"Agriculture is not just about putting things in the ground and then harvesting them...it is increasingly about the social and environmental variables that will in large part determine the future capacity of agriculture to provide for eight or nine billion people in a manner that is sustainable" - Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP
This Earth Day, I thought it important to consider an often unsung hero of the environmental movement that remains our best line of defense in securing the ultimate goal of environmentalism - our sustainable existence. That unsung hero is the local family farmer, and must be an integral part of the solution to the tsunami of interrelated epidemics on the global horizon from the world food crisis to the world energy crisis and every imported fruit and vegetable driven home from a Supercenter in a plastic shopping bag in between.
Part of the reason I wanted folks to think about the family farmer this Earth Day and their important role in our sustainable existence is based on a conversation I had with a well meaning, young conservationist at an event not too long ago. I was talking about how important it is to bring our local family farmers to the table as our first line of food and conservation defense, and she scoffed they were the problem and don't impact her because she buys her food at the grocery store. Bless her heart, I know her intentions were pure, no matter how misguided.
But it did make me think about the imaginary lines of a political divide that's been the excuse against progress for too long. We must look out for one another, and bring all to the table in this effort, as we are all in this together.
I would encourage everyone this Earth Day to find one person to compliment for something they are doing right. It's not all about criticism. Thank a complete stranger you see today for riding a bike, using a recycled shopping bag or take the time to stop by your local produce stand and get to know your local family farmer.
A little positive thinking and reinforcement can go a long way.