India’s Daughter (No place for Women)

Yesterday I watched a film that changed my life. A film that made me sob, scream, and yell. A film that left me feeling sad, scared, disgusted, confused and enraged!  A film that empowered me to write.

Jyoti Singh

On December 16, 2012 Jyoti Singh, a 23 year old medical student in Delhi, went to a movie with a male friend. Jyoti had just finished college exams and was excited that her struggles and hard work had paid off. Her parents were very poor and they sold their ancestral lands to send her to school to become a doctor. She worked nights at a call center and spend every waking hour working to become a doctor. Her dream was to establish a hospital in her village where no medical treatment was available. Her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams. They saw the potential in their daughter. When millions across India viewed daughters as a wasted investment, Jyoti’s parents spent everything they had to help their daughter succeed.

Jyoti and her friend went and saw Life of Pi. When the movie was over they boarded a bus to return home. That joyous occasion was soon transformed into a living nightmare. On the bus the male companion was beaten with an iron bar. Joyti was dragged to the back of the bus where she was brutally gang raped, mutilated and disemboweled while the bus traveling around the city. Six men ( I hate to use the word man because they are not human ) took turns raping Jyoti. The youngest of the group a 17 year old boy used the iron bar to brutalize her internally. When they were done with her they threw the two young people from the bus and left them to die on the streets of Delhi. Doctors did everything they could to save her, but her injuries were so gruesome and her body could not recover. 90% of her intestines had to be removed because of the damage that was inflicted. She passed away fourteen days after the attack. 

India’s Daughter is a documentary about these horrible events. It is also a beautiful film about a beautiful soul that was taken too early and killed in such a horrible way. The documentary has touching interviews from Jyoti’s parents and friends. There are also chilling interviews of the murders telling their story with no remorse. Footage of the protests that resulted in India and the beatings from the police and military. There were also interviews from the attorneys representing the murders.

I beg my readers please take the time to watch this documentary and to share it. I will not lie to you,  it is not easy to watch. You will cry! You will feel sick! and you will feel enraged!! I am writing this blog because this story needs to be told. I am writing this blog because the dangers are very real! I am writing this blog because it is NEVER the victims fault!!!!! I am writing this blog because I demand change!! 

Watching this film changed my life. It had filled me with a passion to share this story.

Mukesh Singh

Mukesh Singh, the bus driver and rapist

I am outraged and disgusted with how these men brutalized this poor women! I am taken aback by the fact that they have no remorse. The documentary interviewed Mukesh Singh from prison. Mr Singh he was the driver of the bus and who also participated in the rape and murder of Jyoti. These are some of the comments he had to make about his actions!

“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good. When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy,” he said. “The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”

The killers Lawyer

Honestly I am most disgusted by the attorneys in the case!!!  Who openly argued that it was the was Jyotis fault for being out at night, and that it is the women responsibility to keep from being raped. Watching these men talk and defend their clients right to “punish” Jyoti filled me with RAGE. I screamed at the laptop! How could he blame the victim! How could he treat women with such little respect!!! How could he be proud of his views!!! These were educated men! Lawyers! Yet these men saw women as less than animals. Listening to these men talk filled me with such anger that I felt like vomiting! 

“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.

“A female is just like a flower. It gives good looking…very softness performance, pleasant. But on the other hand, a man is like a thorn. Strong, tough enough. The flower always need protection. If you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt. If you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshiped. 

The other lawyer, AP Singh, had said in a previous televised interview:

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.”

There is a petition to take action against bow lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh, I urge you to take a moment to click on the link Petition against the Attorneys.

It is time for a change!

The documentary forced me to see how women are viewed in much of India. In many Indian homes girls are seen as less than boys. Girls are seen a curse, a burden. They are used for child bearing, cooking, and cleaning! They are seen as submissive and obedient. These men that raped and murdered Jyoti did not see her even as a human being! She was treated worse than an animal. I dare say that if a cow was being beaten as Jyoti was , these same rapists would have stopped the attacker of the cow.

