Last fall, we had the great honor to welcome environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva at Straus Family Creamery for a visit. Although her sweet, humble demeanor and small build would never suggest it, we were quick to realize that we had a world-class activist and international leader in front of us, who has been named one of the seven most influential women in the world by Forbes Magazine. Dr. Shiva has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of small farmers, food security and the preservation of seeds.
She is a leader of the International Forum on Globalization; Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology and Ecology; and an advisor to the country of Bhutan and its famous “happiness index”. Through campaigns and lawsuits in India, she was instrumental in preventing the patenting of Basmati Rice, along with 2,000 indigenous rices and hundreds of other seed varieties, which are now being saved and preserved in the 54 seed banks her organization Navdanya has created all over India.
During her visit, Dr. Shiva marveled at the cows and shared stories from her childhood, where “the calves got the milk first, and the children when the calves were done”. While tasting our milk and ice cream at the Creamery, she told us (with a twinkle in her eyes) that she would become an organic dairy farmer if she were young and starting over again today.
It was a great inspiration for us to hear Dr. Shiva talk. Despite the threat which small farmers and food systems face globally, her vision for the future is positive and hopeful. She tirelessly travels the globe, gives speeches at universities and rallies, and has created a large network of supporters in the process.
One of her goals, which is very close it us, is to change the direction of the arrow when it comes to the cost of non-GMO food production. Currently, small farmers and producers are responsible to ensure that their products remain GMO-free and they have to do the work and absorb the necessary costs and time involved. Dr. Shiva argues that this responsibility needs to be and can be shifted to the GE industry itself, by creating accountability systems such testing and mandatory labeling.
Click here for more information on Dr. Shiva’s organization, Navdanya.