Control The Food And You Control The People

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
-Henry Kissinger

Politicians and warmongers know it. Activists who go on hunger strikes know it. Controlling food is an effective means to manipulate people. In wartime, aggressors attempt to cut off their enemies supply lines – starve out the enemy and perhaps they’ll simply surrender.

Well, there is a more surreptitious war going on within our own country, and it concerns our food. Who are the aggressors? Multi-billion dollar corporations in collusion with government agencies where they have easily managed to place toadies who insure that policy favors their true masters. Watch documentaries like Food Inc, The Future of Food, Farmageddon; read books from Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, and Marion Nestle and you’ll see specific examples of how this has happened and continues to shape food policy in our nation. Do you want the same company that brought us DDT and Agent Orange deciding what kind of food should be available to you and your family? Well, too bad if you don’t, because they already are. Monsanto and other mega corporations have a tight grip on the FDA and USDA, many of our legislatures, and the agricultural departments of many of the land-grant universities.

It is terribly overwhelming for those of us who have educated ourselves about many of the issues with genetic modification of our food to know how to fight back. After all, most of us simply do not have the funding that these mega corporations do. Monsanto, for instance, has a team of ex-military commandos as who patrol the country to inspect farmers and then  enforce the company’s will. Because they have well-placed officials guarding their interests with the government, such as the FDA’s Michael Taylor (former chief lobbyist for Monsanto) they are able to get away with atrocities against small farmers, and ultimately, all of us. Monsanto has modified their seeds so that they are dependent upon their herbicide Round-Up to grow, and so that the seeds terminate after one generation. You must go back to Monsanto year after year to get more seed, and cannot save seed. Even if you do, it won’t grow properly. But the seed is only neutered in that regard – it will, in fact, infect neighboring fields with its genetic material, so that those “friendly inspectors” I mentioned earlier can show up on a farm and accuse them of patent infringement. Many family farms have been hurt because of this tactic. And it is, make no mistake, a strategy on their part. After all, it insures their growth – like the 77% increase in profits reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. That funds a huge legal department that is aggressive in its pursuit of anyone who does not kneel before Monsanto, which fancies itself a sort of feudal lord.

So what do we do?

Well, what we can do best – act locally. Grow some of your own food. Buy heirloom seeds ( and plant them, even if you can only do container gardening on a balcony. And save the new seeds created when you grow those vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Share them. Protect them. They are under attack.

So, what happens when you do just that, and your local government decides to punish you for it? “That would never happen,” you say, “why would any municipality get upset over one of its citizens trying to do something positive in the community?”

Well, that’s what the city of Oak Park, Michigan is doing. There is a resident family who have chosen to plant a vegetable garden, instead of wasting their front lawn on grass. And now they are facing court action and possible jail time for daring to reject having grass lawn. You know, the stuff that let’s face it, is not sustainable, and its history isn’t exactly something to be celebrated. As the book Food Not Lawns points out:

“French aristocrats popularized the idea of the green, grassy lawns in the eighteenth century when they planted the agricultural fields around their estates to grass to send the message that they had more land than they needed and could therefore afford to waste some. Meanwhile French peasants starved for lack of available farmland, and the resulting frustration might well have had something to do with the French Revolution in 1789. (p. 12)”

If Monty Python And The Holy Grail has taught us anything at all, it should be to know better than to accept advice from the French Aristocracy.

These days, in the U.S., the roles have reversed somewhat. We “peasants” are encouraged to grow lawns and let the “aristocrats” grow the food, because the leaders must have learned something from the French Revolution – it’s better for them to control our food under lock and key while keeping the peasants mollified with other distractions. Also,  so long as the aristocrats are in charge of food, why not make changes to it that will create even more dependence, like controlling seed availability and distribution so that it is only given to those who bow before the masters who hold the seeds year after year?

But – there is hope. The situation in Oak Park is one that local folk can fight face-to-face. Maybe the officials in Oak Park don’t see the bigger picture, and providing them with information that helps them to see that they are really not pursuing what can be described as the best interests of their citizenry will change their minds. I mean, let’s face it, growing up in the age of the “Little Houses” that Malvina Reynolds wrote about, it is easy to simply not think for one’s self about why you wouldn’t want to have a grass lawn, but the world in which that idea of suburbia was created no longer exists. Food shortages are already occurring, and predictions are that they will only get worse. We are dealing with oil shortages, whether real or manufactured – but what’s the difference when your gasoline costs $4+ a gallon? That means it’s more expensive to go and get food from the store, as well as the cost of the food having gone up because of the petroleum products that went into growing, packaging, and transporting it. People have been especially hard-hit by unemployment in Michigan, and while there are “improved” numbers, most people aren’t dealing with a surplus of income these days, so their food budgets are tight. I know ours is!

So why in the world would local officials want to discourage local gardens? Surely they recognize the issues described in the previous paragraph, in addition to the weaknesses within the corporate food system – and if they do not, then it is their responsibility to educate themselves in order to best serve their citizens. How can they responsibly suggest that they have the authority to determine food policy in their community if they don’t possess the knowledge to make educated decisions about it?

