Oxfam’s GROW: Bringing Awareness to Mint Green
The GROW: Psychedelic Garden is coming to Mint Green Music Festival this weekend and everyone’s getting excited. But do you know where the name of the garden actually come from?
GROW is Oxfam America’s current campaign to find sustainable solutions to ending hunger. Unlike most organizations, which have no clear path to ending hunger and typically just supply short-term aid, Oxfam looks for long-term, sustainable solutions and provides concrete steps that can be taken to stop hunger.
But before we look at the how’s, let’s talk a little about the why’s. Currently, approximately 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night. That’s 1 out of every 7 people! The issue will only grow as the world population reaches 9 billion by 2050. Poorer people also are more susceptible to the affects of climate change such as flooding, drought, and severe storms. Check out this chart, which shows the projected price of different foods in 2030, and then shows the projected price when climate change is put into consideration:
When about half of the world’s population lives below the poverty line ($2/day), these changes in prices affect them the most and force them to go without. Most hungry people are farmers, fishermen, and pastoralists and 80% of hungry people live in rural areas- the people who are producing the food don’t have enough to eat! Women produce the majority of household food and are 75% of the African agricultural workforce– yet they own very little land and are the last to eat. Yet, while so many people go to bed hungry, there is a disproportionate about of obesity and wasted food in this world. Food isn’t getting to the people who need it most. The food system is broken and old solutions are not helping. Something needs to be done.
It is at this moment, in recognizing how daunting and bleak the facts are, that most people turn away. What can be done? What can I do? That’s where Oxfam sets itself apart from other organizations. Oxfam’s current campaign, GROW, unifies Oxfam affiliates around the globe on a mission to find concrete solutions to hunger, poverty, and social injustice.
Oxfam America’s agenda has five points:
- Invest in small-scale food producers— Empowering small-scale production of food would result in more people having more control over the production of food. Think about it like this, if 500 people work on a large-scale farm, those 500 people are producing food that goes to the profit of a few men at the top. These 500 are paid a wage that is subject to food price fluxuation, instead of being able to grow food to provide for their families. Also, statistics show that large-scale farms do not necessarily grow more food than many small-scale farmers.
- End excessive speculation in commodity markets— We know that investing in the stock market is often a gamble and as more people invest in a certain product, the value of the product goes up, and if suddenly a large number of people withdraw their stock because of a projected loss in value, the value of the stock (and potentially the whole market) bottoms out. That’s pretty risky business when you start speculation on a life staple. Recently, millions of dollars have been put into speculating on the price of food, since it’s predicted that the price of food will go up. It is not acceptable to allow this volatility to be applicable to food. This is a life staple, not a hedge fund- excessive speculation by large investors has the power to starve people.
- Modernize food aid— Currently, 50 cents of every dollar that is sent abroad as US food aid is lost. American taxpayers first pay large-scale corporate farmers to produce food (in the form of subsidies), then pay a premium to buy it as food aid, and then pay another premium for it to be transported across the world by US ships (which usually takes about 6 months). Waste, waste, waste. It’s fiscally a waste and ecologically a waste (because of the carbon emissions produced through transport). So when people complain that the international aid that the government invests in is a waste (which, by the way, is less than 1% of the US budget), in some ways they might not totally be wrong. Aid needs to be in the form of money that can be used to purchase food on local markets or to provide cash or vouchers so that people can buy their own food.
- Stop giveaways to the corn-ethanol industry— Fact: corn-ethanol produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the oil/gasoline it’s supposed to be replacing. Another fact: $20billion goes into biofuels subsidies. Money that could be used to reduce the deficit, or support small-scale farming in the US (imagine if we subsidized fruits & veggies instead of inedible corn?!), or invest in alternative energies such as wind or solar power.
- Regulate land & water grabs— In other parts of the world, where government infrastructure is minimal, powerful local elites & investors utilize expropriations to step in and grant large tracts of land & resources for their company or business, typically disregarding affected inhabitants and rarely giving even a pitiful compensation.
So, now that you know a little bit about GROW, let’s talk about the fun part, the GROW: Psychedelic Garden. World hunger doesn’t sound so fun, does it? However, the goal of the Psychedelic Garden is to help you grow in awareness and consciousness. The plant displays in the garden will provide interactive information and Oxfam volunteers will be at the Garden, providing information and helping to make you aware of how you can make a difference both at home and at the festival. There will also be t-shirt making (so be sure to bring your old t-shirts!), coloring, and tons of giveaways. Afterwards, be sure to check out Officially OutRageUs to let them know what you think about the Garden and the campaign. All this, while listening some great music and chilling with friends.
Tickets to Mint Green Music festival (Aug. 24 & 25) are still available! Purchase them here: http://mintgreenfestival.ticketleap.com/mint-green/