|Back to the Table of Contents
|What would happen if
we try to industrialize the world?
|A report from the Food For
Thought Film Series
|by Ruth Ann Smalley
|The March Food For Thought
Film, The Economics of Happiness, cites globalization as a major
disintegrative force, impacting us culturally, spiritually, and
ecologically. Created by the International Society for Ecology and
Culture (ISEC), the film is message-driven, and that message is
ISEC is a non-profit organization which grew out of the Ladakh Project,
founded by linguist Helena Norberg- Hodge. Norberg-Hodge, who wrote and
directed the film, has been involved with Ladakh, or "Little Tibet"
since the 1970s. She views that region's experience as an object lesson
for the rest of us. Especially now that, she argues, "transnational
businesses effectively control governments." Worldwide, a "focus on
profit," Norberg-Hodge believes, "leads to division."
Described as an intact, largely selfreliant community, the Ladakh
people found themselves increasingly subject to the ills of the
industrialized world, starting in the '70s. They suffered the
destruction of their local markets and were thrown into unemployment.
Competition for resources caused the breakdown of formerly peaceful
relationships among differing religious groups. People with a vibrant
traditional culture began perceiving themselves as inferior to
westerners. In short, swept up in the momentum of globalization, the
Ladakh became unhappy, their lives riven by economic insecurity and
The imbalances created by external market pressures are shown in the
simple example of butter. Norberg- Hodge explains that "butter, trucked
over the Himalayas for several days to Ladakh, costs half as much as
butter from Ladakh." This undercutting of local markets is made
possible by government subsidies, not by greater efficiencies of
production. It is entirely unsustainable over the long haul. The larger
implications of this are asserted in an interview with Richard
Heinberg, who argues that "If we try, in the name of fairness, to
industrialize the world, we'll be facing universal famine. Ecosystems
will collapse." With ISEC's advisory board made up of people such as
agrarian writer Wendell Berry, biologist David Suzuki, Indian food
activist Vandana Shiva, systems theorist Fritjof Capra and organic food
advocate Alice Waters, it is no surprise that local food reliance is a
centerpiece of the film. We hear from Shiva about the high productivity
of small farms in India, and the plight of Indian farmers who have been
pressured to adopt large-scale, chemical-intensive methods. Interviews
with experts, activists and organizers from Japan, Bhutan, Peru,
Brazil, the U.K. and South Africa, interspersed with views of life in
Ladakh, reflect a common theme of the failed promise of globalization
as an economic model, and the need for localities to re-establish
control over as much of their economies as possible.
Panelists for the evening were Jim Booker, a Siena College professor of
economics and environmental studies, and Chris Anderson, a public
school teacher with experience in the Peace Corps. Chris and his wife
Kim run the Fair Trade store, Mango Tree Imports, in Ballston Spa.
FOR THOUGHT: An Evening of Socially Relevant Cinema is co-presented by
Honest Weight, WAMC Northeast Public Radio and the New York State
Council on the Arts. Along with a documentary film, the monthly event
features food samples from the Co-op and a panel discussion
highlighting social, political, environmental and community issues.
up: Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Thursday, May 17
Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger was a devoted Marine for nearly 25
years. As a drill instructor he lived and breathed the "Corps," and was
responsible for indoctrinating new recruits with its motto Semper
Fidelis, "Always Faithful." But when Jerry's 9-year old daughter died
of a rare type of leukemia, his world collapsed. As a grief-stricken
father he struggled for years to make sense of what had happened. His
search for answers led to the shocking discovery of a Marine Corps
cover-up of one of the largest water contamination incidents in U.S.
history. Semper Fi: Always Faithful follows Jerry's mission to expose
the Marine Corps--and force it to honor its oath of allegiance to
thousands of soldiers and their families exposed to toxic chemicals.
His fight revealed a grave injustice at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune,
and a looming environmental crisis at military sites nationwide.
Soon: June 21, Brunswick
screenings at The Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, 339 Central
Ave., Albany. 6pm reception, 7pm film. More info and tickets ($6): http://www.wamcarts.org/eventlist.php,
or call 518-465-5233 ext 4.
|Back to the Table of Contents