Andy got me thinking about green beans for this morning. All morning round Belfast in fact. I was haunted by the bean.
“Buying local – there’s another complex one. If we stop buying food from the developing world, we help the planet in terms of global warming and other issues around that. And possibly cause tens or hundreds of millions of people to starve….”
I have thought about this before because to say that we shouldn’t buy green beans from poor farmers in Africa or other countries seems like a selfish thing to do.
We should buy their green beans and help them earn their way out of grinding poverty in a fair and dignified way.
Sure its better for the environment to fly in green beans from Kenya (where people have very low carbon footprints) than to buy them locally from a farmer who drives round his farm in a big diesel tractor, throwing fertiliser and pesticides round the place.
This all seem very logical and the Christian thing to do (almost Fairtrade) and I had almost swayed to thinking that way myself but…… then I’ve swayed back round again to thinking that it is best not to…until somebody here maybe shouts and me and I change my mind and agree with them.
I think the main problem I can see is that we’re using Kenyan water and Kenyan soil to grow crops that we don’t really need so that some supermarkets can make more money.
Maybe that is a bit simplistic but who decided that it would be a good idea to fly green beans into the UK & Ireland in winter?
Did the supermarkets decide to start buying green beans because it wanted to help Kenyans out of poverty or because they could grow green beans for next to nothing then make some profit?
I watched this clip on Youtube with the man from the BBC who does the news.
In it he said that in a country where less than 20% of the land is suitable for growing food and in the middle of a food crisis (partly caused by drought) affecting millions of people and which the Kenya government has declared a national disaster Kenya is exporting green beans over to the UK.
Then he goes to farm which employs 550 people which is watered by expensive irrigation systems watering our vegetables, run by a British farmer and supplying our major supermarkets.
Then to compound matters, the farmer explains how often the green beans which he does grow have to be rejected by the supermarket because they are not straight enough or perhaps a bit of soil splashes up from the rain and make it dirty and the public doesn’t want to eat beans that are not straight or dirty.
Then the rejected crops are fed to cattle
The nice man from the BBC then asks the farmer why don’t they use the land for growing food for the millions of people who are starving ?
And the British farmer says because they have to grow the economy and they are creating jobs. What else are they to do in Kenya
Which is maybe a wee bit like what the English said during the potato famine when they kept on exporting food from Ireland to England and the continent.
I didn’t realise that until the other day.
While the Potato Famine was in full swing killing 1,000,000 people and causing another 1,000,000 to leave Ireland landlords and those in power where busy exporting food. It was probably good for the economy in some sense and provided some jobs but does that make it right or good?
And thats before even start thinking about things like carbon footprints and packaging,seasonal food vs local food.
So why not
Take the church lawn (if you have a church lawn),
dig it up and make some raised vegetable beds and start growing lots of French beans, peas and brocolli instead.
Take the produce and give it out for free after church for people to use for their Sunday lunch.
Take the money you would have given Tesco/Sainsbury/Asda for the Kenya green beans and give it to Christian Aid or some other charity that deals with dropping global debt or campaigning against unfair trade laws, enjoy organic food with a low carbon footprint which tastes fresh and has been grown on your church property.
If there are green beans left over put them in a freezer bag and refrigerate until you feel like having green beans again.
Have a really big Harvest Service with food you’ve grown on the old lawn, then turn it into soup for a community soup lunch (for free).
Or keep your church lawn grass but get rid of the lawnmower and keep a few sheep/chickens on it. But thats for another day…
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