I will remember Illinois not so much as the land of Lincoln, but as the land of GMO corn, soybeans, and kind people. Thanks to a few of those good people, we didn’t have to pay to park our RV even once in the nine or so days it took us to cross the state. And we’ll be forever grateful for the free chiropractic care and generous donation from Dr. David Thayer in Effingham.
One particular morning on the road remains in my memory if not in the back of my throat. The farmlands David and I passed were still wet with the previous day’s rain. We pressed through the hot and muggy air. I told David that the air was so thick and wet I felt like I was swimming and breathing under water. The water from the corn and soy fields evaporated and with it David and I inhaled the smell of chemicals the farmers had sprayed on their farmlands, acre after acre and mile after mile.
At one point, we found ourselves downwind from a gigantic tractor/sprayer that was poised to start spraying at the edge of his cornfield bordering the road. David ran ahead to keep himself from being poisoned. I stayed behind to capture the scene on video, careful to avoid the spray carried across the road by the wind.
I realize that farmers spraying their fields is an every day occurrence in our chemical intensive, GMO-based agricultural system, but I was left horrified thinking about the millions of tons of chemical poisons being sprayed across the USA and around the world. Horrified thinking about the children who grow up breathing poisoned air, playing in poisoned fields, and eating poisoned agribusiness commodity crops.
We know now through blood, urine, and even breast milk testing that glyphosate accumulates in our bodies. With the help of Kris and Olivia, David and I are running across the USA to promote healthy lifestyles and living, yet here we are breathing and accumulating poisons.
Sometimes I wonder who it was that first thought of spraying poison on our food. And who was it that first thought that eating poisoned food was a good idea? How is it that something so outrageous became the norm?
I believe the answer lies in the fact that we consumers aren’t spraying our own food. We leave that nasty job to folks in far away farms and countries, unaware that those poisons slowly injure and kill farmers, the soil, and our families. And many of us still believe that government regulations protect us from poisons, not realizing that the regulations exist primarily to protect chemical companies and their profits.
Have you ever seen a food label warning you of the poison residues remaining on and beneath the surface of the foods you’re purchasing? No. Such labels would most certainly cut into profits.
After seeing countless GMO corn and soy fields lining the roads, I began to wonder whether flesh and blood organic farmers actually exist in Illinois or anywhere else. Gratefully, thanks to Kris’ creative calling, we discovered that they do. Duane Baker with the Midwest Farmers Organic Cooperative has been farming for 51 years. We had the privilege of talking with Duane and his farmer friend, David Bright. We recorded a good share of our conversations on two different occasions and will undoubtedly include some of the footage in our post-run documentary.
It’s easy for non-farmers like me to identify the problems associated with a food system that’s run by chemical companies. Farmers like Duane and David go beyond identifying the problems; they’re doing their best to live the solutions, providing people with high quality, poison-free food.
They also provided me with a greater sense of hope. Farmers don’t have to remain as serfs or slaves to their chemical company masters. They can escape and they can return to their work of growing and nurturing healthy soil so the soil can produce healthy feed and food.
Thank you, Duane and David! And thanks to all the other good people of Illinois who took such good care of us as we passed through your beautiful state!
Organic blessings to all of you!
Brett Wilcox is the author of We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie. Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Brett wrote this blog in a laundromat in Terra Haute, Indiana. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.