Women and girls have value!! Jyoti parents saw their daughter’s value!

India’s government has BANNED this documentary, afraid of the reaction of the people! This is an injustice to women and Jyoti! This further shows India’s lack of commitment to women’s rights and equality!

Imagine if this was your sister, your daughter, your niece, your friend! Imagine the pain she went through! Imagine the pain of her family! It is time to stand up. To speak out! To lay blame where is belongs, with the attacker! To end child brides, To educate girls! To teach boys that it is not their ” right” to possess women! Lets make Jyoti death mean progress!

IT IS NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT! 

 

Imagine a World Where Everyone Actually Followed Their Religion

John Lennon author of “Imagine”

In 1971 John Lennon released the song “Imagine” where he described a “perfect” world where there are no counties or religions to separate people.

“Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace”

So as a tribute to the late Mr. Lennon I ask this question; imagine a world where people actually follow their religion. They stand for the laws and the commandments their saints, prophets, and gurus founded.  Every religion I have encountered in my life has shared the same basic principles of peace, love, being honest, being faithful, doing charity work, taking care of the weak and sick. Most religions define the attributes that makes a good person.

Yesterday I spent the day with one of my good friends and her children. She is a devout head covering Muslim women. I am a proud Christian married to a Proud Sikh. We spent the entire day talking about everything from food, to parenting, to religion. As we shared with each other our customs, beliefs and traditions we realized that we agreed on so much. Here three separate religions from across the word all united under the same basic principles. Yes we have different names for God, we pray in different languages, and we worship in different ways.  The reality is despite our difference we are quite similar. We raise our children in the same manner, we have similar views on women’s right, we share the same passion for helping people, and we have similar moral codes that guide our actions. Honestly I see more similarities than differences.

The conflict occurs when humans distort the word of God.  Al-Qaeda does not represent the true nature of Islam, but it’s what we hear about on the news. Just as the Westboro Baptist Church does not represent Christianity, but they make themselves heard louder than other churches.  The corruption of the word of God is what causes the conflict between people.

Imagine a world where all these people did what their religion preached! 

It really frustrates me when people do not up hold the basic principles of their religion and thus give their religion a bad name. Many people pick and choose what they want to follow, and use religious passages to simply support what they want and ignore other parts. They use religion as an excuse to hate, to cause violence, to exclude, and to have power over other people. The basic concept of every religion is peace and respect for life!

The song Imagine was popular because it touched people! It asked the fundamental question that many are so afraid to ask. Imagine a world without dividing lines. No countries to die for or religion to fight about. It’s an interesting, though unrealistic concept.

The amount of people who have died simply because they were a different religion or of a different nationality or even a different sect of the same religion is astounding and honestly heart breaking. The number cannot even be computed because its so high. Centuries of killing! Most wars in the past have occurred because one country attacked another. Today most of the violence around the world is occurring within countries between different religions, political ideologies, or ethnicity.

On September 11th, 2001 a day I will always remember, 2,996 people died during tourist attacks on the United States by members of Al-Qaeda. This group of radicals decided that the lives of these people were worth nothing. They sacrificed these innocent people to make a political and religious point and to cause terror. They claimed it was a Jihaad ( holy war) that was granted by the Quran. “Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allaah is well able to assist them.”  [Quran 22: 39].  The Quran also states that you should not take a life without cause. “Nor take life — which Allaah has made sacred — except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law).” [Quran 17:33]. Al-Qaeda argued that the United States because of their foreign influence was an attack on Islam. The attack on 9/11 was supposed to be a Holy war against the United States.

Islam is a peaceful religion

In actuality in Islam, it is never permissible to attack or kill non-combatant enemy citizens, children, elderly, or women.  Non-Muslims not waging war against Muslims possess a right to life, according to the Quran.  In fact, the Quran enjoins forgiveness, tolerance, and kindness toward Non-Muslims.   Abu Bakr one the closest people to the prophet Muhammad said “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the war booty, and do not be cowardly.” Christians during the crusades never showed such mercy, as was shown by Muslims at this time.

