My thoughts about land and my connection to it has changed drastically during the duration of this class because, at the beginning of the course. My first blog entry focused primarily on my flower farm in Virginia and how my family and our employees work with the land and the importance of our impact upon the soil, water dispersal, etc. Throughout the course, our understanding of the importance of keeping our environment safe from toxins and harmful environmental threats has turned into a global movement to free us of threats to our own health. My first blog entry discussed my connection with the earth and how our farm works with nature to create beautiful flowers for my mom to use for her florist business. Our farm steers away from harmful toxins, and we instead turn to our land’s natural cycle to produce flowers. Although we avoid using toxins for the growth of our flowers, we have no background understanding as to why we shouldn’t use these chemicals except for the sole reason of understanding that these toxins in some way impact our health. This may be part of the pitfall of humanity and our struggle to understand our impact on our environment – we think that our land is so stable because we see the vastness of the mountains and the great power of weather, but what we fail to understand is that nature is fragile with the impact of what we place upon the earth. We think that dumping small amounts of trash or toxins from our waste will not do any harm, but what we do not understand is that, although these impacts are small, they still accumulate into larger scale problems through time.
In our readings, we have covered the impact of what we have put in our own environment and how it has affected our health with Steingraber’s memoir of her struggle with cancer. This reading was especially interesting because the focus wasn’t completely on how she, herself, struggled with health issues but she brought in case studies for the reader to understand that we globally struggle with the environment and what we put into it. Steingraber’s overall message was for us to wake up and smell the toxin-ridden flowers that we have created for ourselves. This was also the case with Vandana Shiva’s “Soil Not Oil”.
We must change the way we utilize our land before we have any hope for changing the way we live and breath and experience the health benefits of a clean environment.
In Shiva’s book, she breaks down the three main conditions from which we suffer from in our society: the food crisis, climate crisis, and the energy crisis. Understanding these effects on our communities on a local level helps us to understand where we can resolve these issues. In the book, Shiva makes all of these crises connect by explaining that where there are pitfalls with one crisis, the effect takes a toll on the remaining 2. I went in search of finding examples of these connections and was enlightened when I read up on an issue that was happening in my own backyard. In my rural community, we rely heavily upon chickens and other fowl for eggs, meat, and fertilizer for our plants. Thus, it was no wonder when one news headline caught my attention:
MARYLAND SET TO BECOME FIRST STATE TO BAN ARSENIC IN CHICKEN FEED
My initial reaction was: WHAT?! ARSENIC?! in CHICKENS THAT WE EAT? DISGUSTING.
And upon reading the article I was shocked that some of the largest food corporations in America, such as Perdue and McDonald’s have had histories of using arsenic-based chicken feed for their chickens. How gross is that? PLUS, not only has it affected those who consumed the chicken, but the arsenic has seeped into the environment in high volumes because of the waste from the chickens and the fertilizer we use in our communities to feed our plants, which we also consume. Thus, it directly relates back to Shiva’s understanding of the connection we have with our environment and how one pitfall of our decisions with the environment, could lead into bigger problems in the long run.
In conclusion, I think that one of the main points I have taken away from our readings and discussions about our environmental impacts have lead me to believe that we have this ability to change our environment if we adopt the open minds of scientists that want to change the way we live our lives. However, it is impossible with the lack of funds and our dependency upon products and additives (such as arsenic with chickens) that allow us to make more money and allow us to progress substantially on the financial end of the spectrum.