We now find ourselves in Iowa. We have driven through millions of acres of corn and soy beans. The rolling hills all begin to look the same. We meet up with a group known as the Immigrant Allies. They inform us that the majority of the people working at the meat packing plant are all from the same town in Michoacán, Mexico. There are now more people from this community living in this US city than back in their hometown. They tried to start a community garden for the immigrant community, but the anglos of the community were angered that they would help immigrants instead of them. They’re always good enough to pick or get their food to the supermarket and their plate, but not to reap benefits of the US society. I think about all the millions of acres of subsidized corn and its consequent displacement of the people of Mexico. For a people whose diet revolves around corn, NAFTA is a death sentence. These people to be displaced from their land because of US policy, them pulled to this area to work the meat packing industry, and then persecuted in the US and raided by ICE, only to be jailed and then deported back to Mexico. Does this piss anyone else off! I want to take all anti-immigrant people and run them through this infuriating roller coaster!
We meet with a small organic farmer in the heart of the commodity farming. Although his training was in the industrial monoculture farming, he has switched over to organic diversity farming. However, being in the heart of this, he was hit by a crop dusting of pesticide, making all his produce unsellable. Although it was an accident, it makes you wonder what type of warfare the other side could wage.
Engaging in conversation with one of the riders, it appears that 4-H and FFA are looked down upon, as they are seen as the pushers of industrial farming. These two organizations are the main forces of youth interaction revolving around agriculture in my community and thousands of others in the US. Our way of life is looked down upon by the greater society as a whole, so to have the liberal movements look down upon as well, is angering quite honestly. It has always been angering to have liberal hippie types, who have now come into this way of life, not because they had to, but because they have enough money to live that way, look down upon us and feel the need to “educate the stupid country folk.” It’s always these people, wrapped in their privilege, who are in the spotlight, given grants, and praised for their way of life. How about us country folk who lived that way of life, not because it was cool, but because we had to in order to survive? The bottom line, is that I would rather take a hard working country person to lead the change, than a privileged liberal virus character, because that’s where the change needs to be.
I will agree that there are a certain number of people in FFA that will go onto the big industrial way of farming. However, there are many out there, like the farmer in Iowa and my cousin, who will take their training and convert it into a better way of farming. To dismiss youth organizations such as this because of their past history or what some associated with the organizations may be doing is very ignorant. What should be highlighted is the extreme potential that we have to work with youth who are open to a world of thoughts and ideas. That is the path I followed in 4-H and the reason that I will help out the youth of my own community.
Before dinner, we get to interact with youth in the community who are engaged in growing food and food justice issues. They are a definitely hip group that will go onto do a great many things in the future. The only thing I can’t shake is what I feel to be the marginalization of the one Mexican boy in the group. Is it a microcosm of the community at large or our society at whole? Will he continue on with the group and become part of this knit of youth? Will more Mexican youth join the group? Will it become a place of integration so that they can work together towards common problems?
I loved the idea of having a community garden for the immigrant population. Being displaced from your homeland and not having the food you are used to, makes living dull and sad at times. Having the connection to your food brings to life your culture and your people. I gave them my Mexican pumpkin seeds and my chiltepines with the hope that they will do just that.