Monday, November 05, 2012

Thank You For The Beans

Gracias, por frijoles, la olla, agua, ajo, y sal. Gracias, por mi madre, mis abuelas, las memorias de cocinas, mesas, platos, las manos.

Preparing a pot of beans never fails to surface good, good memories. I feel in company with my mother, and her mother. I am in my Tia Ventura's yard, thirty years ago, and she's cleaning beans. She holds a small bowl, flicks it deftly, the beans fly up. She blows away loose bits, debris, and the beans spill back into the bowl. She repeats this. It's a beautiful rhythm, and the arc of the beans, holding in the air, is alluring. They come down, like a pattering rainfall on a tin roof.

As many times as I have sorted and cleaned my own beans, I am never without the memories, and spiritual company, of all those wonderful women I have known. I can't say that collective knowledge is necessary for such a simple task. But that is beside the point... the point being... I love when a routine chore presents an opportunity for feeling a comforting connectedness, for gratitude, for a sense that there is trust in traditions passed from generation to generation.

Thank you.
Thank you, for beans, the pot, water, garlic, and salt. Thank you for my mother, my grandmothers, memories of kitchens, tables, plates, and hands.

This is the month of Thanksgiving, of harvest, of gratitude, of being truly aware of our connectedness with each other and with this Earth, with God, with the astonishing mystery of variety, and balance, inherent in nature. I am thankful for gardens and seeds, for planting, and growing what nourishes our bodies, and promises health to our children, their children. I am thankful for this era of knowledge, reason, understanding, when we can foresee the need to protect our resources, and plan for the next harvest, the next planting, the next Thanksgiving.

Recently, I was realizing that I have always believed in a most basic assertion... that seeds belong to the Earth and to the people who save them, plant them, share them, and plant them again. We depend on continuity... of our collective knowledge, the seasons, regeneration... one seed, begets the next. I am thankful for this tradition, but I fear this basic truth, this essential balance, is in jeopardy. As a nation, the United States, has prided itself on the independence of the individual, on our manifest assertion that we govern ourselves, choose our destinies, hold the right to pursue our happiness, but we have slowly, catastrophically, relinquished control over these assertions.

It confounds me that we are risking the seed, our food, our choices, the most basic components and symbols of our independence, our strengths, our health, our collective knowledge and traditions, and handing over all control and power to private corporations. Throughout history humans have struggled with power, who has it, who wields it. We have gained great strides in understanding that in a healthy, vibrant, just society no single entity, or body of people, can have supreme control or power over the same resources that are needed by all people for life, for health, for trust.

We do not accept totalitarian government. We do not accept subjugation for all, under one religion. We do not settle for one political party, or even one channel television programming. We demand the right to know, in countless arenas, and yet tomorrow, in California, we are being asked to vote, to choose between, labeling GMOs, genetically modified organisms in our food, or allowing food companies, pesticide, fertilizer, and chemical corporations to make the choices for us, and to leave us ignorant of their choices.

Why? Why are we having to make the case for labeling? What blundering nonsense has brought us to the point when we have to seek permission to hold private corporations accountable, and ask them to 'please let me know what you have done to my food, where did it come from, how have you altered it?' And why are these corporations fighting, spending, protesting our interest in being informed consumers?

Monsanto, you are not my religion. You are not my elected government. You are not my grandmother, my guardian, you are not my God, and I relinquish you from power over our traditions, our health, our future, our harvest, our choices, our beans!

I am voting Yes for California Proposition 37: "A YES vote on this measure means: Genetically engineered foods sold in California would have to be specifically labeled as being genetically engineered."

"Proposition 37 gives us the right to know what is in the food we eat and feed to our families. It simply requires labeling of food produced using genetic engineering, so we can choose whether to buy those products or not. We have a right to know."


Sylvia said...

That was so eloquent, Natalie, that I wish I were in California and could vote!