Al Qaeda is an extremist terrorist group that does not represent Islam

Terrorism is not synonymous with Islam, thought mainstream media leads many to think this!

The attacks on September 11th as well as other attacks around the world by these terror groups go completely against the whole nature of Islam. A Jihad is against someone attacking you, not innocent people. As a result Islam and the people following this beautiful faith have faced many hate crimes and prejudice in the United and other countries. Hundreds of people have been attacked in the United States for just being Muslim. Al-Qaeda and extremists like them have tainted the image of Islam to people who are not educated on the religion. People become afraid when a see someone who appears to be Muslim because they associate it with terrorism. There are many who think Islam is a religion of hate, when in fact it is a religion of peace and love. Imagine if the news channels focused on the beauty of Islam, do you think there would be as much hate! Imagine instead of hearing “Islamic terrorist” on the news every week, we instead  hear Islamic volunteers/Islamic doctors/Islamic charities! Why shine the media light only on a very small group of extremists and cause mass panic and fear of the entire Islamic population! What the media has done is absolutely criminal.

This problem affects all religions. I am a proud Christian. I faithfully believe in Christ!  Sadly there are times I am embarrassed by people claiming to be Christians. There is a disgusting group in the United States called the Westboro Baptist Church. Who dedicates its time and resources to harassing people who are gay or follow another faith. They pretty much attack anyone that is not like them. They are known for protesting at funerals of homosexual individuals and military members. They are known for holding up disgusting signs often claiming that people are going to hell. Other signs say that God caused hurricane Katrina and September 11th because of the United States liberal laws on gay rights. The Westboro group is the most extreme, but I have been to church after church with people that share that same hate. That same feeling of judgment and superiority.  Jesus preached love. Jesus preached acceptance and forgiveness. Jesus ate with prostitutes and talked with non-believers. Jesus even forgave the people that brutally killed him. He loved and forgave everyone! You would have never seen Jesus hold a sign saying  “ all fags must die”! This is not like Christ! And yet these people call themselves Christians! This is what makes me mad. Be hateful if you want, but do not claim to be Christian while doing it. In my heart I know that Jesus would be enraged over what these groups do. Just as Jesus was enraged and turned over the tables of the merchants corrupting the temple by using it as a place of commerce. I can imagine him being angered over these hateful people using his name for evil!

Westboro Baptist church known for their hateful messages and protesting funerals.

These hate groups and these churches full of judgment do not represent Jesus or Christianity. These people pick and choose scripture to fit the message they want to send. They quote Leviticus for anti-homosexual passages that condemn a man that lays with a man to death, but then ignores other passages.  There are tons of passages most people do not follow. For example no round haircuts or bull cuts “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.”( Leviticus 19:27 ) , but I see plenty of kids with this haircut. The bible prohibits wearing fabric blends or polyesters “nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (Leviticus 19:19). The biggest and most clear issue that is often ignored is divorce! Jesus spells that one out in black and white and yet over half of marriages in the USA end in divorce! ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.'”

Jesus was full of love not hate for others

Imagine a world where people stopped judging each other and instead forgive. Imagine a world where we bring people together instead of ostracizing those that are different! Imagine a world where everyone who claimed to be Christian actually emulated Christ!

Women are supposed to be equal to men in Sikhism

My husband is a Sikh. Sikhs fundamentally believe in equality of all people, religions, ethnicities, and gender. Sadly there are many Sikhs who tie the turban but do not live the teachings of the Gurus. Instead they point fingers at people who cut their hair and do not tie turbans saying those people have lost their faith . I have seen these people go against everything else that Sikhism stand for. I have seen these “Sikhs” that tie turbans who are cruel to other people. Who looks down at their servants and treat them badly even though the gurus explained that we all equal under God.