I’m going to be emailing Kevin Rulkowski, the Director/City Planner of Oak Park, Michigan. Perhaps you have something to say about this matter too – you can email him here.

Let’s not allow our right – or that of anyone else- to grow our own food be eroded. Speak up. Fight back. Let’s not forget what Thomas Jefferson said: “All authority belongs to the people.” This truly is OUR LAND. Let’s not forget that, friends.

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7 responses to “Control The Food And You Control The People”

  1. Eric Avatar

    I also recommend King Corn.

    1. Trase Avatar

      Eric – someone on our Facebook page just recommended it, too. We’ll definitely be adding it to our “to-watch” list! Thanks! 🙂

  2. Trase Avatar

    Here is the email I just sent to Kevin Rulkowski:

    Mr Rulkowski:
    I am writing you in reference to Oak Park resident Julie Bass’ vegetable garden. I am a Michigan resident and small farmer who is concerned about the stance you have taken against Ms. Bass.

    Your standpoint is that their front lawn should be grass. Did you know that grass lawns became common as a result of French aristocrats in the 18th century, who grew grass on their land to insult the peasants? It was their way of telling the peasants “I am so rich, I can afford to use my land for something as useless as grass, instead of food. Meanwhile, you suffer.” In fact, the attitude of those aristocrats and the hunger of the peasants are thought to have been major contributors to the French Revolution. Needless to say, things didn’t work out well for the aristocrats.

    The world we live in has changed. Now the “aristocrats” (big government in collusion with corporate food producers) encourage we the “peasants” to grow grass instead of food, so that they can be our masters, controlling the food under lock and key. Many of us have educated ourselves about these corporate food producers and have decided that it is not in our best interest to accept the toxins that end up in our food as a result of the industrial processes used to produce it. So we want to grow our own.

    My husband and I are fortunate enough to live in a rural area now, where we are free to grow food and livestock to our pleasing. However, that was not always the case. Up until September 2008, we lived in one of the suburbs of Metro Detroit, on a small house lot. If we still lived in that area, we would still expect the freedom to grow our own food. It is one of the most basic rights humans have.

    Have you read about the food shortages expected in the near future, as a result of peak oil? This is another reason for people to realize the importance of growing their own food – especially here in Michigan, where the economy has been particularly hard hit in terms of employment. We simply don’t have the incomes we used to, and so getting quality food within one’s budget often means that growing our own food is a necessity.

    In your interview with Fox2 News, you said that “suitable” is defined as “common” in the dictionary. I cannot determine which dictionary you found that definition in, but those that I have consulted have all generally said the same thing: “appropriate to a purpose or occasion.” Ah! That changes things, doesn’t it? Because raised garden beds as seen in the Bass’ yard are indeed appropriate to that purpose – growing food. The definition says nothing about conformity, so the argument that because raised garden beds are not “common” in Oak Park, they should not be allowed – loses steam. Perhaps others will be inspired because they can see the beauty and benefit of growing their own food due to the Bass family allowing the community to share in the experience. In fact, there may be others who want to start their own garden, but are now fearful of a backlash from the city because of what they see happening here.

    As a city manager, it seems to me that you would applaud the efforts of forward-thinking people to plan ahead for their own well-being and food safety. Contrast this with those who scoff at the idea of growing their own food, since it is a simple matter of acquiring it at a grocery store. That works up until the point that they can’t afford the food or the transportation to get there, or they get sick from the food because of the dirty industrial conditions under which it was grown. If a crisis occurs, wouldn’t you want to feel confident that many of your citizens can supply some of their own food, rather than looking to the government to aid them?

    I sincerely hope that you take the time to educate yourself regarding the reasons why so many of us have chosen to raise our own food. If you have not already, I encourage you to watch the documentaries Food, Inc., The Future of Food, and King Corn. All of these will help you to understand the urgency many of us feel regarding our personal food supplies. Perhaps this understanding will also convince you that these are efforts that should be encouraged, not prosecuted.

    Trase Passantino
    Tyrone Township, MI 48430

  3. Dave Crampton Avatar
    Dave Crampton

    Is there anything that could be planted in pots this late in the season?

    1. Trase Avatar

      Sure! You might try radishes, lettuces (wait until the weather cools toward Sept for those!) scallions, spinach…actually here’s a fantastic link with a whole lot of ideas in that regard! Also, I have seen some folks use the little kiddie pools as a sort of raised bed garden, just a thought! 🙂

    2. George Avatar

      I would suggest picking up some painters dropcloth, that clear plastic stuff, and building yourself a basic greenhouse/high tunnel.

      Check out this link:

      I think if you looked at something like that, you’d be able to replicate it (or something similar) on the cheap. Best part is that it’ll give you a few weeks or more extension at the beginning and end of the season.

  4. Marenka Cerny Avatar
    Marenka Cerny

    Any article that references Monty Python deserves respect. posted your article here: …hope to see you there! best to you.

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