Title: WHO DO YOU EAT?
Text: Linda Weintraub
Illustrator: Philip McCulloch-Downs
For the first time in the history of humanity, children can eat without engaging with sources of the food they ingest. Preparing soil, planting seeds, tending sprouts, cultivating growth, warding off pests, and harvesting fruit and vegetables are alien to most of today’s children, as are participating in animal conception, pregnancy, birth, growth, slaughtering, and butchering. Instead, encounters with foods typically originate after portions are carved into geometric shapes and wrapped in tidy packages that do not approximate the life forms that provided these foods, or the conditions of how and where it grew. WHO DO YOU EAT? delivers this essential message utilizing three literary strategies: story-telling, humor, and rhyme. A shift in pronouns provides the fourth. This book’s linguistic reform focuses on differentiating ‘self’ from ‘other’, as in ‘me’ and ‘mine’ as opposed to ‘we’ and ‘ours’. Pronouns indicate relationships and attitudes. Pronouns shape connections and separations. Pronouns erect affiliations and estrangements. Pronouns establish alignments and boundaries. Pronouns matter with regard to eating, because eating physically connects humans to the non-human domain populated by plants, animals, insects, fish, fowl, fruits, and fungi. Referring to foods as ‘it’ thwarts awareness of our inter-species dependencies. By referring to all foods as ‘who’, individuals rejoin the community of species that inhabit planet Earth. The pronoun ‘who’ fosters respect, compassion, and concern. It is fundamental to stewardship of Earth’s resources.
this book contributes to the burgeoning environmental education movement and the demand for environmental teaching tools targeted at 5 – 10-year-olds.
Exhibition title: BEYOND DEATH: From Perishing to Flourishing
Despite a culturally entrenched conviction that ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ are opposites, ecologically they do not constitute a dichotomy. These states of being are equally engaged in, and essential to, the dynamic energy interchanges among air, water, sunshine, rocks, and soil that enable life on Earth.
The proposed exhibition assembles artists who present death as a complement to life, and decomposition as a corollary to growth. These artists focus on the physical remains of the deceased animal, plant, microbe, or human because it is within the material realm that the revitalizing functions of death transpire. The exhibited works of art demonstrate that it is an affront to Earth’s sublime and intricate balance that we deride one half of the equation that perpetuates life. The shift in attitude is conveyed by purging the cultural prejudices against decay that is evident in wood preservatives, food stabilizers, rust retardants, Botox injections, cryogenics, and fluoride treatments. By focusing on its life-enhancing functions, they transform attitudes about putrefaction from the ‘abject’ into the ‘exalted ‘. This mission also vitalizes the practice of contemporary art. Replacing repugnance of the post-death scenarios with appreciation introduces more than a new art theme. The eco artists assembled for the proposed on-line exhibition also reconfigure art’s material components by presenting decay as a reassuring sign of health, resilience, and vitality. Through their work death earns the respectful salutation typically accorded to life.
It makes no sense to say that I am a ‘homer’ who practices ‘homing’ because ‘home’ is the place where I reside. However, it is perfectly reasonable to say that living on a ‘homestead’ means that ‘homesteading’ is my daily practice, and that I am a ‘homesteader’. The companionship among this noun, adverb, and verb reveals the holistic convergence that is the hallmark of homesteading – the unification of site, lifestyle, and identity and their numerous components – pragmatics, morality, aesthetics, pleasure, devotion, sensuality, and gratification.
Recent events have made me acutely aware of this glorious convergence. My twenty-year immersion in a homesteading lifestyle has been suspended while I relocate. I am, once again, making the acquaintance of new neighbors – microbial, fungal, floral, arboreal, aquatic, ornithological, and mammalian. As adapters and strategists, traditionalists and innovators, protectors and survivors, they all excel at the art of homesteading in this region. Each form of life models a conduct for assuring its own survival by augmenting, not depleting, the vitality of the homestead. I trust that they, and a few remarkable humans who live nearby, will guide my resettlement.
I am a newcomer. Newcomers cannot expect open invitations to join a multi-species community. It is through homesteading that I may earn membership.