David Suzuki has dedicated his life to leaving the Earth better than he found it, and he’s inspired millions of people to do the same. An award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster, he’s been sharing his message of sustainability far and wide. As a society we’re facing a lot of challenges — climate change, pollution, limited water resources — and so much of that comes back to the food we eat and the choices we make every day. As a powerful voice for change in Canada and across the world, Suzuki has worked hard to ensure that his vision of the future will one day be a reality. This fall, he sparked the Blue Dot movement with a cross-country tour, aimed at getting the right to a healthy environment enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Let’s join David Suzuki in standing up for the people and places we love — and for a sustainable future for all.
You’ve said you feel like you and other environmental activists over the past 40 years have failed. Why is that, and what will the next generation of organic leaders need to succeed?
At the heart of the environmental challenge is the way we see ourselves in the world. If we feel we are in charge and that the world is for our use as we wish, we will continue to create problem after problem. Thirty to 35 years ago, environmental victories we celebrated turned out to by pyrrhic, as we are again fighting the same issues because we didn't shift the perceptual frame through which we see the world.
We are biological creatures, as fundamentally dependent on clean air, clean water, clean soil and food, photosynthesis and biodiversity, as any other organism. Once we see that, it changes everything in terms of the way we have to act for our own survival and well-being. The organic food movement is fundamental to our change in our relationship with the biosphere.
What’s your advice for people who want to make choices that have a positive impact on the environment, like eating organic?
There are many simple ways each of us can reduce our ecological footprint. I'd begin by focusing on our consumer habits by asking, “What is the ecological and social impact of this product? Do I really need it? What will happen to it when I'm done with it?” I'd focus on transportation and garbage as places most of us can make significant change. Walk, bike or take public transportation over driving a car and recycle, compost and reduce garbage output.
But we need big changes to help us along the way — more public transit, a price on carbon, incentives to move to renewable energy, etc. That means we have to become more politically active. It's not enough to vote. We have to attend meetings and raise the issue of the future of our children and grandchildren who too often are not on the political agenda.
What’s your vision for the future of food?
Most Canadians live in big cities. The current food system that is built on cheap, oil-dependent mass production and transportation is simply not sustainable. The urban agriculture movement is very exciting because it is local, often organic, and driven by young people. I believe we will not be eating vegetables and fruits shipped around the planet much longer. We will eat much more local, organic and seasonal. We will do much more canning. As my friend, economist Jeff Rubin, says of the past, "In winter when we wanted fruit or vegetables, we went to the canned goods section."
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