Our car comes to a halt before a log in an inlet beside a back road. The log is used to stop off-roaders from tearing up the earth, but this is not our intention, so we gather our things and step into the bristling scrubland. We look to the shelter of a large mound of earth, and clear a space beneath it. Just earlier, I had been listening to a story of a reporter who was stranded in Afghanistan, hunted by the Taliban. There are no bullets flying at us now, yet I do not feel entirely alone, or entirely safe. Continue reading
The following is an excerpt from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants.
One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world.
Our mothers intuitively understood something essential: the green is poisonous to civilization. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, nonlinear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic.
Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it the more we will awaken.
It is no wonder that we are taught to close off our senses to Nature.
Through these channels, the green paws of Nature enter into us, climb over us, search within us, find all our hiding places, burst us open, and blind the intellectual eye with hanging tendrils of green.
The terror is an illusion, of course. For most of our million years on this planet human beings have daily eaten the wild. It’s just that the linear mind knows what will happen if you eat it now.
But we’ve gone astray with this, distracted from our task. Still, it’s a good reminder. When your hair begins to grow long and you think strange thoughts, sometimes you will wonder what is happening and will become afraid.
In Nature, human markers fade, lose significance. It takes awhile to learn the old markers again, to see the path that ancient humans took before us. In kindness, learn how to comfort yourself, to hold yourself as you would a child that is afraid of the light. (I suppose you could learn the poisonous plants first if you need to; there aren’t very many.) For on this journey, you mostly have yourself for company.
It helps if you become your own best friend
and find out what is true about all this for yourself.
Open the door and take a look around outside.
The air is shining there,
and there are wonders,
more wonderful than words can tell.
This is a real banana. Two weeks ago, I stood on top of a truck with a machete in the rain, intent on harvesting a bunch of wild bananas I’d found on a back road. A few swings, and slice! The bunch fell to the ground like a crashed spaceship. My friends and I gathered them quickly (not wanting to get drenched), so we barely noticed that there was something odd about them. When I sliced one open, however, I noticed a great difference from the bananas I was used to eating: it was filled with pea-sized black seeds. “Aha!” Axel said. “This is a real banana.”
As it turns out, the tree we’d found was a direct descendent of the first wild bananas human beings ate. Continue reading
Coconuts grow wild where my parents live in Costa Rica. As my friends drove from coast to coast, we would peel off the road and shove the car into a hasty reverse whenever we saw a mature bunch of coconuts. We’d grab the machete and–after a few good whacks–run back with an armful of coconuts. Coconut water and meat was our staple food as we trekked down along the east coast, Continue reading
Wisconsin’s Women, Infants and Children’s Program “Approved Foods” brochure is cheerfully decorated with stock photos of vegetables and smiling children. Inside is a well-intentioned (or well lobbied) and utterly misguided attempt to… what? Help people? Make sure those in food assistance programs eat healthy food? Or cheaper food? Continue reading
Interview with Lindy Hart of Two Little Monkeys Chocolate. Continue reading
No, we’re not talking about chocolate that’s free because slaves made it. We’re here to say “no” to exploitation in the name of tasty treats.
Over 40% of the world’s chocolate is produced by child slaves. There are now an estimated 1.1 million child slaves working in the chocolate industry. “These children typically come from countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive in Ivory Coast and then send some of their earnings home. But that’s not what happens. These children, usually 11-to-16-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, receive no education, are barely fed, are beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.” Continue reading
The Dark Side of Chocolate investigates child slavery in the Ivory Coast and other countries that produce cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate. Journalists go undercover with hidden cameras and assumed identities to get the inside story, including interviews with child traffickers and on-the-job footage of those who work to rescue these children.
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