The Many Wonders of Plants, an article written for The Center For Ecoliteracy:
A young child, seated in a grocery cart as it moves down aisle after dazzling aisle, would find it daunting to connect the colorful packages she sees with anything in the natural world; and so would her parents! The products that turn up on supermarket shelves seem to have been constructed not from plants, but from “ingredients” that have themselves been manufactured somewhere “out there.” To trace the origins of Froot Loops that have no fruits, and chocolate creme pies that have neither cream nor chocolate would defy most adults. For most children, as we know, to imagine back from the supermarket to the real source of foods is all but impossible. This is not an accident. The manufacturers of the products filling the shelves profit most from foods with the least obvious relationship to the Earth.
Farm Aid: A Song for America
It’s so encouraging to watch the breakdown of agricultural ignorance in communities across the country, as increasing numbers of eaters realize how unhappy they are with the things to eat that agribusiness has brought them… …so while there continues to be pain and grief and loss on farmlands across the nation, there is also hope and determination to make a different system, one where vibrant local economies are based on thriving family farms, small-scale business enterprises, and markets featuring fresh local food year-round–economies that will make farming once again a desirable lifestyle, so that handing down the farm to one’s children will no longer seem like a punishment but a privilege. If we level the playing field for producers by taking away the policies that support the present industrial food system–cheap fuel and water, public funding of high-tech agricultural research, massive public investments in infrastructure (including overbuilt highways to handle giant truckloads of traveling food)–we can invest the money saved in a food system that conserves soil, water, air, and human resources, and produces reasonably priced food.
Eating Responsibly, a keynote speech given by Joan on the eve of the invasion of Iraq:
I think the deepest, most pervasive problem humanity has in dealing with the earth-in recognizing the earth as something to be dealt with-is the degree to which our technological inventions have progressively seduced what is now a large proportion of the human race into a conviction that we can, on the whole, discount the natural world. Indeed, technology has seduced some of my academic colleagues into the belief that nothing is really “unnatural” and that science and technology have got most things pretty well under control-which, they would see as a good thing. Too many of us are, in our arrogant naiveté rather like the stockbroker looking out the window of her 64th floor Manhattan office and experiencing an exhilarating sense of freedom at the sight of New York City at her feet. In reality, she is utterly unfree, tied to an umbilical cord of air-conditioning, heating, and lighting, to the pumps that draw water up from the street level to provide pressure in her private kitchen and bathroom, to the reliability of the elevators that allow her to arrive in her office ready for work, instead of winded from 64 flights of stairs. Accustomed as she is to ignoring the massive inputs of fossil energy that once thrust into the air the tower that surrounds her, and the further massive inputs that are expended daily to keep her world functioning, she imagines she is self-reliant.