I just finished The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, and I am overwhelmed.
Not by the enormity of the challenge that faces farmers and gardeners in the battle to save genetic diversity, not by the incredible, horrible things that have occurred due to corporate greed and consumers turning a blind eye to the high costs of convenient, cheap food.
No, I'm overwhelmed by the powerful theme of hope throughout this book. It's more than yet another book about the evils of chemical farming and the merits of preserving our cultural heritage. It's a story of acceptance, of listening to the stories behind what we choose to grow in our gardens and harvest to feed our families, friends, and communities. It's a call for action, in whatever ways you choose to take that action to face the challenges of making food a long-term option in our world today, but in a positive, non-dictatorial way. Instead of feeling nauseated or frightened or powerless, I feel like I've had the best kind of visit with a good friend. You know, the kind of visit where you talk about anything and everything, where your life is laid out on the table between slices of pie and good tea, and stitched back together smoothly and seamlessly like the scarf that miraculously grows between your needles as you knit and talk, knit and talk.
Too many times, I watch a documentary or read a book about the perils of continuing down the chemical path of Big Ag, and end up feeling angry. Like I want to break windows or throw fire or just stomp around like a deranged Yeti. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to finish a book like this, and feel free and inspired. I want to go and sort all my hoarded seeds, and plan and plot to gather new ones to plant in warm soil, watch them grow to harvest and share with others. The farmer in me is cheering, her fist pumped to the sky and the sun falling warm on her smiling, upturned face.
"I say, Rev up your awesome. Look around, so many people have their shoulders into the load. You. Pick a place to push. Pick up a tool--a hoe or a shovel. Start turning the compost bin, to make the soil in which the seed will grow. You will begin at the center, the center of many concentric circles that expand further and further out from you. You will become a local hero and a local rock star, and from there your influence will wash outward, even across the glob, where so many people are rising up like germinating embryos to claim food sovereignty, to rescue local seeds, and to guard human civilization's cornucopia. Come home. Have the courage to live the life you dream: There is nothing greater than this.
Are you going to farmer up or just lie there and bleed?" -- Janisse Ray, The Seed Underground