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Byron Steadman

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Oct. 24, 2012

At a time when the US government talks of food shortages yet is doing nothing to ensure food for its people but is doing numbers of things that seriously increase the threat and leave people more helpless, it is relevant to look at again at the famine in Ireland in the 19th century, considered “one of the darkest chapters in world history.”  This matters because the famine appears now to have been caused intentionally.
The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy
“During a Biblical seven years in the middle of the nineteenth century, Ireland experienced the worst disaster a nation could suffer. Fully a quarter of its citizens either perished from starvation or emigrated, with so many dying en route that it was said, “you can walk dry shod to America on their bodies.” In this grand, sweeping narrative, Ireland”s best-known historian, Tim Pat Coogan, gives a fresh and comprehensive account of one of the darkest chapters in world history, arguing that Britain was in large part responsible for the extent of the national tragedy, and in fact engineered the food shortage in one of the earliest cases of ethnic cleansing. So strong was anti-Irish sentiment in the mainland that the English parliament referred to the famine as “God’s lesson.”
“Drawing on recently uncovered sources, and with the sharp eye of a seasoned historian, Coogan delivers fresh insights into the famine’s causes, recounts its unspeakable events, and delves into the legacy of the “famine mentality” that followed immigrants across the Atlantic to the shores of the United States and had lasting effects on the population left behind. This is a broad, magisterial history of a tragedy that shook the nineteenth century and still impacts the worldwide Irish diaspora of nearly 80 million people today.”

The list of things that the government has done or has put in place that would only exacerbate or even cause food shortages are many and they run side by side with policies that prevent ordinary people and especially the poor from growing their own food.

An article on Alexandria, Virginia, exposes how it quietly removed home gardens from the poor in public housing, while loudly touting access to fresh local food it had itself ended, as well as promoting community gardens, which the city controls, and in what turns out to be extremely limited number and limited space to grow food, and charges a fee.  This sleight of hand has occurred across the US.  Cities proudly proclaim community gardens but behind the scenes, they have removed the poor’s access to growing food on the land they live on, including simply growing food in pots.

Primarily using recent corporate “food safety” laws as the weapon to curtail people’s producing or sharing or selling food themselves, laws have been put into place and police actions have been occurring that expose a pattern of

  • Cities are passing “food safety” ordinances making it a crime for people to give food to the homeless.
  • Cities and states are using armed agencies to attack local food producers, having turned misdemeanors around such minor infractions as certification, into felonies and even conspiracies to sell fresh food.  Worse, people are being accused of breaking laws that are not even in existence.
  • The FDA is attacking organic farms and food producers, especially around access to raw milk, even as the CDC puts out false information on it that is at odds with the CDC’s own data which show it to be as much as 35,000 times safer than other foods.  It is the only real milk in the country.
  • The USDA has shut down most small local meat processors across the country – despite no history of contamination – and left the biggest corporate processors in place, despite an on-going history of illnesses and deaths from contamination.  In shutting down local processors, the government has cut local communities off from control over local food, and left them at the whim of the big processors to deliver meat at all.
  • Having gotten rid of the small operations, the multinationals have just demonstrated why they put “food safety” laws into place.  The food safety agency in Canada (with USDA’s help) just brought a major slaughtering operation to destruction in only a few days and with no means provided for the company to correct any alleged problem – setting it up for easy picking by the multinationals.
  • The food safety division of the FDA has been directly asserting in court that people have no right to choose their own food, or to contract with each other,  and even no right to their own health.
  • Corporate lawyers have gotten food redefined as “stuff” knowing that GMOs do not fulfill the definition of food.  The basic of nutritional aspect of food is entirely missing as is its capacity to heal, and support fertility.
  • The EPA is one step closer to approving Dow’s Agent Orange pesticide , and thus opens up the possibility of the FDA declaring an infestation or contamination on organic farms and ordering aerial spraying with this new Agent Orange “pesticide,” thus wiping out normal agriculture in the US and truly killing the soil, animals, insects and ultimately, people.  This scenario is folded into the food safety law, designed by Monsanto’s VP Michael Taylor who is now running the FDA’s food safety division using that law, putting Monsanto in charge of all farms in the US.  Given that the DHS has declared organic crops bio-threats, and the USDA has listed earthworms – the indication of a healthy ecosystem – as an invasive species, the door is open to the FDA ordering the spraying of Agent Orange pesticide on private local organic farms and even gardens.
  • The food safety law allows for the shut down of food into cities if contamination is declared, without it having to be proven, and as though absolute starvation were preferable to contaminated food.  These provisions codify how the government behaved in New Orleans after Katrina, shutting off delivery of food and water (even donated by citizens), and preventing people from leaving the area, and gunning down unarmed people who broke into stores to obtain food.
  • The government is moving ahead rapidly with GMO approvals despite emergency warnings from agricultural experts that farm animals are going sterile and agriculture itself could collapse here.
  • In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources, leaving all logic – except the profit of industrial agriculture – behind, has declared small farmers’ heritage pigs, which are raised behind fences, and raised on pasture, “feral” and “invasive” and has ordered they all be destroyed and farmers raising them, declared felons.  This is bringing home to the US a similar US agribusiness attack on pigs that occurred in Haiti to force US hogs that require huge expensive inputs of USDA commodities on the country.  The US used the threat of swine flu to destroy the special breed of Haitian pigs, leaving Haitians without the food and income the non-demanding little pigs provided.  In the UK and Korea and across, US agribusiness has profited from fear of foot and mouth disease (harmless to people) arranging for military to slaughter millions of farmers’ animals.  In Asia, the hoax of avian flu was used.  In both cases, the slaughters left countries dependent on imports by the giant multinationals, and much less food secure.  Local sources were wiped out and then laws put in place putting in place a financial bar to raising animals.  Biodiversity is wiped out and it is biodiversity that provides a food system its resilience and security.
  • Recent Presidential orders include the seizure of all farms, all livestock, all farm equipment and all food.  How such removal of food production from the American people is protective of them or the country is unclear.