One of the biggest issues I have is when Sikhs ignore the basic principles of women being equal to men. When I found out I was pregnant with a girl I had been told by a baptized “Sikh” that my daughter was a curse. They said that they prayed I would have a boy next. Sadly in many Sikh families girls are not valued in many households. True Sikhs value both men and women equally and not prefer one over the other. One of the worse issues to plagues India, especially Punjab is the occurrences of femicide. This is when the gender of the fetus is identified through ultra sound and then aborted if the child if is female. As a result ultrasounds to determine gender is illegal in India. Sadly this has not stopped people from bribing Drs. sto still find out the gender.

Declining number of female born in Punjab since the invention of ultrasound machines for determining gender. Femicide is greatly reducing the number of women in Punjab.

Most femicide goes unreported for obvious reasons, so statistics are hard to get.  Male to female birth ratios are the best indicators of gender based abortion rates.  The ratio of boy vs. girl babies born is growing in India, especially in the state of Punjab. Naturally in the world there is slightly more boys born than girls born every year. Around 104 boys are born vs. 100 girls born each year, this is without gender manipulations. In  2012 in Punjab 117 boys per 100 girls were born. This may not seem like a lot of difference. There 27.98 million people in the Indian State of Punjab alone. 54,000 children are born every year in Punjab.  If you compare the normal gender ratio that occurs in nature, versus the gender ratio that occurs in Punjab due to gender based abortions you really see the effects.  I found the results to be disgusting and heart breaking. Approximately 15,858 baby girls are aborted every year in Punjab simply because they are female! That is 43 baby girls that are killed every day in Punjab! This is just in the state of Punjab and not the entire country! Punjab is the birth place of Sikhism, and yet this place has so much senseless killing! Its disgusting to me! This goes against everything Sikhism stands for! Imagine how the Gurus would respond to this sickening trend!

There are many Sikhs that follow the religion as they should. These people are beautiful wonderful godly people. Sadly there are some that claim to be Sikh and commit these horrible acts. There is more to Sikhism than tying a turban. Sikhism is one of the most beautiful religions I have ever encountered. Imagine a world where the dreams of the gurus come true. Where all people are treated equal! Where all people are safe from violence and fear. Imagine a world where all Sikhs aimed to be Sikhs in their appearances, actions,  and thoughts!

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, first Guru

John Lennon thought that the world would be better without religion, but I disagree.  I think religion is beautiful. It inspires, it gives people purpose, and it drives people to do good acts.  I could not live my life without my faith. I would feel lost without God in my life! My dream is for the world to see the beauty of their religion and to fully understand it.  I dream of the day when people see the beauty of other people’s religions. For people to see the similarities more than the difference. For the media to show the beauty of all the religions instead of the hate!

Imagine a world where everyone follows their religion, instead of pretending to do so and just claiming it like a title.  What would the world look like? I imagine a beautiful place where we all live in peace. As the late John Lennon said,

“You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one”

That Naughty Eight Letter Word: Feminist

Feminist Movement Symbol

I am a proud self-proclaimed feminist. I believe in promoting women’s rights. I believe women should receive equal pay for equal work.  I believe that the media over sexualizes women for the purpose of creating an unattainable image. That image sells loads of hand bags, exercise equipment, clothes, makeup, diet pills, and so forth. As a feminist I am not trying to feminize men.  I am happily married to a very masculine Indian man from a traditional background. I am not trying to get more power than a man, nor do I have an agenda to dominate over men.

I simply want women to have the same opportunities that men have in this world. I want my daughter to live in a world where women are seen as equals. I want her to feel safe from the fear of rape and domestic violence. I want her to be able to define her own identity without being told that she is stepping outside of her gender role. A world where she can be as “feminine” or “masculine” as she chooses, without the judgment of others.

