By contributor Chantelle Spicer
Many questions and concerns are being raised regarding food security on a global scale, as well as on our Island. With the costs of fruits and vegetables noticeably on the rise, it is becoming a reality affecting our diets and wallets. More and more, people are beginning to realize that the value of food lies not only in the fact that it keeps us alive—though that is very important. Food systems not only keep us healthy, but also, if done in non-industrial methods, increases the health of the land and communities who use it. It is really a whole new way of viewing ourselves and food as a living part of the planet.
A major player in this movement is Vandana Shiva, a doctor of quantum physics from India, who recognized a need for the continuing of traditional systems within this increasingly industrialized world—a peace that needed to be created not only through the act of farming itself. This included a celebration of the earth’s natural diversity with accessibility to knowledge regarding the land and organic farming practices, which had been lost. By encouraging this, a symbiotic relationship could be formed between farmer and land, which would work to heal the wounds created by years of chemical dependency under the Green Revolution.
At the heart, states Shiva, is the idea that “seeds are the first link in the food chain and the repository of life’s future evolution,” which is based on re-establishing the access to natural seeds for farmers everywhere. Shiva’s passionate viewpoints on agricultural globalization has spawned grassroot organizations worldwide which educate the general public on the importance of organic growing, which nurtures the cyclic dependency that humans and natural well-being have with each other. Traditional agricultural practices on a global scale may help secure a stable food supply for all people into the future.
Her efforts support the ideals of ancient Indian texts, some dating back to 2500 BC, that impart the significance of agriculture once held within these societies. The land and its proper utilization, including seed collection, sowing, planting, and disease management held an important position for traditional farmers of these times. This art of cultivation has been handed down from one generation to the next through folk songs, rituals, riddles, and proverbs. With the onslaught of modernization in agriculture, the old values have fast disappeared except in tribal cultures.
The issues of agriculture and its adaptations for climate change are incredibly complex issues and require the implementation of solutions and adjustments that may come from unexpected places. Traditional agricultural systems were the product of centuries of accumulated experience which included an understanding of ecological limitations as well as the socioeconomic structures around them. By rekindling this relationship, societies may be given the chance to better adapt to our changing world. By empowering citizens around the world to revolt against large corporations which support the inadaptable, monoculture styles of agriculture, Vandana Shiva is assisting in this shift. Recognizing the destruction of our relationship to the land, Shiva states: “We have taken the idea of industrialization and imposed it everywhere to deny the processes of actual creation, production and reproduction…shifting this ideal might bring down corporate power and monopolies, bringing about a reclassification of what wealth means in relation to human well-being.”
The success of Vandana Shiva’s revolution is hard to quantify. However, the real impact Shiva is making is with her campaign to bring awareness and education to the people of the world. Having published 20 books and numerous journal articles, along with being the recipient of 22 awards since 1993, she has been touted as the voice of Mother Earth and proclaimed an “eco-goddess” by many. Through this global acclaim she has acquired from her science-based and compassionate voice, she has begun a true revolution in the minds of people around the world. It is in these thoughts that true change can happen through the questioning of progress, reconnecting to our natural ecological systems, and respecting life itself expressed in the form of a seed.
Shiva will be in Victoria on Monday, February 29 at the Farquhar Auditorium on the UVic campus. The event will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in collaboration with Harmony Foundation, LifeCycles, and UVic’s Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community University Engagement. A discussion on the connectedness of food systems to the environment and communities will wrap up with questions. This will also include information on how you can connect with local movements and food initiatives. Shiva will also be available for book signings. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at tickets.uvic.ca.