Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers, is also thought of as mostly a day of shopping by many Americans, according to Time Magazine.  According to analyses from social media sites, most people were excited about shopping, not barbecues, this past Memorial Day weekend.

Many of the articles and media segments seemed to aim their shopping advertisements ideas towards women and the purchasing of clothing.  If you live in the United States, is apparent that our consumer culture runs deep:  Christmas seems to be the most obvious in its ludicrousness, with people tripping over each other after Thanksgiving to buy a tickle-me Elmo doll or find the best deal at Wal-Mart.  Whether it is TV commercials, shows with product placements (or not-very-well-disguised ads scripted into many of them), or celebrity gossip magazines, consumer culture does not seem to be halting any time soon.

Things that are hopeful, however, are out there:  websites like buynothingchristmas.org, Reverend Billy and his film, What Would Jesus Buy?, and the Simple Living Institute all advocate more simple living, less material possessions, and less shopping.   The advertisements for Memorial Day Sales, however, still manage to depress me.  Not because I think we should all be sitting around sulking, but in American culture, to have a holiday usually includes something shiny and new.  That might be exciting for a few moments, but where are the peace rallys, the tree plantings?  They’re out there, but where is their coverage?  I don’t expect Good Morning America to do a complete 180 and have them cover money-free events happening  on Memorial Day, skipping Ann Taylor dress sales altogether, but with more and more consumerism happening, the crimes against the earth simply trickle-down, and it is the media’s job to start bring awareness into the limelight.  We have been creating a temporary, pop-up economy.  And besides the earthly destruction it creates, it doesn’t make us any happier.  Statistically, depression is on the rise.  Consumerism works to fill empty voids with air, making one think they need more and more stuff in a never-ending cycle.  Memorial Day (and other holidays) can be about much more, creating memories that people are able to have forever, unlike that new coffee maker that simply replaces your old, albeit not-in-the-best-shape-but-still-works one.

I am not saying that we should darn all of our old socks instead of buying new ones (although you could!).  But shopping just to shop, and buying new shoes that make your butt tighter just because Kim Kardashian says you should, does not make one happy or fulfilled.  It feeds the heartless capitalist model of profit and being top dog.  Memorial Day Sales may seem harmless on the surface, like a girl jumping in the air on a sunny day in a JC Penny’s ad, but like Inga Muscio might say, maybe we should be celebrating love rather than encouraging destruction, sweatshops and manufacturing chemicals.

 

Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture for the crucial Farm Bill of 2012. I know what you might be thinking, but this bill doesn’t just affect men in their sixties wearing overalls and a John Deere cap. It also affects young organic farmers, women farmers, refugee farmers, and basically everyone in the nation who cares about climate change and eats, drinks, and breathes.

Among the programs threatened to be cut by Congress’s metaphorical scissors is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This program has paid farmers to keep delicate and erodible land out of production, including forests, prairies, and wetlands. It’s been important in that it has sequestered carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. Putting land into a conservation program like CRP also encourages cleaner water, cleaner soil, and protects habitats for wildlife. It’s imperative for battling climate change and for protection of the some of the natural world.

Approximately seven million acres are currently at risk of being taken out of CRP, which will lead to a massive amount of stored carbon being released into the atmosphere. It will do major damage in destroying ecosystems and wildlife, all for the sake of tilling it under in order to plant every inch of ground in chemical-laden crops, like soy and corn, only to be fed to suffering factory-farmed animals and make environmentally damaging ethanol.

Another important part of the farm bill that is threatened with deep cuts is the 50 percent cut to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This grant program affects training programs for new farmers including minority, immigrant, and women farmers. The cut would affect programs like Empowering Beginning Women Farmers in the Northeast through Whole Farm Planning, and New Roots for Refugees, which has given immigrants land access they would otherwise never be able to have.

And that is just the beginning. The farm bill instead focuses on subsidy crop production (soy, corn, rice, cotton and wheat) that impact the earth with toxins, and ignores…well, most things, like the planet’s health, the health of endangered wildlife, poor people, and the future of life on earth in general. As is, it is devastating. The current draft of the Farm Bill has been recently approved by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, but it may still be able to be fixed. Please take a minute now and tell the House committee what you need in the next Farm Bill. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a farmer—you are a person who lives in this world, and you care about this world’s future.

This bill is not just the Farm Bill. It is the Food Bill, the Planet Bill, the Poverty Bill, the Climate Change Bill. It is all interconnected, and it is important for everyone to speak up for.