Given that the shared understanding of truth has been central to language, religion and society, when we ignore small lies, we inflict damage on the larger truth.
This is not holiness we’re talking about, but wholeness and integrity.
~ Gina Barreca
Because every exchange is always a relationship, to get the most while giving the least is unjust, unethical, antisocial, abusive, perhaps ‘evil.’ Yet predatory commerce (“the free market” as it is euphemistically called) operates regularly on the principle of ‘get the most and pay the least.’
~ James Hillman
As the connections have been broken by the fragmentation and isolation of work, they can be restored by restoring the wholeness of work. There is work that is isolating, harsh, destructive, specialized or trivialized into meaninglessness. And there is work that is restorative, convivial, dignified and dignifying, and pleasing. Good work is not just the maintenance of connections – as one is now said to work “for a living” or “to support a family” – but the enactment of connections. It is living, and a way of living; it is not support for a family in the sense of an exterior brace or prop, but is one of the forms and acts of love.
~ Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace
How was your weekend? Did you do anything new or exciting or was it a weekend to relax and seek the comforts of the familiar? New and exciting might seem like it is hard to come by during our pandemic times, but I do think it’s possible to find in safe ways.
M and I had a mostly quiet weekend at home. We went out on Saturday morning to visit some of the local farms and farmers, picking up fresh produce while we were there. The visits and conversations got me to thinking about wholeness. You hear a lot about wholeness in yoga world. (For the record, the teaching I have learned is that we are already whole. We just think we’re broken and need to be fixed.) I suppose the crazy wellness influencers are into wholeness in some way, too, although their turn towards “body sovereignty” has (in my opinion) distorted the idea.
We try to get to know the farmers who grow the food we buy locally. I do think about the farms and farmers who grow the food we buy from the grocery store, but that’s a gratitude kind of thing when I’m sitting down to eat and thanking all of those who helped bring the food to our table. I can’t get to know them because they are far away somewhere. Sometimes as close as Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Sometimes as far away as Florida, California, Canada, Chile, Peru, and even Holland and Australia. (I swear to the gods, I once bought a trio of colored peppers that had a label stating they were a product of Holland. Seriously? You can’t find peppers here during the growing season, Food Lion? I know you’re a Belgian company. Oh wait. You’re not. Sorry. Apparently you were, but then the company was acquired by a company in the Netherlands. Never mind.)
Where was I? Farms and farmers. I’ve been buying quite a bit of produce from DN Farms. Bushels of peppers and tomatoes, mostly, but we also pick up some of whatever else is in season while we’re there. A couple of years ago, Mr. D experimented with growing canary melons. He tried one somewhere, liked it, and decided people here would like it, too. I don’t think that worked out too well. The canary melon reminds me of a honeydew. I’m not too fond of those so it was no surprise I didn’t like the canary melon. Seems like Mr. D always has a lot of canary melons. Perhaps that’s called hope and patience, waiting for the customers to come around. It’s possible I’m mistaken and he sells more than I think he does. I’m not there every day to know for sure how it’s going.
When we drove down the lane to get to the farm market at Mr. D’s farm, we noticed they had used an herbicide to kill the crops in the fields. We’re talking fruit and vegetables grown for human consumption. Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and canary melon), tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and more. We talked with Mr. D for a while and he said he’s closing up the market next weekend, for good. He’s retiring from growing vegetables and fruit for humans. He’s going to convert to all feed (corn and soybeans). You might recall that the same thing happened with Hilgert’s farm when we living in NE Ohio. Mr. Hilgert decided he’d had enough and could make more money growing corn and soybeans.
