Category Archives: waste

Food Security and the Last Billion

atakpame-1983Yesterday, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Administration, complained that this year, due to the global food crisis, an additional 40 million humans are joining the ranks of the chronically food insecure around the world, and the total for the seriously at-risk is now at least about 963 million. About 1 billion around the world are now at dire imminent risk of starvation and debilitating malnutrition. Needless to say, Afrikan countries, most run by anti-Afrikan, indeed anti-human kleptocrats and neo-colonialists, serve up some of the highest numbers. Likewise for India, China, and elsewhere in the third world.

Perhaps in the wake of the urgency with which Mr. Diouf testified to the UN’s food agency, now may be a time to muse about the implications of our individual eating habits on global ecology and food security. In what I’ve learned of agronomy, it seems vegetarianism is the most ecologically sustainable diet that human populations can pursue. Even in rural settings, runaway grazing eats up land and depletes its moisture carrying capacity far more quickly than even conventional mono-crop rearing. Eating fruits and using herbs from the forest – minimally invasive in practice – seems like the total opposite of grazing, factory farming, and other practices that have led to extreme deforestation and desertification, including the misguided steps being taken in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere to convert old-growth broad-leaf rainforest into vast groves of palm oil for bio-fuel export.

I think the Afrikan that moves away from meat is making a profound move. Not only is it in pursuit of the primal health colored folks will need to fight imperialism and neo-colonialism and establish a united Afrika serving and enriching the lives of Afrikans, but it is also an engagement with the carrying capacity of the Earth, and an acknowledgment of the delicate balance needed for the planet to replenish itself. It suggests we are willing to share and allow what the Earth can bountifully give to us, so long as we don’t take in excess and destroy the ecosystem in the process. It is well documented how much more water, land, food and fuel inputs are needed for even modest styles of animal husbandry to feed one individual, compared to inputs needed to feed one person through plant-based means only. At one extreme is factory farming and agribusiness that rapes the Earth without recourse to the least iota of moral restraint, and on the other, I think, the Afrikan moving towards serious raw veganism.

It is a move for the zealots, most will probably conclude. So be it. It tastes good and at least we know we are on Earth’s side, custodians of ecological sustainability and food security, because of our dietary choices. Already there is enough food to feed the world’s population, just that it’s concentrated in granaries in the West, and its potential to be utilized sensibly in Afrika is thwarted by cash-crop export economies, political instability, pollution, war, runaway urbanization, land privatization and land misuse. How much more could the ability to feed the world be expanded if less of us opt for the most wasteful land-use patterns by going for the meat, especially the factory-farmed meat?

Not that the millennium development goals are worth a damn beyond their pretty letters on conscience-appeasing paper, but if we want to take Mr. Diouff’s grievances seriously and consider how we can contribute to food security, even if rather indirectly, perhaps more of us should consider putting the meat down. This is just a microscopic baby-step into being a bit more mindful of the planet and all its resources we usurp to feed us, given the choices we make, even in diet. We haven’t even begun to discuss the fundamental problem of parasitic capitalism and its imposition of hunger, ignorance, land theft, and wretchedness on the “developing” world.

Don’t you get tired of it being the 21st century and black folks (and Asians, Indigenous folk and Latin Americans too) are still starving, still part of the last billion?

Afrikans – GREEN! Afrikans Must Become Zealous Environmentalists


To expand upon my latest entry at my political blog Project New Palmares, I’ve decided to stress the importance of Afrikan peoples to take global ecological and environmental issues very seriously. Especially in this the month of April, the month of Earth Day. Will we as Afrikans continue to allow others to speak for us when it comes to the fact that climate change will harm the Afrikan continent the most, or regarding the health and ecological disasters faced by Afrikan communities in the ghettos of America and elsewhere due to environmental racism?

Climate change will further expand the Sahara and Kalahari deserts on the one hand, while increasing flooding and torrential rain all across tropical Afrika and coastal Afrika on the other. Environmental racism means France and other European and Northern countries use Afrika as a dumping ground for nuclear and toxic waste, as happened in Cote D’Ivoire in 2006. The situation is similar in the Harlems and Newarks of the world, where asthma rates soar due to the location of waste processing sites, bus depots, and other unhealthy facilities in or near Afrikan communities in America, not in or around white and wealthy communities.

