I'll forebear relating my own observations in Mexico because they simply
underline what Ignacio says so well. Until personal and community health and
well being, which require access to land on a family by family basis, become
more important than cash to buy into goods produced from outside the
bioregion, these problems remain unsolved. As an outsider, I feel that
solutions need to come from the people affected and that if they need my
help, they'll invite me to give it. With NAFTA, I'm afraid that things will
get a whole lot worse in Mexico, in particular, before they get better. At
the moment, international trade, as free as we can get it, is a way for less
than 5% of the worlds population to consume more than half of the world's
resources. In other words, almost 10 percent can live this wasteful
lifestyle before everyone else on the planet must cease to exist entirely.
Focus on one crop, like coffee, is useful as an eye opener, if you'll pardon
the figure. However the only way for the English-speaking (and to some
extent French-speaking) North American population to get off the backs fo the
rest of the world is to become more self reliant and less wasteful across the
board, in terms of everything we consume. This means that we need to look to
our own environment as our first responsibility and keep our hands off the
environment in other countries. Of course, buying organic coffee and other
products we can't produce and are too addicted to give up helps, particularly
if we buy from socially responsible cooperatives, etc., that funnel profits
back to campesinos.
Our most destructive export is the myth of the American dream, that everybody
can live like Hollywood portrayals of Beverly Hills. Aside from the very
high rates of suicide, acoholism, and other addictions in such areas
indicating unhappiness, it just isn't possible. If we can transform our own
society, by living the example of a sane and healthy lifestyle, maybe the lie
of unlimited affluence will fall away.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and The Forest Ecosystem
Food Network. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway. YankeePerm@aol.com or
We don't have time to rush.