By Russell Libby
The ice storm of January gave us all some time to reflect while doing the more traditional chores of hauling wood and water and dealing with the damage from falling trees. I was very thankful for our neighbors, since we were all able to pitch in together and tackle various problems. One had a hand pump we hooked up to our old dug well for livestock water. Another had an old gas oven so that we could bake when we needed. The first to go for a generator helped the neighborhood catch up a little on laundry. And we were able to go to friends for fresh milk and drinking water.
Unfortunately, that ability, or maybe willingness, to trust in neighbors and friends seems to be lost as we move further from our day to day contacts. When the National Organic Standards were released in December, it was clear that Agriculture Secretary Glickman is operating from a world view so far removed from the typical organic farmer in Maine that it’s hard to see how the gap could be bridged. He spoke of the standards as a step forward in increasing international commerce, something that in many ways is the opposite of the kind of food system we’ve been working on for the past 25 years.
Glickman’s perspective is the same as those who are even now trying to find ways to make countries around the world conform to “international monetary standards” and follow the dictates of the World Trade Organization and Codex, the UN agency that standardizes any number of products for international trade and is trying to do the same with herbal medicines and organic foods.
Eventually we, like the rest of you, returned to the modern world, but only after a call from our neighbor who said CMP was wondering why no one on the road had any lights on after the power had been turned back on. All of us had pulled the main switches on our fuse boxes and had grown comfortable with candlelight and hauling water. We were plugged back into the modern world, but if the modern world requires us to give up the foundation of our daily lives, trust, I’m not sure exactly what’s been gained.