Saved by Food
Before I flipped open the first crisp page of Ben Hewitt’s (2009) book The Town that Food Saved, I had to ponder the very message within the title: the idea that a resource that already floods the markets of America could actually rescue an entire establishment of people and structures. Whisperings of grace may be recited at each meal but more often than not, the receiver of gratitude is a spiritual being instead of the fibrous plant subject to ingestion. What a natural occurrence, then, that a substance needed by the human body to survive, could also resurrect and sustain a created human community. Much research and publications have provided energy to the argument that humans need to change farming in order to continue the practice, but little has been written about the inverse relationship. Why is it so difficult to let nature provide?
The food-based companies, sustainable agricultural establishments, and devotion to locally produced, locally staffed, and locally owned businesses resulted in positive gains for Hardwick. As Hewitt clarifies,
[Hardwick]…has embarked on a quest to create the most comprehensive, functional, and downright vibrant local food system in North America…[the town] just might prove what advocates of a decentralized food system have been saying for years: that a healthy agriculture system can be the basis of communal strength, economic vitality, food security, and general resilience in uncertain times (p. 2).
He goes on to explain how milk prices have dropped since grain prices have soared and government subsidies have created uneven demand for specific products. As America has increased emphasis on high production, low prices, processed, industrialized, and monopolized food supplies, the amount of travel and the amount of altering foods endure has also amplified. The goal of Hardwick was to create a town that can rely upon its own production and own residents as workers, thus providing jobs while simultaneously growing healthier whole, real foods. The town is one of many small towns within Vermont, harboring roughly 3,500 people. Yet, regardless of the small population (in comparison to most towns or cities, for that matter) the progressive community model can be applied to several other towns throughout the USA. “At its core, agriculture is a human manipulation of a natural process. Is there a version of agriculture that is truly sustainable? Probably so. Is there a version of agriculture that is truly sustainable and able to fee 7 billion people? Almost certainly not” (Hewitt, 2009, p. 13). But there are ways to improve our current practices to ensure a lower impact and a greater emphasis on the health of the planet, livestock, and humanity.
I must pause- what does this have to do with my art? Or how can I use this to create art? This (what a vague term: this- as in the reality of farming, the stories of the people, the changing landscape, the history behind tall trees and the future ahead of each budding sprout, the vitality of life, and the healthy forces within each growing being) is what informs my art. Those subjects, or “things” (to be vague again), are what inspire me to create because I am giving voice, I am searching for a healing, I am reflecting, and I am emitting emotion. Rather than continue my above essay format, I wanted to create a word list. In flipping to random pages I selected one word without thought and combined the word with the next randomly picked word to form the poem below:
What am I Trying to Save in my Art?
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