September 7, 2012

Food is Dead


When Nietzsche wrote “God is dead”, he didn’t mean that if you polled people they wouldn’t avow belief in god, or that they don’t consciously think they believe in god when it occurs to them at all.
He meant that in people’s regular lives, their day-to-day actions, their day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute thoughts, god and religion play no role. God is no longer a significant part of the lives of people in general, as a guide to action or as a feature of our inner lives. Modern Westerners live as atheists, they think as atheists, so they actually are atheists. The fact that upon request they’ll consciously “believe in god”, like a dog salivating when it hears a bell, doesn’t change that fact.
We have the same decadent* phenomenon with food. Where does food comes from? Does it come from healthy soil and a stable farming culture, organic within a healthy ecology and socioeconomic environment? Or does it come from the supermarket? Most people, if specifically asked, would consciously agree that food comes from farms. But that’s not what people really think and do. In people’s regular lives, their day-to-day actions, their day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute thoughts, farms play no role. The possible existence (or extinction) of farms is no longer a significant part of the lives of people in general, as a guide to action or as a feature of their inner lives. People think and act as if food comes from the supermarket. The imminent lifting of New York’s fracking moratorium is a perfect example. Forget the committed fascists like Cuomo and Bloomberg – for people in general to have any doubt about fracking’s evil is to demonstrate their disbelief in farms and their compensatory faith in supermarkets.
We should see supermarkets as cult shrines. At the moment they do indeed seem to produce food (at least for those who can afford it and can physically get there). But to believe, in direct defiance of all the evidence of physical energy and the environment, that these totem plots will continue to bring forth food once the farms hidden behind them perish, is a nadir of pseudo-religious compensation for people’s lost connection with the Earth.
Cults have often called upon their believers to relinquish all their earthly possessions and gather passively awaiting the end. In this case, we’re to relinquish all human responsibility for our very food, its production and distribution, our human right to the land, our very presence on the land, and gather passively awaiting our next feeding.
But while the promised end never came for other cults, the promised bounty of the supermarket cult will indeed come to a brutal end. The common thread is the failure of the cult promise. This is because food does not in fact come from the supermarket, or from the car, or from wars for oil, or from government, or from the corporate form, or from “property”, or from any of the other things people try to psychologically and spiritually substitute for the farm. I fear that many will have to learn this the hard way, since for Western humanity at large, Food is Dead.
That’s why the Food Sovereignty movement must be, in all ways, a completely new beginning.    
[*This blog’s not about religious matters, so for now I won’t elaborate on what I mean by religious decadence. I’ll just say that part of the human condition is a spiritual and cultural life, which has to be an organic part of a human community. The mass functional atheism characteristic of modernity is inhuman. We see how desperately people strive to fill the void, with everything from consumerism to pseudo-religious ideology.]



  1. russ your comments reveal the patterns life has led us to use. Saftey is often confused with predictability as we feel if we can predict we can at least prepare for the worst. perhaps a new paradigm can be born through these thoughts that fear is the enemy not each other. and the sooner we learn to manage those fears the better off we will be.. good stuff russ thanks for the catalyst. it is time we forget about leadership as a concept as leadership is for those who can not think for themselves .. it now a time to mentor others to throw off the shackles and think for ourselves. there will always be a debate on a creator and how and if we should worship it. but those ideas are simply our faith in the unknowable.. they will always be there and they can be debated with no end in sight as they are an individuals right to perceive the patterns that make sense to them. So mo offense to those who do or do not believe. I will respect your right to those thoughts if you will return the favor.

    Kind Regards

    Dave Outlaw

    Comment by W David Outlaw — September 7, 2012 @ 8:13 am

    • You’re welcome Dave. I think educating and mentoring will be one of the main movement-building tasks for the foreseeable future, since as things are there’s nowhere near critical mass for any sudden change.

      It’s ironic, and a testament to the depravity of people once they’re dissolved into masses (the cause is the dissolution of human communities, not human nature itself, though of course the criminals tell the opposite lie), that they let their growing fear be manipulated into support for the very things which render them all the more vulnerable and imperiled. They’re right to feel fear, but instead of focusing it on what truly is to be feared and solving it, they let it be turned into free-floating “fear itself”, which is then astroturfed into supporting the very things which are destroying us.

      Comment by Russ — September 7, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  2. Russ, this is a really good post!
    In the first place, you cleared up my ignorance about that quote (blush). I thought it really described a belief that God had died, which to me seemed so silly I zoned out past that.
    But this is just such a clear, penetrating analysis of the situation with the modern view of food, water, even merchandise.