Mr. D’s reasoning is similar, but on top of that are issues surrounding finding workers to pick the produce. He said he’s having trouble finding workers, and those he does find won’t work for less that $15/hr. Good for the workers. Not good for Mr. D because his most profitable crop is tomatoes. He sells them to a company that cans them (or provides them to a company that cans them; I’m not sure which one it is). The company (and other companies he deals with) won’t pay him enough to cover workers being paid $15/hr. Even the customers who buy from his market, in small amounts, complain about having to pay more. The most he can sell a box (about a 1/2 bushel, I think) of tomatoes for is $15 and people complain about the price. Nobody who buys in bulk will buy them for $20/box. (I would and have. I still think that’s outrageously cheap compared to what you pay for canned tomatoes at the grocery store.)
Another farm resource, gone. I’m wondering who is going to grow the food we eat? Somehow that has led me down a path of seeing how all of our current woes regarding growth, supply lines, societal collapse, racial issues, climate change, etc., are connected in ways we often don’t want to look at. We’re no different than the trees in the way they are connected to each other, to the earth, to the air, to all that lives in them and under them, to the soil, to the mycelium networks, to every single thing/life/being. It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that I’m not likely to see the fullness of the collapse we are currently living in. These things take time and I imagine lots of people will continue trying to prop up a system that no longer works, that has outgrown itself. It also seems to me that we need to learn how to adapt and change, to go back to some of the old ways of growing and providing locally. You can already see problems with those who rely on California for their food. Drought and fires may eventually make their role as the fruit and vegetable basket a thing of the past.
I’m thinking, too, of the way that science has discovered that you can’t just isolate one part of a food or herb, put it in a supplement, and expect it to work on its own. The nutritional or medicinal value is usually in its wholeness. When you eat a tomato, the lycopene, an antioxidant, is much more effective in providing health benefits than a lycopene supplement. The value is in its wholeness because it is in the wholeness that things work together. It’s a completion, something I think we need in ways we often don’t consider.
We need to find a way to do that with ourselves and the issues we are facing. Bring it all together in its wholeness because it is all connected. Climate change, racial justice, the food we eat (or don’t eat because of food deserts, which can be rural as well as urban), the illnesses we suffer, are all connected. Our way out of this mess is to come together as a whole, but also to learn how to live in local community. That, of course, is merely my opinion. I’m not in charge of the world or anything else, and there might be someone else out there with better ideas.
This world is of a single piece; yet, we invent nets to trap it for our inspection. Then we mistake our nets for the reality of the piece. In these nets we catch the fishes of the intellect but the sea of wholeness forever eludes our grasp. So, we forget our original intent and then mistake the nets for the sea.
Three of these nets we have named Nature, Mathematics, and Art. We conclude they are different because we call them by different names. Thus, they are apt to remain forever separated with nothing bonding them together. It is not the nets that are at fault but rather our misunderstanding of their function as nets. They do catch the fishes but never the sea, and it is the sea that we ultimately desire.
~ Martha Boles, Universal Patterns
In all this mess, I’m not ignoring the destruction of food that could have been given to those in need of it. How many food crops that could feed the hungry are destroyed, were destroyed, because it’s more profitable for the farmer to take the tax break or the subsidy? How many food crops that could feed the hungry are destroyed because there is no incentive or way for the farmer to move it from farm to table? Last year there was a farmer in Idaho who made the news because he started giving away the potatoes he’d grown rather than see them rot in the fields. Some Washington state farmers followed and did the same. The U.S. Department of Agriculture did try to address this issue by buying produce and giving it to food banks.
We need more of that. We also need more incentive for the farmers to do more of that rather than kill the plants and let the fruit/vegetables rot in the fields. A lot of food goes to waste in this country. According to Feeding America, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted each year, nearly 40% of all food produced/grown. (You can find more information at Feeding America.)
Time to put away my soapbox. Thank you so much for stopping by today for another meander. These sure are interesting time we’re living in, eh? To those who were/are in the path of Ida, stay safe.
Be well. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,856) The farmers who grow our food. 1,857) Fresh tomatoes from the garden. 1,858) Tomato sandwiches. 1,859) Air conditioning on hot days. 1,860) Vaccines, masks, and the common sense things that keep us safe and healthy.