The common misconception that feminism is anti-men

Recently I was talking to a good friend of mine and discussing a social topic related to women. I told her that I was a feminist. She looked at me shocked like I had said a naughty word. “Really??” She asked in a very surprised tone. I responded “ Yes I believe in advocating for the rights of women, don’t you?” She responded and said “Well of course, but I am not a feminist”. I said “A feminist stands for promoting the rights of women, so in reality you are a feminist”.  She responded “But feminists are so extreme; I would not want people to think those things about me”. This response to feminism is not uncommon; I have met many women that are afraid to call themselves feminists, because of the image associated with the term.

Untitled

I search feminist on Google images and ” angry” sub category came up

Sadly the feminist movement has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Quit honestly many people hear the word feminist and think of a bunch of men hating, bra burning, angry women. Feminists are seen as women that reject their gender. A woman that hates and judges stay at home moms or women that are models, or women that cover their heads for religious reasons. They are seen as women that complain and claim sexism to get special favors or preference. They are also seen as women who don’t get married or have kids. A feminist does not have long hair or wear dresses. A feminist hates men. Feminist has become a naughty word. If you Google feminist under the image search option one of the sub choices is “angry”. There you have it Google has answered one of life’s questions, feminist has become synonymous with “angry”.

Much of the negativity towards feminism has been perpetuated by the opponents of the movement. There are some people who are very concerned that the role of women is changing. These people work tirelessly to combat the movement and impede progress. The idea of women being equal scares some people.  Change often elicits this kind fear in some individuals. Think about all the violence that occurred during the civil rights movement when people of color were working towards equality.

Feminism means that my little girl like in this picture can be a mommy, a Doctor, a cook, and be happy doing it all.

The media seems to only focus their coverage on the extreme side of the feminist movement thus making us all look angry and irrational. The media also shines the spotlight on women who are judging other women. I have seen several articles where “feminist” are judging stay at home moms and women that are models, saying that these women are not being supportive to the movement, and that they are selling out. The reality is that most feminist do not have these extreme feelings and views. The feminist movement is for the betterment of all women. So that each woman can choose what she wants to do, or how to dress, or where to work? So that she does not have obstacles in her way. So that she has choices in life! That is what Feminism means! Choices! Freedom! Equality! And love for all People!

More men and women need to stand up and be proud to be a feminist. It is not a naughty word! It is a word that represents a beautiful movement.  Do not be ashamed. We must be united to achieve our goals or divided we fail.  If we allow the feminist movement to be shamed and marginalized, the goals I mentioned before will never be achieved.

 So I ask my readers:

1. Are you feminist?

2. Why ? 

I am a feminist!

Globalization Article #1: Cash Crops, Cruelty, Malnutrition, and Rising Food Costs

For today’s post I am writing about something very important to me. I warn you it will not be the light topics I typically write for this blog. I plan on writing a series of posts on the topic of globalization. Globalization has had and continues to have countless consequences on many different aspects of our lives. It is generally a contentious topic that has its fair share of people debating its effects. There are people who adamantly support it, citing its positive effects on global trade and international relations between countries. There are many that are vehemently opposed to globalization arguing that it hurts our domestic economy and prays on the emerging economies of developing nations.  In my series of essays I will attempt to stay objective and present both sides of the argument supported by facts, but I warn you I do have a strong opinion on the issue and it will become very evident when you read my articles. I am not an absolutist though, so I believe there are aspects of globalization that are positive but there are some effects of the globalization movement that I find to be completely criminal.

Today’s post will focus on globalization’s effect on local farming, food supply, food costs, and the increased rates of malnutrition in areas effected by cash crops.

Once upon a time, not so long ago farmers in a community grew and produced food to be sold in that community. This typing of model is known as subsistence farming.  If that communities’ staple food was rice, then the farmers grew rice. If the people ate potatoes and corn then that was also grown in the community, for the community. The food was typically sold at local markets or in a local store. By buying from the local farmers you supported these families in the community. Prices were generally low because there was a good supply and it did not have to transported far. The farmers had guaranteed customers in the community and the community had guaranteed food. The negative side of local farming if you were limited by your climate and season for food. This meant that you did not get oranges in winter and if you didn’t live in the tropics then you may never have tasted a pineapple or coconut.

