Agriculture

“the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors”

Charlottes-Web-Terrific-Garth-Williams1Read E.B. White’s poignant explanation for writing Charlotte’s Web (io9):

A farm is a peculiar problem for a man who likes animals, because the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors. The creatures may live serenely but they end violently, and the odor of doom hangs about them always. I have kept several pigs, starting them in spring as weanlings and carrying trays to them all through summer and fall. The relationship bothered me. Day by day I became better acquainted with my pig, and he with me, and the fact that the whole adventure pointed toward an eventual piece of double-dealing on my part lent an eerie quality to the thing. I do not like to betray a person or a creature, and I tend to agree with Mr. E.M. Forster that in these times the duty of a man, above all else, is to be reliable. It used to be clear to me, slopping a pig, that as far as the pig was concerned I could not be counted on, and this, as I say, troubled me. Anyway, the theme of “Charlotte’s Web” is that a pig shall be saved, and I have an idea that somewhere deep inside me there was a wish to that effect.

Solution: Go vegan.

Soil, Struggle and Justice

brazil landless movement

CUSLAR, Latin-American Studies Program and Latino Studies Program Present the Film:

Soil, Struggle and Justice:
Agroecology in the Brazilian Landless Movement

With filmmaker Andreas Hernandez

7pm, Tuesday February 25th
Free
History of Art Gallery, Goldwin Smith Hall Basement level,
Cornell University

This documentary is the story of a cooperative of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in the South of Brazil, which struggled for access to land and then transitioned to ecological agriculture, or agroecology. This MST cooperative is demonstrating the possibility of an alternative model of flourishing rural life, which provides thriving livelihoods for farmers, produces high quality and low cost food for the region, and rehabilitates the earth.

Andreas Hernandez is Chair of the Department of International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.

Metaphor and climate change

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Elevator Music and Art Gallery

@New Roots Charter School (116 North Cayuga Street/The Clinton House)

new roots Opening Friday 7th: 5 to 7PM

Still Life with Calving Iceberg

By Maria Driscoll McMahon

“Still Life with Calving Iceberg” is an installation incorporating sculpture and drawing which explores the adolescent condition and identity formation through a central metaphor taken from the natural world: an iceberg that is falling apart, or “calving,” evoking not only catastrophic environmental destruction, but through a metaphor within a metaphor, a baby animal domesticated almost exclusively in rural areas.

Visit newrootsschool.org or call (607) 882-9220.

Help support local agriculture!

cayuga-pure-organicsIf you like me believe that eating local is an important part of being vegan, hopefully you’ve been buying Cayuga Pure Organics‘ locally-produced grains and beans. (We get them at Greenstar Cooperative Market, because we like to support coops whenever possible.)

Well, they had a fire, and now they need help rebuilding. If you believe in a resilient, vegan future for our region, please consider making a donation to their IndieGogo fundraising campaign! It ends on Friday, July 26th.

Happy birthday César Chávez

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Happy birthday to the late, great César Chávez: a labor rights and environmental justice activist, and a vegan. He said,

I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.

10 things you can do to help bees

This morning I started to read Bee Deaths From Colony Collapse Disorder On The Rise As Researchers Point To Pesticides on Huffington Post, and then I realized I’d rather find out how I can help, instead of just feeling bad about the problem. Here are some suggestions I found on the interwebs.

  1. Stop buying GMO, non-organic food, and support organic agriculture instead. Buy used and/or organic clothing.
  2. Learn about where your food and clothing comes from and how much pesticide went into its production.
  3. Stop using pesticides in your own lawn and garden.
  4. Sign petitions banning pesticides, and support the use of organic alternatives.
  5. Encourage your local government to do more to help bees.
  6. Attract bees by planting clover, flowering trees, and herbs that bees like. Provide a water source so they can take a drink when they visit.
  7. Let your veggies go to seed after harvest, to help fatten up your bee neighbors for the long winter.
  8. Educate yourself about bees so you can be more sure of how you relate to them and what you might like to do to help them.
  9. Pass on your knowledge about bees. Your voice is powerful, and the bees can’t speak for themselves! Make sure that kids understand that bees are an important part of their ecosystem.
  10. Provide bee habitat, but make sure you’re keeping bees and humans safe from hurting each other by marking bees’ homes.

    The only one I saw folks mention elsewhere that I didn’t put here was “become a beekeeper / support your local beekeeper.” I don’t feel that it would be my place to confine and manipulate others and take things they make, or to encourage others to do that. It takes the average worker bee her entire life to produce just one twelfth of one teaspoon of honey. They make it for their colony, not for us.

    If you do choose to use bee products, please make sure they’re locally produced and that you feel good about the way the bees are living, from birth to death. Since your decision impacts the lives of other beings, you may want to educate yourself about some of the ethical problems with beekeeping, honey, and beeswax. Thank you!

Veganism: Freedom from ethical contradictions

Well, not entirely! Read my bio for contradictions aplenty. But veganism does allow you to avoid a lot of, shall we say, moral discomfort. I remember worrying a lot more about the impacts of my actions before I went vegan – it was a source of stress for me to think I might be causing suffering (as indeed I was). Once I took the plunge and went vegan, I felt very free. That’s why I think of veganism as a liberatory process.

For instance, I used to say “I love pigs.” And yet if Facebook had existed when I was a carnist, I may have posted photos of a cute piglet on a farm without thinking very much about how he was about to be separated from his mother and would one day face a trip to the slaughterhouse, or about how this farm I’m seeing in this image isn’t at all like the horrific, factory-like farms on which the vast majority of piglets are raised. I may have posted recipes that included “free-range” pork sausage. Back then, I would not have seen the contradiction, but I know I often felt oddly “not right” about my decisions. And I felt really bad when I heard people mention the slaughterhouse, because no matter how much the small farmers we were supporting said what they were doing was humane, I had a hard time imagining what that might look like.

Today, I have a different perspective. I say, “I love pigs,” but I think it’s more important that now I know I should say, even more importantly, “I respect pigs,” because they are not objects for me to desire or want or eat or use or confine or buy or sell. They are individual persons, just like me, who desire autonomy and freedom.

So today on Facebook, the new me posted a recipe for vegan traditional pork pies, and a photo of a rescued pig at a Spanish sanctuary. No guilt.

I know that’s good for me personally. But even better, I think it’s really good for the animals I used to exploit, before I realized there was a way to opt out of the violence I was causing.