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“The Eyes of the Future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.”

–Terry Tempest Williams

October Field Report

10/28/09

Eat our way to a better planet…

Calling for bold action on the climate change frontier! Jack and Celestia gathered with other Moabians to celebrate 350.org's climate change initiative.

Jack and I recently attended the Confluence Literary Festival in Moab, Utah. We were greeted by golden cottonwoods and crisp blue skies, a stark contrast to the red sandy rock formations of Moab. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Eating the West,” and Jack had been invited as a last-minute keynote speaker and moderator of two panel discussions; climate change and food, and foodshed and watershed thinking. I had the opportunity to sit on and contribute to both panels, and serve as a logistician and chauffer. We enjoyed spending time and sharing ideas with the event’s other headliners, Deborah Madison (Who wrote What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and many other titles), David Mas Masumoto (Wisdom of the Last Farmer, and Epitaph for a Peach), and Ann Vileisis (author of Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get it Back, and other books), all of whom are extremely talented writers, and appreciators of food…Dad and I were in good company.

Jack Loeffler explains the concept of "thinking like a watershed" using John Wesley Powell's geological survey map.

Jack Loeffler explains the concept of "thinking like a watershed" using John Wesley Powell's geological survey map.

As part of a host of events, Jack and I went to the Moab farmers’ market so he could sign books with the other participating authors. By some fluke, it happened to be

350.org’s day of international climate action, and shortly after we arrived a woman with a bullhorn asked all of the market patrons to head to the southern end of the park to partake in the festivities. We were happy to participate with the millions of other people (spanned across 181 countries) who came together for one of the most widespread days of environmental action in our history. Over 5,200 events were held around the world, where like-minded folks gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis. To do our part, we, and a few hundred other market-goers, assembled ourselves in the shape of “350 MOAB,” to show our support for the event, and a photographer (from high atop a movable platform) took our

photo. Hope it does some good.

Afterwards, all the featured authors and panel speakers headed to the library for the panel discussions. And even though we didn’t write the treatise on how to save the world in the allotted 2-hour panel session, we addressed some important issues: why have people of color and/or of low-income status have been marginalized in America’s food revolution, how do we fix that; why hasn’t there been more (or any) focus/discussion about food in the healthcare debate; (and my personal favorite that I’ve been wondering for quite some time) how do we get the general public to care and make good food/water choices? Interesting food for thought, so to speak.

That evening, at Star Hall on Center St. was the “Readings and Ramblings” event where the guest speakers read selected works from their writing. From generations of family running a farm, to the unmistakably sweet taste of a peach, the history of food in America, and delicious notes from various farmers’ markets, the readings were a joy to listen to. And instead of reading, Jack played selected vignettes from his archive, illustrating the importance of people in connection to place.

The underlying theme that emerged from the weekend was that food is an important tie that binds us to our place. How wonderful it would be if we could be more conscious about our food choices…have a huge impact on carbon emissions just by making some decisions about how, and what, we eat. How if we got better acquainted with what grows right in our own neighborhood, perhaps even our own garden, we would not only strengthen our connection with our earth, but we would put less of a strain on Her by eating what is grown close to home. That’s homework that I would happily and heartily take on.

Until next time, thank you for reading.

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