Anna Banana said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post. One modification (respectfully): "allowing food companies, pesticide, fertilizer, and chemical corporations to make the choices for us" Continuing to allow...since I don't know...the 90s? Huge mistake to allow this in the first place! The toothpaste is out of the tube, I fear there is no going back even if 37 wins. Monsanto will keep this in the courts, delay and delay. :(

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Yes, you're right. They are already quite comfy in their self-appointed thrones...
I know I've barely shone a light on a massive rats nest. I hope tomorrow we find that more people are willing to begin the long process of clearing the damned rats!

They will delay, and we are probably losing more ground every day. Let's monitor the rats, and focus on the good possibilities... like simple food, local food, labeled food, organic food, homegrown food, and keeping seeds.

For the beans! It's my anthem.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Sylvia.
I am starting to appreciate that even when we aren't at the polls, we can vote... every time we shop, eat, garden, and choose.

judy in ky said...

Natalie, you make perfect sense. I had not thought too much about this, but I will now.

Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking. Well done. Ruth

test said...

Natalie, I do very much agree with you, I wonder why we are this far behind some other countries in labeling GMO's?

Shanda said...

Wow, I sure hope this passes for you. Even if it's tied up in the courts, the people have spoken. How exciting, I wish we had this as a national law, maybe one day. For the beans!

zan said...

Amen to that, Natalie. I wholeheartedly agree. YES on Prop 37.

Jenny said...

I've been following California's efforts with this issue. I'm wondering what happened with Prop 37 yesterday? I heard it may not have passed?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

That did not go well.
It seems that the 44 million dollars spent by "food" manufacturers to persuade the public that 'we don't need to _know_ what we are eating' was highly effective in continuing the deceptions.

So. No labeling for GMOs? Let's try another path. Suppose we buy food that is labeled "No GMOs," while thinking twice before giving our money to those corporations that think it's their business to keep us in the dark. Isn't it (at the very least) highly suspicious that they so eagerly blew-off 44 million dollars to protect their empire?

This is a list of some companies that use GMO's and/or paid to stop prop 37. I am sorry... it's depressingly long:

Cascadian Farm
Muir Glen Organic
RW Knudson
Santa Cruz Organic
Aunt Jemima
Betty Crocker
General Mills
Duncan Hines
Hungry Jack
Mrs Butterworth
Pepperidge Farms
Aurora Foods
Kraft-Phillip Morris
Post Cereals
Interstate Bakeries
Best Foods
Nature Valley
KC Masterpiece
Frito Lay
Delicious brand cookies
Famous Amos
Green Giant
Healthy Choice
Kid Cuisine
Lean Cuisine
Marie Callenders
Smart Ones
Power Bar
Chef Boyardee
Loma Linda
Uncle Ben's
Tombstone Pizza
Orville Redenbacher
Pop Secret
Procter and Gamble
Coca Cola
Minute Maid
Ocean Spray

Jennifer said...

I was stunned and saddened when this proposition did not pass; I agree with you that it's ludicrous that we must ask permission to know what we are being sold, what we are eating. I think so many of us were counting on California to lead the way, as it has so very many times in the past, to reforms that would sweep the country. Was the argument that the regulation would raise food prices? What value do we put on our health, and on the future of the planet, I wonder.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

They scared people into believing that it was all a silly call... unnecessary and adding cost to food. What they (rightly) fear is that the truth will hurt sales. I appreciate that each of those companies represents real jobs, families, and I have no interest in seeing individuals suffer job losses, wage losses. But I want to KNOW... we should all KNOW. And yes, sales may be affected, but smart business people, good farmers, clever CEOs will see that the greater good is to preserve biodiversity, to be honest, and to produce food that the consumer expects, deserves and has the right to know about.

My faith and trust in food producers is shattered... perhaps this all comes late in the game, and I know I will be hard pressed to go 'wildly-militantly-urban-food-warrior.' But I am willing to increase my awareness, and further shift my shopping habits toward responsible stewardship for our bodies, and our planet.

It is sad.

Jenny said...

Holy smokes!? Even folks like Kashi?! Maybe a shorter list would be the companies NOT suing GMOs. Sad.