Fund The Revolution: The Jig Is Up

»Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Blog, Books, Featured | 0 comments

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The people of the United States are controlled by middlemen—wealthy businessmen in the oil, food, pharmaceutical and media industries. These entities control our natural resources and basic necessities like food, energy and health. Additionally they exist as barriers between the people and the creators of food, medicine, technology, art and science.

These middlemen took control in the 1970s, when Earl Butz, President Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture who once said women had “low levels of economic intelligence” and was ultimately fired for making racist jokes, ushered in era of big farming. Butz literally told farmers to, “Get big or get out,” much to the benefit of several major agribusiness companies of which he was a board member. The promise was to subsidize big farms to produce “enough food to feed the world.”

An admirable goal, though it’s impossible to tell at this point whether this was merely propaganda, because the system they devised directly benefits a select few resource-controlling elites.Farming1950-2000

Small family farms used to be an American staple—especially in the South. People provided for themselves and were heavily invested in the community out of necessity and interdependence. From there, we birthed massive technological, economic and social wonders during and after the Industrial Revolution. But along the way, we lost that staple to big box stores and large scale agriculture, depleting the number of farms in Georgia from 230,000 in 1945 to less than 50,000 today.

This changed the United States from a country fed by small farmers to a country fed by a few big farmers. Big farmers depend on chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, to grow that food. We are dependent upon oil to receive food because it has to be shipped around the world.

The federal government plays a big role in this system, allowing it to continue because they regulate interstate commerce, including all the transactions that take place between the farmer, processor, distribution center and grocery stores. Congressmen get kickbacks from major donors of oil and pharmaceutical while getting free press from big media in exchange for perpetuating this system and granting subsidies.

Subsidies are a key part of the illusion because they fuel the myth that food at a grocery store is cheaper than locally grown, fresh produce. Food merely appears cheaper in the grocer because tax money comes out of paychecks and goes straight to oil companies and big farms to ensure the process goes smoothly. The cost on the shelf does not reflect the money we’ve already paid.

Our welfare system enraptures the entire cycle. Taxpayers pay the system, shipping unhealthy food across the nation using environmentally unfriendly transportation. This process is hurting the environment and the people, many of whom will then require Medicare or Medicaid, paid for by the people.

Despite the fact that the first thing all doctors learn is the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath, Let food be thy medicine, pills are often the first choice when it comes to healing. Fresh, organic food is healthier for soaking up more of the earth’s minerals and doesn’t lose nutritional value during the 1,500 mile journey our veggies take to get to a grocery store. Buying locally means your money isn’t lost at several points along the way until pennies trickle back to the farmer, keeping more money in your tax pool to improve services.

These trends and connections are rarely reported by mainstream media, in part because it would be bad for the business of their advertisers, and therefore their existence on the air at all. Instead they fill the time with distractions, flawed opinions and rarely allow the conversation to advance beyond a surface level.

The people must break this cycle.

Over the last 14 months, I interviewed farmers, chefs, professors, scientists, journalists, politicians and entrepreneurs within 100 miles of Atlanta about the local food movement, sustainability and what a world in which communities provided their own food and energy might look like in the digital era. In short, the social structure would be vastly different, meeting the needs of the people on the ground level.

The current system of food creates vast wealth inequality, hurts the environment and weakens our overall health. The people have the power to change this dynamic. This message is one way how, and will hopefully inspire others to see things differently.

The world has already changed—we simply hope to enlighten the people and begin living in the reality at our fingertips instead of the illusion presented to us by the government, big corporations and mainstream media to hold us back.

Here is the link to my IndieGoGo campaign to fund the book, music and accompanying documentary. Artists and editors from across the United States came together to help get this ready for September. Now all we need is the funding to show you what we’ve discovered.

It’s time to Fund the Revolution. The Jig Is Up

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VIDEO: Truly Living Well in Atlanta

»Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Rashid Nuri was one of the first people I spoke to in preparing to write the book about the sustainable revolution.

Nuri is the founder of Truly Living Well that owns 10 plots around the city of Atlanta, all dedicated to gardening.

Some plots are small, others are large enough to sustain a market. TLW provides CSAs for local neighborhoods as well as educational opportunities for kids.

TLW also offers a degree in urban agriculture for adults.

It’s all a part of Nuri’s vision. He believes our salvation is in the soil, that Atlanta is poised to grow new cities, new economies and new ways of life.

You will get to meet Nuri in the book as well as the documentary associated with this movement, but his 2013 TED Talk is very inspirational and paints a beautiful picture of the future. Take a listen and see what you think.

 

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Gardening Eliminates Corruption

»Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

This is an excerpt from my series on local farming and sustainability for NorthFulton.com. Several paragraphs and quotes from these columns are taken directly from the book The Jig Is Up, coming this Fall.

For the next generation to create a separation between the people on Main Street and the people on Wall Street — or for that matter, Capitol Hill – we need to grow more of our own food locally alongside an independent, sustainable energy system. Without bureaucracy, corporate subsidies and an inefficient welfare system, we can be free to make genuine choices and have a positive impact on our community.

It won’t just appear — it will take years to grow. But we must start somewhere.

Any garden is a great place to start, because it immediately removes you from the big government, big oil arrangement to ship subpar food thousands of miles across the country and the world.

This arrangement leads to big money for big business. That business corrupts our political system, as companies spend part of their excess profits buying congressmen or hiring them as lobbyists when they lose an election.

More than half of our of so-called representatives in Congress are millionaires, and 50 percent go on to take lobbying jobs that pay an average of 1,456 percent better than public service compared to just 3 percent of politicians who became lobbyists in 1974.

This arrangement, along with armies of lobbyists, paves the way for massive tax breaks for big oil and big farmers, hidden costs behind our decision to buy from chain grocers or to eat fast food, making food appear cheaper on the shelves because the money has already been taken out of our paychecks.

