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Dear Bella,

Something I truly hope that will be completely restructured by the time you are reading this is the food systems sector, and agriculture.

Food insecurity is a major problem in the U.S and we often deem communities with improper access to food as “food deserts”, but I have found that the term food apartheid invokes so much more meaning, given that apartheid covers the ways in which lack of access to healthy food and how it is systematic. I learned that this term highlights how grocery stores pick specific locations based on the zip codes and socioeconomic status of a neighborhood and it also accounts for public transportation and accessibility. It is also vital for us to move away from our current Cornucopian way of thinking: that we can invent ourselves out of our environmental crises. It really is crucial to heed indigenous knowledge regarding rebuilding local food systems. For Indigenous peoples, their knowledge and culture have always required not just to coexist with their environment, but to be firmly rooted in it. Indigenous knowledge has continuously served as a guide for understanding nature and living comfortably within it especially regarding feeding oneself. Natives live is in conjunction with the plants and the rocks and the mountains, not separate from or superior to them. It is also important for me to note here, though, that Natives do not ‘love’ nature. This is because nature is not an abstraction in the eyes of Indigenous knowledge. Indigenous Peoples love the land and the place in which they exist. It is an individual tree, creek, or rock that is loved, they cannot be clustered together as one entity. One must understand the land in which they are on to fully be able to live within its extremities, creating them a more knowledgeable and moral person. This knowledge is critical when creating a more just food system and in addressing our environmental crises.

I really hope to see that we become connected to the earth and soil in which our food is fostered. Not only do we have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero, but we also have to mitigate the greenhouse gasses that are already in the air. Agriculture has played a major role in the climate crisis, but farmers are particularly situated to be part of the solution. The answer to many of our human-caused climate change problems is right below our feet. If enough farmers adopted regenerative farming practices, stop using synthetic fertilizers and tilling, they could begin to reverse the effects of climate change. By restoring degraded soils and adopting soil conservation practices, there is major potential to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases from agriculture, enhance carbon sequestration, and build resilience to climate change.

With the right tools, we have the ability to be able to not just survive but thrive. We just need the people in power to make the right decisions.

Sidenote: I hope that you are making good decisions, Bella. I hope you have a job that fulfills your passion for life and doesn’t bog you down. I hope you have a wonderful partner who makes cooking and cleaning fun, one who wants to go to parks and hikes and walks and to go camping. I hope you and Luca are still close and I hope Otis is still alive.

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