(baca versi bahasa Indonesia di sini)
Dear Indonesian youths of today,
Planting your own food is an act of rebellion. Do you like the sound of that? You want me to convince you? Allow me to.
At some point in a hypothetical but highly plausible future history, your government thinks that anyone who plants their own food, creates their own productive garden, is a rebel. The argument starts with the fact that everyone needs to eat. Huge, transnational, multinational, multi-trillion businesses have been built around this need. How much would mass food producers, importers, and exporters lose if people were no longer dependent on them? Government officials who have been backing the system or even become big players in this industry would lose a lot too. And think about all the dangerous pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides that all the gardeners would NOT be using in the gardens. How much, again, do you think the producers, importers, exporters — all of the big players — of these products lose? Same case with heirloom seed. Save them, share them, trade them among your gardening community. See what would happen.
With everyone sitting nicely and eating whatever they could get, there’s a stability that your government wishes to maintain in order to gain more power. It is highly possible that your government and those industry people do not care that your food is slowly poisoning you — your liver, your heart, your blood, your reproductive system (which, by the way, means the future generations of your family). So why not shake that stability by eating healthy food that you grow on your own? It will be worth it. Ours is a no-good government, anyway. Aren’t you sick of the news about all those corruption cases? Imported cows, anyone? Soy beans missing from the market? Prices of chili, onion, and garlic rising three- to five-fold? Rain forests disappearing to make way for palm oil plantations? Imported salt for a country with the world’s second longest coastline? Are we really facing a food security threat? We sure are if we only rely on our government. In this hypothetical but very plausible future, the greedy officials in your government would issue policies that benefited them and their friends in the chemical and bio-genetic fields. We must fight this, for sure. Demonstrating on the streets and joining forces with the other rebels are cool and often necessary. But why not do those things while taking care of your well-being by planting your own food, even though that would be against the law? Better yet, ask your friends to join you, or help them create their own productive gardens, or get together and make a community food garden or forest.
Also, inform those around you that what they’re buying from the markets may be unsafe. You see, in the past, the sellers in your nearest traditional markets offered what they had grown on their own. And you didn’t need to ask how the produce had been cultivated because they had never heard of or used those pesticide brands. As for fertilizing the soil, they used manure. They let the trees in the food forests mulch the soil to keep the productive shrubs fed and the weed in check. In short, they used wise techniques for growing, maintaining, and harvesting different plants, or they simply went to the forest to harvest what you needed. It was all good. You know this from how sweet the fruits tasted, and how delicious the rice, corn, and tubers were, compared to what you usually eat nowadays. And if you ask your grandparents, or anyone old in your family, they would tell you that productive plants in the past had a lot more varieties. There were hundreds of species of rice, corn, potato, and bean, to mention some examples. Do the sellers in the markets today see this? Most of them don’t. We need to tell them that they need to find out where the produce they’re selling came from. It is also important to inform the farmers that they need to return to the old ways. For the sake of the people consuming their produce. For the sake of the earth. Or simply for the sake of not having to worry whether the chemical residue in your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any meals in between might give you cancer.
For at least forty years now, big chemical and bio-genetic corporations have been working hand in hand with your government to tell farmers to meddle with their crops — your food — by using the chemicals that they produce and the seed that they have genetically modified. The objective was for the farmers — and, in turn, us — to become dependent on them. With their chemical products and seed, the crops may be abundant, but the plants may not be genetically resistant to certain things like pests or weather. That’s good for business, because then come various chemical brands for the plants to be strong. After several successful harvests, the crops’ seed get weaker and weaker, making them unfit for replanting. That’s good for business too, because the farmers will then need to buy new seed. Plus, the law forbids us from replanting genetically modified seed, anyway, as there is a patent for each genetic alteration. All the chemicals have ruined your soil? Here come even more chemicals plus some brand-spanking new machinery. Still using hay and manure to fertilize your rice paddies, or cows to till your land? They would say that it’s old-fashioned, or even lie by saying that it’s counter-productive. It’s a lie because it’s the chemicals and machinery with heavy bodies and wheels that can make the soil compact and arid in the long run.
Dear friends, I know that you’re dying to see peace and justice in this world. So please know that injustice has found ways to prevail through our basic need for food. Unless we get together to change the way we live, namely by returning to how nature is meant to nurture us, then you and I have lost the fight before it even begins. And I know you don’t like losing without a good fight. Do you?