    I look forward to seeing more 🙂

    Comment by DualPersonality — September 7, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    • Thanks DP. The idea actually doesn’t even address whether or not the Judeo-Christian god exists (though N thought it doesn’t), but refers to the cultural and psychological fact that no belief in such a god exists as far as significantly influencing the way people think and act.

      Comment by Russ — September 7, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  3. Um, I am speaking out of total ignorance, but I thought that the current U.S. presidential campaign was evidence that some people at least stick the word “God” into their sentences, and seem to believe that they are believers…
    To me, that’s good enough to keep “God” in the running. The question of any objective existence of God is not one I am interested in, or think can be resolved to everyone’s ? anyone’s ? satisfaction at this time, if ever.
    It seems rather logical to me that more than 2000 years after that guy, Jesus, lived, and was himself using the word “God”, in 2012, that word has.. evolved ? changed meaning ? so that for his society, as for Nietzsche’s society ? and for our own, the meanings have never been, and will never be, identical.
    As for the question of whether any believer conforms his life to his beliefs, well, in 30 B.C., like in 2012, it has always been very difficult to conform one’s life to what one says one believes, and that is not ready to change either, in my opinion.
    I believe… that we have allotted very little value to food in our modern existences, because we have been privileging immaterial technology, and entertainment, and assigning IT value, among other reasons.
    Perhaps because we have been producing food in an industrial, BIG BIG BIG manner, and far away, we take it for granted, to use a trite figurative expression that is nevertheless appropriate ?
    When you think that during WW2, the Brits were seriously hampered by the German naval blocuses, and that they were HUNGRY because they did not practice food sovereignty/autarcy (dumb for islanders…), and that in 2012, food is once again produced in industrial mode, well, you can get pretty depressed… (I can, at least…) But maybe the Brits have achieved food sovereignty in industrial mode, these days ?…
    This summer I have been reading a book by Paul Veyne, called “Roman society”.
    Paul Veyne is a French egghead who gives fascinating insights, and reconstructions, about Roman society.
    SOME people may think that what the Romans were doing way far back has no… relation, or importance for us.
    Not me.
    One juicy little tidbit : Veyne argues that Roman society with its… trade, profits, rich, and poor, was nevertheless NOT capitalist.
    Among other things because Roman society, under the republic or empire, still associated wealth (and its aristocracy) with the land as ultimate security value.
    Of course, OWNING the land was pretty much the privilege of the aristocrats (but not just, the whole system was very complicated, and social mobility WAS possible.)
    WORKING the land ? The slaves did THAT…

    Comment by Debra — September 11, 2012 @ 4:39 am

    • When you think that during WW2, the Brits were seriously hampered by the German naval blocuses, and that they were HUNGRY because they did not practice food sovereignty/autarcy (dumb for islanders…), and that in 2012, food is once again produced in industrial mode, well, you can get pretty depressed

      See Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma for a discussion of how in 1943 the British had a parliamentary debate over what kind of agriculture to support, industrial or organic. With monumental irony given the circumstances, they chose to go all in on industrial, i.e. on rendering “this island” even more vulnerable, even more dependent and unresilient.

      (Pollan, characteristically, claims to be surprised about the timing of this debate, as if it were a secondary issue compared to the day-to-day fortunes of war.)

      But maybe the Brits have achieved food sovereignty in industrial mode, these days ?…

      Nope. On the contrary, the system is trying to force Britain into ever greater dependency on GMOs.



      food sovereignty in industrial mode

      A contradiction in terms. Food Sovereignty, by definition, means self-liberation from dependency on fossil fuels, before the inevitable collapse of industrial ag.

      Comment by Russ — September 11, 2012 @ 5:21 am

      • Sigh. It’s pretty hard to stay sane.. as an individual when the social body is INsane…
        The Brits probably chose to go all out on industrial mode because it allowed them to recycle their bombers as pesticide sprayers, and unload the DDT, or some other toxic cocktail (maybe an anachronism there…) on plants instead of people ? (When you got that newfangled technology… you just gotta find new, ingenious ways of using it, right ?? Otherwise, you’re going to LOSE FILTHY LUCRE, and what insane person wants to lose filthy lucre ?)
        Coming back from vacation on the airplane (mea magna culpa…) I sat next to a nice guy who shared many of my opinions until I discovered that he was a computer programmer, and I told him that the computer was one of our MAJOR problems at this time. When somebody tells you “the TOOL/technology is not the problem ; it’s neutral, it’s what you DO with it that is the problem”, well, in my book, discussion is over ; nobody is going to budge…
        He clammed up rather fast, but we remained polite…

        Comment by Debra — September 13, 2012 @ 8:50 am

      • Like Vandana Shiva says, we’re still eating the bombs of WW2.

        Comment by Russ — September 13, 2012 @ 10:27 am

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