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Organic Products vs Guerilla Gardening

category north america / mexico | miscellaneous | opinion / analysis author Saturday January 13, 2007 05:44author by Jae Muzzin - Windsor Guerilla Gardening Collectiveauthor email roadwindsor at riseup dot net

A number of well-meaning individuals have made the choice of growing and consuming organic food. While organic food is obviously a better choice than more artificial methods of food production, the present incarnation of the organic food movement does not address the root issues of industrial food production. Those issues being flaws of capitalist economics and personal alienation from food production. This article demonstrates that self-sustenance horticulture (guerilla gardening in particular) addresses both these issues, and exposes organic products for what they really are: a co-option by capitalism of people's desires to return to a more natural way of life.

A number of well-meaning individuals have made the choice of growing and consuming organic food. While organic food is obviously a better choice than more artificial methods of food production, the present incarnation of the organic food movement does not address the root issues of industrial food production. Those issues being flaws of capitalist economics and personal alienation from food production. This article demonstrates that self-sustenance horticulture (guerilla gardening in particular) addresses both these issues, and exposes organic products for what they really are: a co-option by capitalism of people's desires to return to a more natural way of life.

Flaws Of Capitalist Economics

Capitalism is a system of economics where ownership of wealth is used to accumulate more wealth for the owning class. When producing and selling commodities, there are two methods used to increase profit from these commodities: increasing volume of sales, and decreasing the expense of producing each unit. These two strategies of production are what lead agribusiness to adopt GMOs, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, monoculture and transcontinental food transport. Given that these economic practices of market economy are what created harmful agribusiness techniques, and given that these practices are unavoidable in any kind of commodity market, how can one conclude that harmful agribusiness techniques would cease to exist while a market economy still exists? Further, how can one conclude that an organic food niche market will bring an end to these harmful techniques, when this niche market is a mere extension of the system that the organic food movement claims to oppose?

This niche market that does exist, dutifully follows the laws of supply and demand. Any sensible person would choose organic food if the fair choice was there, so this "demand" makes organic food typically higher priced. Due to the inherent inequality of capitalist wealth distribution, and the pressure put on the lower income segment of society to stretch their dollars further, economically disadvantaged peoples (the vast majority of us) will make the choice of buying the cheaper food over the organic. In this situation, organic food becomes a privilege for the upper crust of society. Now, not only is wealth reserved to the upper class, but natural and safe food is as well. Organic food is nothing more than a new commodity, not a revolutionary idea. As long as it is a commodity it perpetuates capitalism. By perpetuating capitalism, it does more to help agribusiness than it does to stop it.

Guerilla gardening on the other hand, is entirely removed from capitalist economy. It is impossible for capitalism to commodify garden food because there is no market between the producer and the consumer.

Alienation From Food Sources

Organic certification is a guarantee to the consumer that certain methods were employed in producing the food. This comforts the consumer by making him more aware of where his food comes from. People appreciate organic methods because it is closer to how plants exist in nature. They see it as more sustainable and safer for humans as well as the ecosystem. What organic food products can never deliver is the close relationship historically enjoyed by humans and the life systems (wilderness, family farms) that provided them with food.

Economy removes food production from people's lives and they are expected to focus on other tasks, tasks that are highly specialized and usually have no direct benefit to the person performing the task. Even most farmers produce cash crops and buy the rest of their diet. The connectedness once felt with eco-systems is now gone, and people now pick fruit from produce aisles instead of trees. This detachment must affect our psyche in profound ways.

Guerilla gardening reacquaints us with what sustains us. We employ first-hand the methods that we would like to be seen in how our food is produced. No longer is one reliant on organic standards organizations and food retailers. No longer is food a commodity but an integral part of our daily lives. Organic food may be a better consumer choice, but it has no profound effect on daily life.

Conclusion

Guerilla gardening is an effort to become independent from market economy, combined with the willingness to militantly expropriate land from capitalists who benefit from this exploitative market economy. By using expropriated land, gardening becomes an option for all people, not just those who can afford a house with a backyard. Guerilla gardening is an intersection of self-sufficiency and class war. It is an attempt at escaping capitalism without forgetting that once cannot escape capitalism without fighting it. One cannot escape a prison that encloses the entire planet. The only option is to work to destroy that prison. Guerilla gardening has the potential to help destroy this prison. Organic products however, are more comparable to a reward system for well behaved prisoners.

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