Activist-scientist Vandana Shiva is known internationally for confronting the economic, social, and environmental dysfunction of our industrial food system. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandana_Shiva (Links to an external site.)) In “Food System Transformation and the Climate Crisis,” Shiva speaks with a large group of Vermont citizens in 2014. The Vermont food movement had just won a political battle requiring food producers to label all food products sold in stores to indicate whether they are GMO free or not: that is, free of genetic modification and unaltered by adding the DNA of another organism or species.
She asks a core strategic question: Will we continue to cultivate most agricultural lands with corn, soya, and other environmentally dangerous commodity products (that provide us with only 30% of our food), or will we grow nutrient rich food closer to home using agro-ecological methods that diversify the food supply and restore soil health and bio-diversity?
Note: The top ten commodities in dollar value are rice, dairy, beef, pork, poultry, wheat, soybeans, tomatoes, sugar cane, and maize. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_valuable_crops_and_livestock_products (Links to an external site.))
As you listen to Shiva, take note of her description of modern day enclosure, the commodification of life, and the erosion of democracy. Keep a list of the strategies and tactics used to attack her and other critics of the industrial food system. Finally, examine her views on the relationship between grass roots organizing, the role of the state and the potential for food systems change.