Pictured above is Wangari Maathai, leader of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya. In a nutshell, her legacy to Kenya and all of the developing world, as an environmentalist and political activist, has been the planting of 30 million trees to prevent soil erosion and improve rural woman’s lives by providing shelter, firewood, and access to clean water, among other things. The first Afrikan woman to become a Nobel laureate, I, as an Afrikan who deeply respects the virtues of planting trees and protecting the land, the watershed, the soil, and the whole ecosystem, hereby honor Queen Mother Maathai as a fantastic example for other Afrikans who should and must come to take the state of the natural environment extremely seriously.

I bring up the example of Wangari Maathai – the woman of the month here at Afrikan Raw Vegan Talk – to assert that Afrikans can address our ecological challenges autonomously and in simple ways. Planting trees is one of the most effective and beautiful methods. In Niger, the planting of trees is reversing desertification, as the linked 2007 NY Times article demonstrates. And these fruit trees also provide extra produce while fixing nitrogen in the soil for it to grow other crops. And as I have discussed in other blog entries here at Afrikan Raw Vegan Talk, the example of Yebua Danso at the Ahyiresu Naturalist Centre in Aburi, Ghana shows how effective and beautiful agroforestry can be – in which, to grow food, trees are actually planted, rather than chopped down in the old habit of “clearing the land.”

Afrika and countries and communities predominated by Afrikans – our abodes are not immune to calls to consume less and waste less. Living in Afrika I saw some of the worst pollution on Earth – creations mainly of our own habits and a lack of education on proper, sanitary waste disposal. In urban Ghana or Nigeria or elsewhere, one will notice plastic bags everywhere, clogging up the gutters, floating around even in the woods, all over the grimier areas of the open markets. By just eliminating plastic bag usage altogether and using reusable canvas or other sorts of bags and baskets, how much cleaner would our cities and towns and villages in Afrika and in the Afrikan world be? Even Bed-Stuy and Newark are polluted with this sort of waste and litter.

Solutions and ways to live by example as an ecologically responsible Afrikan – these are not to be found or expounded upon by white hippies on our behalf. We have to own this problem as much as, if not more than, anyone else in the world, no matter who created it. We often do little things and fall into socially engineered habits which reinforce the ecological crisis we all face, especially we Afrikans. So I hope others also contribute to simple practices and organizing tools for Afrikans to respond effectively to the environmental, ecological, and resultant economic crises of the day, which will also boost our food security, land arability, and water availability and quality.

What can we do? Some things that immediately come to my mind:
– Drive less; rely on ones own body and on public transport more for transportation
– Do not use disposable plastic bags; rather use reusable bags or baskets
– Use reusable bottles for water
– Go Vegan! Meat production is one of the greatest usurpers of natural resources, produces immense waste, is viciously cruel, and pastoralism in Afrika is fast expanding the Sahara as browsers chew away the greenery acre by acre
– Reuse ones goods as much as possible
– Consume less, shop less for non-essential things
– Eat more produce and natural foods, rather than heavily processed and therefore packaged foods whose containers cannot be discarded to decompose or compost organically
– Make the most of ones locale in terms of recreation, travel, etc. so as to not tax the environment too often by the heavy pollution spewed by current commercial air traffic
– Eat more locally-grown foods so as to reduce the carbon footprint of food transport over long distances
– Take the lights and other appliances off when not using them
– Live an overall more modest and simple life

Any other suggestions? Feel free to contribute. I only want the world to be cleaner and more sustainable, especially wherever Afrikans are found. And Afrikans MUST take the lead and be fully responsible in that effort. In Afrika, there too, people must consume, waste, pollute, and damage the land LESS. Development, as Frantz Fanon said, must not be into a new Europe or America. We Afrikans can and will make Afrika and Afrikan communities ecologically sustainable paradises, for ourselves to enjoy and raise the next generation within.