Vandana Shiva on How We The Rich World Can Stop Hurting the Poor World

Sharon November 11th, 2009

I really recommend this video, in which Vandana Shiva articulates how people in the Global North can relieve some of the tremendous ecological pressure on people in the Global South. It is couched in the context of Transition Initiatives, but can just as easily apply to neighborhood or personal level actions.

Generally speaking, if we want to reduce pressure on the world’s poor, these are my recommendations, which I think dovetail with Shivas.  The reality is that if we don’t do these things, people *DIE* - and we are in part responsible for their deaths.  So this should be an imperative.

Do not buy or eat any industrial meat - period.  Grain-fed meat raises the price of commodities in the poor world.  Either give up meat or eat only grass-fed meat.

Do not support biofuel production from foodstuffs or on land that is suitable for growing human crops.

Purchase high value, dry shipped luxury goods like spices, coffee, tea, etc… *only* when certified fair trade and grown in responsible ways (ie, shade grown coffee, etc…) 

Don’t buy imported produce.  Shift your diet to eat what’s available in your locality.  Remember, flying produce around the world is using planes to transport water, effectively.  That’s nuts on a whole host of levels.

Begin shifting your “shadow acres” of imported foods, resources and goods to your own locality - buy local when possible, even if it means buying less.  If you can’t produce something in your area, look for substitutes and work to establish local manufacture and production. 


19 Responses to “Vandana Shiva on How We The Rich World Can Stop Hurting the Poor World”

  1. Clare says:

    Ach, we can’t grow rice or durum wheat for pasta in the UK. I will miss them.

  2. Our most important task - Vandana Shiva (video) « Ukiah Blog Live says:

    [...] Also see Sharon Astyk’s Comments→ [...]

  3. emeeathome says:

    I am always gobsmacked when I see cherries and/or grapes in the supermarket in the middle of winter - imported from the U S of A. And I blush to admit, I’m inclined to stare at the people buying them. I cant approach and tell them what they’re doing - I would be just end up jibbering with amazement.

  4. Sharon says:

    Clare, dry goods transported by ship and or largely overland by train are somewhat of a different story than air freighted wet things, so it may not be necessary to give them up entirely if you can find a European supplier.


  5. Jen says:

    I was thrilled to find a source of tea and rice here in SC recently. I can also get wheat, but not organic:( We currently buy only local meat, dairy, produce except bananas and apples and pears. My kids love these fruits and until our pear and apples trees start producing I will have to make this exception. At least they are from Washington because for some reason we don’t get NY apples here and NC/SC are all sprayed.

  6. Kate says:

    Sharon-does “industrial meat” include industrial dairy and eggs? If not, why not? Thanks for any insight!

  7. Anonymous says:


    Why not rice from Camargue, France, or Italy? Pasta from Italy?

  8. Throwback at Trapper Creek says:

    I think people need to understand that eating grass fed meat will mean eating true ruminants that can thrive on only grass and forbs, and not the more PC poultry that we have become accustomed to.

    Good rules to live by. Thanks for the link.

  9. Sharon says:

    Yes, I should have said “industrial animal products” and included milk and eggs.

    And yes, eating ethical meat will usually involve either ruminants or different poultry - if we care about the roast bird, we’d probably be best off with geese, which can live wholly on pasture. And given the waste in our system, raising poultry on scraps has a lot of promise. But yes, generally speaking, we’re talking about a shift to ruminants, as you point out.


  10. Anna says:

    One of the things my beloved and I have decided is that, given our level of income and privilege, if we can’t afford a foodstuff that’s organic, we can’t afford it at all.

    It’s not like we’ll starve . . . it just means giving up other things (or eating something other than what we planned), but it also means that the 17 000 square km dead zone in the ocean off the outflow of the Mississippi won’t get any bigger on our account. And if the oceans die, then we all die.

    That said, for the moment at least, we’re acutely aware that not everyone is in an economic position to make these kinds of self-imposed ultimatums (ultimati?)-which means it’s even more important that those of us who *can*, *do*. From those to whom much is given, much is expected . . .

  11. Clare says:

    I guess I don’t really think of France or Italy as my locality, but I shall keep my eyes peeled for European rice, thanks for the suggestion. Pasta in the UK is mostly made from Italian durum wheat, anyway.
    And I shall eat more potatoes!

  12. Kate says:

    Very good advice from many. I have been eating organic food for 12 years and ate it before it became something else because I am old enough to remember those times. The food is excellent and doesn’t need mankind’s assistance. I only knew two people with cancer before i was 20. Then they started dropping like flies. Perhaps there is a connection?

  13. Sue in pacNW says:

    From those to whom much is given, much is expected . .

    Thank you Anna, beautifully said.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Shift your diet to eat what’s available in your locality”
    How do you define YOUR locality, I mean which distance around your home is your locality?
    If my locality was defined by a radius of 50 miles around my home, I would be eating only heavily pesticide sprayed wheat, maize and canola, cause that’s the only foodstuff grown in my “locality”….a true recipe for starving (even before pesticide induced cancer could strike)

  15. NM says:

    I was very sorry to learn that there’s a considerable debate going on about fair trade certified tea; apparently Fair Trade decided to let in large tea plantations, and some are alleging that workers on those plantations are not seeing improved conditions or pay — some are actually suffering more. Equal Exchange is among the critics.
    Equal Exchange offers its own certified teas, however, that it says come closer to meeting the goals of being sustainable and socially responsible. Note they don’t say meet them entirely.
    Still trying to decide what to think about Celestial Seasonings, which produces some of my favorite teas, certified by nobody, but claims to practice “ethical trade” by working with small farmers on its own.

  16. How the Rich Can Stop Hurting the Poor « The Jizo Chronicles says:

    [...] the Rich Can Stop Hurting the Poor: Sharon Astyk adds her own recommendations to the Transition Initiative’s recommendations, in an interview with Vandana Shiva,  to help [...]

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  18. fieldrunners hd says:

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