Hey you! Yeah, you – the 22 year old barista with the excessive facial hair and the Che Guevara tee-shirt, riding around Portland on your Marin Point Reyes, wondering if you can make it to both rallies for raw milk that are happening tonight and still get your winter cabbage starts planted in your Urban Homestead – I’m talking to you!
And you – the rural redneck with the United States Constitution pinned to the underside of your driver’s side sun-visor and the Gadsden Flag flying in the back window of your 1979 Ford F350, hauling a tiller home to expand your Victory Garden and wondering which one of your liberties the Feds have fucked over today – I’m talking to you, too.
You two don’t like each other very much. You don’t hang in the same circles and you sure as hell don’t vote for the same people. Hipster bike dude, you think pickup truck guy is a narrow-minded Tea Party bigot. Pickup Truck, you think Hipster Bike is a punk who wants to take money from people who actually work and give it to shiftless parasites. You’re also kinda worried he’s gay.
Well, get over it! Both of you, just get over it. You both know something’s not quite right and you’re both responding by growing your own. You are both trying to secure a little more independence for yourself through working the good earth. You both think that maybe, just maybe, really big problems can be fixed by ordinary people doing things differently. You are both pretty sure Big Somebody (Big Ag, Big Government, Big Business) is the right hand of Satan, and you are both really tired of various organizations telling you what you can do with your own property and what foods you can buy.
Guess what, guys – are you both ready for this? – you are on the same side.
I’m not saying you need to invite each other over for Thanksgiving (though it would be a nice gesture, think of all the homegrown yumminess) but let’s start with a little civility and the acknowledgement that when it comes to food sovereignty issues, we all need to hang together.
Left coast urban homesteaders types – not everyone who leans to the political right is a racist, or is a pawn for corporate America, or is going to shoot you on sight. Conservative survivalists types – there is nothing wrong with education or book learnin’, the hipsters in the cities are probably correct on the earth science issues, and none of them are checking out your ass.
So get over this Bill O’Reilly v. Rachel Maddow shit right now, because if you do care about your ability to purchase traditional foodstuffs without fear of arrest, or grow the food you choose on your own property, and if you want those rights preserved, you’re going to have to fight.
The trend is clear on this: the United States food supply is controlled by a handful of very large corporations. Their narrative – that large scale, industrial growing and processing of a few highly subsidized, genetically-modified commodity crops is the only way to feed people – has serious political play. It is a story that is written in billion-dollar ink, and the splatters and dribblings of that ink keep policy makers frozen to healthier, cheaper, fairer alternatives.
If we want to write a new narrative, we are going to need all hands on deck. We need everyone: hipsters, rednecks, foodies, socialists and libertarians. We need rice-hoarding survivalists and chef-advocates. We need small farmers who are tired of competing against below-market-price corn and food writers who won’t shut up about grass fed beef.
We need urban farmers and off-the-grid, honest-to-goodness rural homesteaders. We need people who grow right and people who buy right. We need YuppieHippies and we’ll even take Urban Homesteader Assholes if we have to. We need big-tent, open-door policies and cooperation, not factionalized squabbling and impotent raging over trivialities.
We need you, Che tee-shirt dude, and we need you, Ford pick-up truck guy. We need you both, because we have two choices on this: we hang together or we all hang separately.