The invention of ships, trains, and automobiles allowed food to be shipped further distances. Suddenly there was a wider variety of food available to people who had the money to purchase it. These expensive imported foods and spices supplemented the food supplied by local farmers, but locally grown food was still the main staple of most people’s diets. The invention and wide use of airplanes changed this dynamic forever. Suddenly food and other products could be quickly transported thousands of miles away and sold at higher prices.  In the 1990’s with advent of the internet, decreasing costs of flights, low cost of international calling, and the creation of World Trade Organization ( WTO) in 1995, Globalization was now in full swing. The United States and other members of the WTO were all required to dismember domestic protectionist policies and tariffs in order to encourage open free trade between all nations. These factors have led to where we are now in 2013. You may not know all the facts and politics, but the reality is that globalization affects all of our lives every single day. Your cup of coffee in the morning (Columbia), the clothes we wear (china), the car we drive to work (many components of even domestic cars are made in Japan and china), the fact that many of our jobs have changed because of the shift of manufacturing to other countries with cheaper wages and less regulation. The tomatoes in your salad during lunch ( chile), your Pina cola smoothie with pineapple (Philippines) and coconut (brazil).  Without even knowing it, our daily routines can have monumental effects on people’s lives thousands of miles away. Our consumption of a product can define and affect an entire group of people’s lives.

Globalization, free trade, and the growth of multi-national companies that control the vast majority of farming have changed the paradigm of food production around the world.  Subsistence farming has become a thing of the past and cash crops are now destroying the biodiversity and food supplies of many areas. Farms that once grew an assortment of different foods for its local communities are now producing one specific high profit crop that is exported out of the area to places around the world that will pay higher prices. Some of the popular cash crops are cotton, pineapple, coconuts, coffee, grains, sugar cane and many others.  In response to changing international markets many independent local farmers choose to convert their normal vegetable crops to a more profitable crop.

I have seen the effect of this type of cash cropping personally. I was born and raised in Sonoma County, California. One hour north of San Francisco. Sonoma/Napa is one of the leading areas for wine making in the country, and produces wine that wins awards all over the world. If you go to the countryside you will see vineyard after vineyard for as far as the eye can see. Our little area has become famous for our superb wines. The wine industry brings tourism to the area and has created jobs at the wineries, shipping centers, tasting rooms, hotels, restaurants, and the list goes on. There is one major downside to Sonoma /Napa’s success; wine grapes are replacing vegetable and edible fruit gardens and farms. I love wine, but you can’t live on it.

Vegetable crops harvested from local farms have decreased by about 850 acres, or 50% of the total acreage between 1997 and 2000. One of the hardest hit industries is apples. I went to High School in the town of Sebastopol. Apple farms used to be an important part of that community. The local elementary school that my siblings went to was called Apple Blossom Elementary. Every year the town of Sebastopol has a wonderful parade called the Apple Blossom Parade.  Everything about the town used to be centered on the apple industry. As the wine industry got popular the apple orchards have slowly been replaced by vineyards. At one time more than 13,000 acres of apple orchards blanketed Sebastopol’s countryside. Today less than 3,000 acres of apple farms remain.  I understand why the farmers convert their crops from apples to wine grapes. The honest truth is you make a lot more money selling wine grapes than apples or vegetables. A farmer selling one ton of Sonoma County grapes will make $2,000 on average, while a farmer selling apples only gets $120 per ton. Food production in Sonoma County is dwindling and as a result we have to import food from other counties, states and even other countries to feed the people locally.  I find it both sad and ironic that two-thirds of the U.S. apple juice supply now comes from China! We stopped growing the food locally and now we have to import it from across the world. Imagine the fuel that is spent shipping food from China to the USA! Not to mention the fact that when food is grown and processed in another country the US people have no say in the regulations that govern everything from food hygiene, pesticides, genetic modifications or anything else associated with that food. The thought of pouring my daughter a glass of apple juice produced across the world under un-known conditions makes me ill. Overall 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, including 50 percent of fresh fruits, 20 percent of fresh vegetables and 80 percent of seafood.