To continue reading, please visit NorthFulton.com.

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Amana Academy Gets Hands-On With Gardening

»Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

This is an excerpt from my series on local farming and sustainability for NorthFulton.com. Several paragraphs and quotes from these columns are taken directly from the book The Jig Is Up, coming this Fall. 

Students at Amana Academy get to know their food.

The future of the sustainable revolution isn’t really up to us. At worst, we can get in the way and try to slow down the momentum. At best, we can help put the next generation in a position to thrive.

This process is taking place in schools throughout North Fulton.

Amana Academy – a relatively new charter school, which occupies a former grocery store – is one of the schools taking their own measures to improve the viability of the farm-to-school movement.

Amana doesn’t have the resources of a private school, nor do they have the power of associating with public school funding.

Though they still have to follow the guidelines set out by city and state governments, Amana is often squeezed into a place where they have to get creative in order make strides toward their goal of providing fresh, local food for their students – a goal established in the early planning stages of the school itself.

“There’s just a lot of red tape that you have to go through,” said Ehab Jaleel, executive director at Amana Academy. “They don’t make it easy. From a pricing perspective, there’s limits as to how much we can charge for certain things, and as a charter school, we’re not a big bulk buyer, so we’re kind of being squeezed into a place that makes it difficult to do what we want to do.”

This difficulty became a source of frustration for institutional advancement specialist and leader of the Gardening Club Niki Fox. One day, she wanted to improve the frontage of the school with useful plants.

“Niki came up to me and said, ‘We’ve got a bunch of bushes in the front yard, can we just get rid of them all?’” Jaleel said. “Because I want to use that as a starting point for the garden.”

Shortly after, she did exactly that as a part of Amana’s farm-to-school expedition program. In this program, students visit local farms, discuss where their food comes from and study the entire food process.

This year, the process had even deeper meaning for the students.

“This year, they were actually able to plant it, grow it, harvest it, make salads and eat them, and really see that process from seed to table,” said Fox. “It was really powerful for them to see what they did and watch it grow, to understand how much work goes into that. To actually get to eat the fruits of their labor was really rewarding.”

They also hope to open the eyes of a few parents, too. The garden is right in front of the building, immediately in front of the drop-off and pick-up zone. Jaleel, a former marketing executive at Coke, likened it to certain types of marketing that break through norms and capture people’s attention for the sheer fact that isn’t not supposed to be there.

“When [parents] see it, that’s when they become engaged,” said Jaleel. “When I see it on television, I see it at Wills Park, but here, it’s interrupting you. It’s right there. You have to force people to see it in unexpected areas.”

To continue reading, visit NorthFulton.com.

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Stop Giving Your Money To Billionaires

»Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Wealth inequality managed to get some attention from the mainstream media shortly before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. Since then, we’ve had non-stop coverage of the invasion, a missing plane, the terrorists taking over Syria and Iraq (though little mention of the fact that the situation is almost entirely the fault of the US military-industrial complex), and, of course, where LeBron James will play basketball next season.

Despite all the coverage, we still have almost no clue what happened to the plane, what will happen in Ukraine, Syria or Iraq, and even less about where LeBron will take his talents. It’s all a rouse designed to keep the people distracted from things like wealth inequality, something we actually know quite a bit about and know how to fix it.

The chart below shows how just ten multi-national corporations control almost every processed food item we purchase–meaning any time you buy any of these products, one of ten corporations takes a cut. Throw in the fact that these ten companies put 263.7 million tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere just to ship all that food, and you realize that oilmen get a cut of every purchase we make.

As we complain about wealth inequality, we give our money to the resource-controlling elite every time we go to a grocery store.

We give our money to the resource-controlling elite every time we go to a grocery store. (Click to enlarge)

 

We must stop shopping at grocery stores because it hurts our environment, weakens our democracy by allowing the resource-controlling elite greater financial sway over our politicians and is worse for our health.

Instead we must shop at farmer’s markets and create neighborhood CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). CSAs provide healthy food, create local jobs and minimize our carbon footprint. The money you spend stays in your community and tax pool instead of funding some warehouse in China. There aren’t any middlemen taking a cut, any chemical companies profiting from the spraying of your food, any oilmen raking in money money from shipping it across the globe.

Just people helping people live happier, healthier lives.

Why else are we here?

If you’d like to know a bit more about the benefits of CSAs, check out this link.

And as always, let ‘em know The Jig Is Up.

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How a Roswell farmer gives genocide survivors hope

»Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

This is an excerpt from my series on local farming and sustainability for NorthFulton.com. Several paragraphs from these columns are taken directly from the book The Jig Is Up, coming this Fall.

Sarah Buchanan greets families of Rwandan farmers during a recent trip

 

I first met Sarah Buchanan at Table & Main’s garden in Roswell in the fall of 2013.

A friend of mine put me in touch, as Buchanan founded a nonprofit organization in 2012 called “The Kula Project.”

Their goal is to eliminate poverty by giving one billion farmers the tools to make it happen, largely through donations and fundraisers, like their annual #forthefarmer campaign that takes place on Aug. 14.

Kula means “to eat” in Swahili and “community” in Sanskrit, and the Kula Project aims to help farmers in Africa support themselves, their families and their communities.

One of their earliest projects brought drip-tank technology to an orphanage in Kenya which enabled them to harvest every 21 days.

Before, the farmers were using seeds that were seven years old, but with their new methods, the orphanage was able to feed all of their children for the very first time — and even made $400 at a local market.

Their latest project will help genocide survivors in Rwanda grow coffee beans and bananas, which will double their income for the next thirty years.

To continue reading, please visit NorthFulton.com.

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