Have you joined the dots yet?
Ok so here are the facts spelled out simply and plainly.
We are cutting down trees and clearing land to grow MONOCULTURE crops
The land is then becoming eroded.
It will NO LONGER sustain the growth of monoculture crops
So we fix this by providing Chemical substitutes to feed the plants.
Over the last 50 years we have denatured the soil, the crops , wiped out untold life in the form of biodiversity and contributed to the denaturing of our planet to provide denatured food for the ever increasing population.
We have upset our planets climate, fuelling the ever increasing problem of desertification.
We are becoming increasingly chronically sick, having to rely on drugs to hide the symptoms of our failing systems, and all is indicative of the same problem.
Chemicals.... drugs .....synthetic solutions to organic problems.
We need organic solutions to organic problems.
Processed cheap food is not feeding the world.
Monoculture is not feeding the world
Bag nitrates are not replacing the nutrients in our soil. Only substituting them.
Our chemically fed food is not providing us with the correct nutrients for a healthy balance diet.
But international companies ARE making huge profits out of our dying planet.
They are making huge profits out of our chronically ill population.
They are making money out of our need to sustain ourselves through artificial means.
I read a report several years ago that said that non-organically grown food had 40-50% fewer nutrients than organic food.
That means quiet simply that if we live on a diet of raw fruit and vegetables non-organically grown we will be craving an additional intake of 40-50% more food to keep our bodies healthy.
Likewise eating processed foods we have a deficiency of about 40%
Does that mean that we are now craving twice as much food in the westernised world? Could this be why the westernised world is becoming more and more clinically obese?
Is it really our fault?
NO!I don’t believe it is.
What choice do we have when feeding your family takes up thelast spare bit of income over keeping the roof over your head, taking the kids to school and travelling to work? If you are lucky enough to have a job of course.
It’s capitalist economics and it’s not designed to support you. Just exploit your needs.
So... what to do eh?
Easy! Let’s sort it out. We can! We can change this! It’s a bit radical... It’s called sharing, community, working together, doing things selflessly.... and it could take you less than 10 minutes a week. Fancy it?
Recently I saw a dreadlocked traveller get out of his ageing van and plant a beautiful grape vine beside the side of the road. There! As simple as that! This man had taken a cutting from a parent plant and grown it on and was now planting out the results to give to the world ... anonymously. Halllujiah!!!! How simple is that? In his van he had apples, cherries, walnuts, hazel, blueberries, and a whole host of other edible plants for the world to share. He, and many others like him, including me, are doing just that. Planting for future generations with no thought to what they will get back from it. Any spare bit of land, any gap in a hedgerow, any lay- by, in fact anywhere that will support a food producing life giving plant is fair game to the guerrilla food producers of the future. So if you have 10 minutes a week spare, please, go out and do something that will truly help future generations. Bee selfless ! There is a whole beautiful planet out there waiting to be saved!!! And generations of people flora and fauna who will thank you for it.
Dedicated to Yeva and Tlakaelel. Your work towards world peace and a sustainable future will always be remembered and appreciated. Thank you.
Copyright © 2012 Fionna Johnson