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Food Security

Wayne Roberts – The John Wayne of Food Security

By February 24, 2011 No Comments

Submitted by Javan on Thu, 2011-02-24 09:07

robertsw05-213x300When Wayne Roberts took the podium at the Alberta Pathways 2 Sustainability Conference yesterday as the dinner keynote, after so many speakers I had a similar feeling like walking through the eastern slopes of the Rockies in tall grass during spring… what’s that irritation? might be another wood tick…

Looking up to see what would be sucking my attention I was surprised by the image I saw, an Elephant on a New York City Street…


My thoughts turned to the “Elephant in the room” concept but no, that wasn’t where Wayne was going.

“What ever you are going to say about food, it’s going to be big.”

Elephant StreetHuh. That’s pretty profound. With a rash of food focused books and movements Wayne is right. Food is the topic right now.

And rightly so.

We make on average 200 decisions pertaining to food a day. That’s every person, every day. If we multiple this daily decision making process by 7 Billion people, every day 1.4 Trillion decisions are make concerning food. Thus if small changes are made we can create improvements by volume.

Not one to feel that “if we all make a small change, the world will be a better place” this time I heard the sentiment I reconsidered my position. Every day 1.4 Trillion decision on food are made. We all have to eat and thus our decisions about food can create change.

Wayne’s words hit me where it counted, in the stomach.

yoda-toonMaybe it was wry smile and perchance to unleash humour from his Yoda like demeanor when it comes to food security. Or perhaps mastery of the facts (FYI – 3 food species Corn, Wheat and Rice make up 40% of the calories for the earth’s people – holy monoculture batman!) or maybe it was his Bob Hope delivery of those facts whatever it was, Wayne’s presentation turned my irritation to inspiration.

The final take home message, the bumper sticker to place on your hybrid or bicycle, or if you live in farming country attempt to affix to your horse (good luck on that endeavour by the way) was given with the same love, humour and scientific foundation…

The time of the Boycott over.

It’s time to support positive action through incentivised sustainable solutions.

The love of the Buycott is in.

We live in consumer culture and it’s our dollars that vote. Patroning local shops that practice conscious business practices that are in align with our own values, can make change. Being a “locavore” is being an activist.

I’ll have to tell that to my 83 year old hyper-conservative Grandfather the next time he’s going the farmer’s market.

It’s important to note that we are not consumers by nature, we are people, friends and family. In our economic system we participate as players through the role of consumers. But, the role of consumer has weight and it’s the way we play this game of modern society.

As Wayne wrapped up he left on a note of inspiration and optimism.

We are all we’ve ever need to make the world we want to live in.

I was reminded of a talk with David Suzuki where he explained that in North America people would approach and cry out “What should we do, Dave, what?!?”. As if Suzuki is a magazine of silver bullets to be automatically fired at all of the world’s issues and problems.

Yet in developing nations, people would come with the same urgency to speak to Suzuki and instead pepper him with stories of what they were doing to solve their issues.

RosieWayne finished with the 1942 image “We can do it!” of Rosie the Riveter. The embodiment of gumption and a little stick-to-it-ness that helped woman enter the workforce and continue to break through the gender divide in WWII. We can use Rosie as an example in our food vexed world and ask a simple question to everyone including city planners, stock brokers, garbage collectors, journalists and politicians alike – how does what you do relate to food?

How does what you do relate to food?

We are what we eat.

If we eat we’re engaged in agriculture.


How does what you do relate to food?

And what are you going to do about it?

Permaculturally Yours,


PS To listen to Wayne’s keynote click here to enjoy.

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