Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

It's the day before Christmas. My little town is moving -- all over -- people in cars, on foot, in stores, on streets, everywhere. I'm not there. I'm in a quiet space listening to poetry, Hafiz and Rumi. I wondered how many people in how many countries celebrate Christmas. I asked Jeeves but there were too many answers and I decided I didn't need to know. I get on the pensive side when confronted with serious consumerism. And that's what Christmas has been to me for some time -- food for thought.

Bob Muth admins a local mailing list. He writes well with passion and steadfastness and includes peace writings and related information. Two nights ago he passed on one of Mary Oliver's poems titled "Wage Peace." I quite often save the posts and tuck them away in my electronic library. Three phrases of her poem are part of the impetus of my life's current activities:
  • Remember your tools
  • Don't wait another minute
  • Wage peace
May we all take these words and words like them, find them in our lives, practice them in our hearts and wage peace there. There is no time like today.
Mary Oliver

Wage peace.
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
Breath out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
Imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.
Wage Peace.

Peace be with you all, family, friends, neighbors.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The True Cost of Food

We had a good turn out on Sunday afternoon for the Sierra Club film animation "The True Cost of Food." Some questions came up; some were answered.

In question was the veracity of the "real" cost of food (steak and tomatoes) for instance. They can't be real with just simple calculations. Are expenses already built in to the cost of salable items? I plan to write to the Sierra Club and ask them a few questions.

It was a vibrant group with a good representation of ages and therefore, experiences. The aspect of eating local food has not always been a question. Not too long ago we could go into a grocery store and actually identify local products -- we maybe knew the growers or producers, and maybe even at one time had taken a field trip to their farm as a school activity.

Where's the money? The difficulty of the finances of raising a family and the issue of affordability of good food was discussed. Why are locally grown products more expensive? They don't have to travel so far, if the product is organic, expensive herb/pesticides are not used.

Do local growers know how much it costs them to produce a head of lettuce? It seems to be a basic business question -- I would really like to hear the answer.

What about government subsidies? We looked to see what the USDA-Montana Ag Stats book (p14, Economic section) had to say on the subject. This is the quote:
A comparison of selected Montana industries shows agriculture continues to outpace other industry sectors by $801 million. Crop cash receipts for 2004 increased to $961 million, up $162 million or 20 percent higher than 2003. Livestock cash receipts increased in 2004 to $1.3 billion, an increase of $169 million from 2003. Government payments decreased 21 percent in 2004 to $282 million, down from $356 million in 2003.
Government payments -- what type -- Federal, State, how much of each and how applied. More questions!

And where is the money?

More later...........