Food For Thought, while still an ongoing project, is the best expression of my experiences in life and my desire to turn those experiences into a model for others. I can’t take credit for anything we do here since I’ve had the model of many others to follow and a talented staff that serve as our creative idea bank.
My driving experiences came from many years of human relief work in the war torn regions of Central America in the 1980s. The watershed moment for me arrived hitchhiking through El Salvador. While wandering a remote mountain road a soldier appeared out of the bushes and stuck an M-16 in my belly and demanded money. This moment was not an epiphany for me but rather the culmination of all my experiences combined. I saw too much suffering and death over the struggle for land and means to make a living in this small part of the world. I felt much more pity for this soldier than fear. He was simply a victim of the same global industrial food economy that paid for his American made uniform, gun and military training. He was only struggling to meet his immediate need to satisfy his apparent addiction to alcohol in what I could imagine was his effort to escape his reality…a reality whereby his leaders convinced him that peasant farmers struggling for land rights were the enemy, “Comunistas” in his language*. I realized at that moment that he was perhaps as much a victim of the globalization as the thousands who have lost their lives at the hands of those who share his uniform. While the awareness had been growing, I knew then that I could not return home and simply be another naïve member of the mass consumer market in the West that wallows in an indulgence of anonymous consumption, blind to the connection between how we choose to eat and others ability to simply live.
There will always be more to do. Sustainability, after all, is a journey, not a destination. We’re always looking to find ways to decrease our energy consumption, farm beyond organic, create fair trade with our next door neighbors, create more meaningful lives for our dedicated staff and all whose lives our company touches. We stumble, debate, work hard, learn from our experiences and accept our limitations. It’s a lot to put into a jar.
Timothy Fitzgerald Young
* In reality the soldier was indigenous therefore “Comunista” was not his language, but that of the first wave of Spanish colonizers. And since the word is a more contemporary construct of western political history, “Communist” would be the word for his current neo-colonial ruler. His native Mayan language likely does not have an equivalent word as his society was inherently “communal.”