Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jeremy Seifert - Clemson University

The latest update from Jeremy Seifert, currently touring his film GMO OMG:

The small theater at Clemson University, which seats 150, was nearly full last night! Albeit, many of the students in attendance had been bribed by their teachers with extra credit or were lured by the free Chipotle meal card. But still, it was a great crowd, and I could tell from the questions that many of them had never heard of GMOs and didn't quite know what to make of this "new" world that had just been revealed. For many of them I got the feeling that, before the film, food was just food, something you judged on flavor or cost or how it made you feel, certainly not representative of a system that exists behind our food and how it effects the planet.

And for many, the thrust of culture surrounding them, the exclusive relationship the university has with ARAMARK Corporation, the general lack of other options and the inability to fully connect eating with ethics and justice and future sustainability, means that no practical change will happen in their least not immediately. But as I said to them, now you know and you can't unlearn or it, or even fully forget it. And I know for at least some of them, a seed has been planted and will grow into real change.

I think it's fitting here to give an example of how big the challenge is to get out messages that matter.
As I mentioned the small theater on campus was quite full, over 100 people. What I didn't mention is that Clemson University has a student population of 20,000, which means that less than .05% of them came. Statistically, those are probably really good numbers. But the point of this digression is a comparison to another number and event, the Clemson Tigers vs. the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Today, November 14th, is game day. Morning classes are supposed to be in session, but most have been canceled anyway. From noon on, all classes on campus are officially canceled. The town turns into a bustling madhouse of football fans. The stadium, called Death Valley, will be packed with 92,000 people, who will sit and eat and cheer through nearly three hours of game time. They will pay exorbitant prices for junk food served up by ARAMARK. Students waving and cheering for a touchdown or explosive tackle are captive consumers on campus, with no choice but to lap up the biotech industry's GMOs and chemicals. That sounds dramatic or overblown, but it's a simple reality, and most of us eat it everyday unawares. It's time to pack out stadiums for our right to know and choose what we eat, for our farmers and land and water and seed. The stakes are high, much higher than a Tigers game, but can we recognize it and act?

The organic farm on Clemson's campus is 1/100th the size of the practice fields devoted to the Tigers. Perhaps this gross imbalance is precisely why we have lost control of our food and given it, without a fight, to giant chemical companies. But still, there is an organic farm on there is hope.