Everything we eat is from a place which was once wilderness

The Guardian has recently reported on destruction of forest in the Ivory Coast for growing chocolate: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/13/chocolate-industry-drives-rainforest-disaster-in-ivory-coast

It is horrifying and but we should not be surprised, self-righteous or indignant: everything we eat is from a place which was once wilderness.

Each time we eat a banana, an avocado, some chocolate, have a cup of tea or coffee, we are consuming something from a place which was once forest in a hot country. And every time we eat a potato, a carrot, a slice of bread, we are eating something from a place which was once forest in a less hot country. If not forest, then swamp or savannah.

Each time we eat a little bit more, we are contributing to the destruction of wilderness – since surely the responsibility must be shared on a per capita basis; blaming the marginal arrival would imply an intolerable burden of guilt for the young.

I imagined a slave who is beaten every day. His back is a map of the world. Most of it is now formed of hardened scars, and tough leathery skin. There are weals where recent punishments are starting to heal – long purple sores marking the trajectory of the whip. And then simple bleeding, raw gashes from yesterday’s beating.

Such is the surface of the world: the scars are our conventional farms, with tough, drying soil. The bleeding wounds are where we are now turning wilderness into farmland.

Through caring, wildlife- and bird-friendly farming can we give ourselves food and at the same time go some way to restoring the land. But first, we just need to eat and drink less.


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