Learning from Cuba

Dear Friends,

On the way home from a Black Lives Matter march and rally this week, Kathy and I stopped at City Hall for … lunch! Well, not a full-blown meal, but a hefty treat of fresh strawberries from a sizable patch growing along the sidewalk on the north side of the building.

As we stained our fingers red with perfectly ripe berries, Kathy and I praised whichever council member or City staff person came up with the idea of planting an edible landscape. We pondered what it would take to turn public spaces across the City into berry patches, orchards, and groves of nut trees.

There is no doubt that industrial agriculture will fail as we move deeper into the New Climate Era. On the mind of every person who eats for a living should be one gnawing question: What must individuals, neighborhoods, cities, states, regions, and nations do to shift toward local, organic systems of food production that will allow us to survive in the difficult years ahead?

Related to that question: Where are the role-model communities that we might learn from as we develop more sustainable practices of raising food?

Well, the often-maligned nation of Cuba may hold the best answer. In 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet empire, the drying up of Cuba’s oil supply, and the US embargo, Cuba was forced to switch quickly from large-scale industrial farms to small-scale organic farms.

The shift was painful, but it happened quickly since there’s nothing like hunger or thirst to expedite a big, rapid transformation. And yes, when it was no longer possible to fuel a tractor or combine, Cuban farmers brought back oxen.

Cuba: A Successful Case Study of Sustainable Agriculture, by Peter M. Rosset for a thoughtful, scholarly read on the subject.

Also on this week’s program, we talk with Pascha Morgan about his experience in the Polk County jail after being arrested at a recent Black Lives Matter protest.

We also talk about dicamba pesticides, how some conventional farmers have almost no choice but to use the deadly products, and how other growers — in 2017, on 3.6 million acres of farmland! — have had their crops damaged or destroyed by the chemical.

We also look at research suggesting that, by one measurement, humanity’s response to the coronavirus might actually be making climate change worse.

(00:53) Black activist shares his arrest experience, with Pascha Morgan;
(25:09) Dicamba just took a hit;
(37:51) COVID-19 might be making climate change worse;
(51:17) Sustainable farming lessons from Cuba, with Kathy Byrnes (check out this segment on Facebook, too)

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Ed Fallon