This is a very short list of the things the US government is doing which ensure the American people would have little means to feed themselves if food shortages occur, or are arranged.  Certainly, Michelle Obama is not following Eleanor Roosevelt in urging people to plant home gardens.  Michelle Obama has her own organic garden but she has not once encouraged people to do the same by growing their own organic gardens at home, or suggested that this would be a major solution for getting local fresh food to poor children.  Instead, she supports school food programs that leave children of the poor eating USDA’s GMO-commodities.  For the federal program, full of noble words and “sustainable” PR, writes itself an out – local food will be served in schools, if it feasible.

Once Americans grasp that bankers control industrial ag, and in 2008, manipulated the market in grain commodities and made a fortune on starvation, and that they want a dramatic decrease in population (while calling themselves “the Good Club”), the Irish Famine takes on new significance, as do the mega coffins the CDC has been storing outside Atlanta.

That the British appear to have engineered the Irish Famine is a valuable warning that provides direction.  People must provide for their own food locally and fend off all city and state laws that are obstacles, however “sustainably” disguised, that would deprive them of that human right .  Food must be in the hands of the public.

This can be done rapidly.  Nurseries only need to sell pots of mixed vegetables, as they sell pots of mixed herbs or mixed lettuces.

Many crops such as kale, cabbage, beets, carrots, spinach, collards, Chinese cabbages, parsley, etc. grow well during the winter and can be grown in 5 gallon pots by anyone.  3 such pots for a family would provide nutrients for daily soups for a family.  In a neighborhood, everyone might contribute, including meat and eggs and any beans they may have stored.  In short order, and at little cost (perhaps $10 a pot for organic soil and three vegetables seedlings per pot), the entire country could become food secure very rapidly, even people in apartments.  An example of what might be grown in the pots.Pot 1:  spinach, red cabbage, chard, skirted with parsley

Pot 2:  broccoli, kale, collards, skirted with purple sage

Pot 3:  chives or bunching onions, lettuces, rosemary, thyme,

In apartments with little light, turnips from the grocery can potted up (or placed in bottles so their long tail can develop roots again), and will produce greens all winter from the energy stored in the root.  The greens simply need to be cut when needed and will grow back.  With enough turnips grown indoors in this way, a family would have greens regularly.  This is true of beets as well.

It is not too late to provide such things to one’s family and to make connections with neighbors around food, so people are once again looking after each other.  The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy has provided a useful overview of how food, when controlled, has been used to harm, and one can see numerous actions by the US government that are worrisome.  Common sense and wisdom suggest that people and local communities must control their own food.  In Russia, families are providing more than half of the food in the country, so there is proof that the US does not need to depend on Industrial agriculture to survive.  This decentralized food system makes a country more secure and independent.  Whereas the risk of depending on globalized industrial agriculture run by elite with their own agendas, presents obvious and severe risks.