This spring we can plant some seeds for a beautiful local food, energy and manufacturing economy. Let’s do it.

Think of it this way: The average American meal travels 1,400 miles from farm to table. That’s not working, and we have just taken a pretty big hit. The New York Times reported,

“…In Wisconsin and Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions. And in South Florida, a region that supplies much of the Eastern half of the United States with produce, tractors are crisscrossing bean and cabbage fields, plowing perfectly ripe vegetables back into the soil. ...

"The amount of waste is staggering. The nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. A single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week. ...”

That is tragic.

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Big is not good if you can’t do anything with it. In fact, global capitalism has accelerated the growth of this pandemic.

Historically, epidemics are spread through two common forms of human movement: trade and war.

Think about this, in the Middle Ages, it took a decade or so for the Bubonic Plague (the Black Death) to spread from China through the Silk Roads and Mongol conquests to Europe. By 1918, the Spanish flu spread from Spain to France and Britain in June and then the U.S. and Canada by the fall. That pandemic followed battle lines and military movements during World War I.

COVID-19 took a few days to spread from Wuhan to other Chinese cities, and then it moved along trade routes. By March, it had hit 72 countries. According to Spectre Journal, “Dun & Bradstreet estimates that 51,000 companies around the world have one or more direct suppliers in Wuhan, while 938 of the Fortune 1000 companies have tier one or two suppliers in the Wuhan region. The emphasis for the last two or three decades on lean production, just-in-time delivery, and, more recently, 'time-based competition,' along with updated transportation and distribution infrastructure, has accelerated the speed of transmission."

Somehow, it is not surprising that the single largest hotspot for COVID-19 is now the Smithfield Meats plant in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Don’t pick a fight with Mother Earth. You won’t win.

In late March, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program, said clearly that the immediate priority was to protect people from the coronavirus and prevent its spread. “But our long-term response must tackle habitat and biodiversity loss….Never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people…Our continued erosion of wild spaces has brought us uncomfortably close to animals and plants that harbor diseases that can jump to humans… If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

Getting local changes the dynamic of the relationship. It means less fossil fuels, and it means quality over quantity. I am working on my fossil fuels diet plan. That means less travel, plastics free future, local energy, and local food.

For years, I’ve been a member of the Slow Food Movement. Those are some of the values of that movement, active in over a hundred countries, and celebrating local food diversities, quality and culture.

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Our community received the Slow Food Award for our manoomin, or wild rice. That’s a magical food, which like maple syrup, only comes from this part of the world. That’s unique to here. Indeed, local foods like champagne, cheeses and special crop varieties include anyone who has a gift to celebrate agro biodiversity. We got this.

We’ve cut fossil fuels consumption by 20% in crisis., but we don’t need to use all those fossil fuels. The answer is not to reboot a crazy dangerous economy so it can prepare for the next crisis. The answer is to create an economy which is healthy for the planet.

According to the Paris Climate Agreement, the present level of fossil fuels consumption is about the amount we will have to be at to survive on Mother Earth. So, let’s make stylish transitions for quality of life. I am thinking solar thermal heating systems are a key part of the solution in these cold climates. Why not reduce your fuel bill 20% by working with Mother Nature?

We’re fortunate that we live near the Amish. They have the local economy down. We’ve been on the local egg program for a while, there is a lot of good local food. If I was going to draft a team, I’d definitely want to draft the Amish.

It’s maple syrup season now, fiddleheads soon, mushrooms in abundance, and, if we play our cards right, we’ll have some good garden salad greens.

Last year, because of the constant wet, we didn’t do so well on our corn crop, but mushrooms were over the top. Each year is different, and we are grateful for what we are provided. That’s a benefit of small and local, you can adapt.

Joy and hope, that’s contagious as well.