 

High profit cash crops effects people in developing nations to a higher degree than those effected in the United States. The example I provided about Sonoma County’s dwindling vegetable and fruit crops does pose a problem to the people, but in most cases people will not go hungry because of it. We are a wealthy nation and food can be imported in when an area stops producing it. This is not the case for many places in the developing world. There are many people that go hungry because food production stops in favor of higher paying cash crops that do not go to feed the people.

In my introduction earlier I stated that there are some aspects of globalization that I find to be completely criminal. The business practices of the American fruit companies Dole and Chaquita are absolutely disgusting. They manipulate and use other countries to make a profit, even at the costs of lives. Historically they have preyed on developing nations in South America and use money and influence to bribe or manipulate these poor governments. Many Latin American countries have privatized previously public land that was farmed by locals for food. This land was then leased or sold to US-based multinational corporations. This completely destroyed these people’s basic ability to farm and feed themselves. These companies use the land to cultivate bananas for export.  The locals are hired as low wage laborers. The company exports the produce to higher paying developed countries like the United States and Canada.  Lack of local food and poor wages makes eating more difficult for the local people. The bananas are sold at a price competitive in the developed world, but unattainable to poor locals. Unlike the United States were food is easily imported in, remote areas of South America do not get such imports. People actually starve in an area where thousands of tons of food are produced. In the past resistance to this privatization was often met with brutal repression, including kidnapping, torture, and murder. Not to mention the countless substantiated accusations of death, illness, and infertility cause by the pesticides and chemicals used on these fruits. The governments of these people are bought by the rich companies, so in reality there is no one to protect the locals. Similar tragedies occur in the coffee, cotton, sugar cane as well as many other industries in regions of South America, Africa, and Asia.

Cash cropping aided by free trade and globalization is destroying the lives of thousands of people in the developing world and is leading to countless cases of malnutrition and even starvation. In a recent report from the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) it found that the price of food has increased 45% since 2006, while wages in these countries have remained the same. Entire countries are being affected by higher food costs caused by the dwindling local supplies of food. In many areas families are only able to buy 50% of the food they had in the past. Imagine only buying 50% of what your family eats now. 

So I am going to ask you an honest and straightforward question.  Is your morning cup of coffee worth the suffering of thousands of people? Is your ability to eat oranges in December worth the life of a family? Do you feel comfortable knowing that the banana you feed your children is tainted by such cruelty? The truth is I don’t feel comfortable with any of this! I feel disgusted and sick researching the topic. This is why I wrote this piece. I think most of us take for granted the effects of globalization on the world. We personally see the availability of food in our stores and restaurants without thinking about where that food came from, or what effect it had on other people.  Sadly I don’t have a complete solution to give to my readers, all I can say is stay informed. Buy local when possible. Look for the fair trade seal. Research the companies you support with your money. Speak out in any way you can. I personally love bananas, coffee, coconuts, pineapple and so many other things that are not produced where I live, but I will not support a company that puts profit before human life. If that means forgoing those foods, then so be it.

I personally believe The United State’s government needs to do more to keep companies like Dole and Chiquita accountable to basic human rights. Just because a company is working outside of The United States, does not make those people affected any less human. If The United States does not require its companies to be ethical and humane abroad then as a nation is has no right to intervene or even comment on other country’s cruelties or human rights issues. People in developed nations need to realize how our consumption affects people around the world. How does it make you feel to learn that someone may be hurting or hungry so that your family may have a wide variety of foods to choose from? I ask one more time. Is it worth it?!