Friday, May 19, 2006

Organic Garbage

"Organic rice" it says on the package. But I know people. I know the business mentality. I know Koreans. And I see the way Korean farmers are. I wish it weren't so. I wish that they were close in spirit to the land that they are physically close to; but they are not. I can't even begin to talk about regular farming practices, so I'll just relate this one thing.

Bicycling on the way to school I see a farm which claims to be organic. But just like all Korean country folks, they burn their garbage - all of it. And they burn it right next to the rice field. So even though they don't use fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides, when it rains there is a terrible chemical leach field sliding into the rice paddy from the burned garbage. They burn anything and everything. The smell is choking when riding by on the bike, but even that is nothing compared to the choking feeling I get in my stomach when I think that I am paying much more for "organic" rice...

Our friends at church go through plastic like there is a glut on the market, people throw out perfectly good items of furniture and other things. I have yet to buy an umbrella. Today I used my "new" umbrella that I picked up last time it was raining (out the garbage heap). It looked fine to me and I took it home and fixed it with a single paper clip (which I picked up off the floor at school)!

Oh, and speaking of school... perhaps I should let Susan tell this one, but since I'm on the subject... Every week the kids at school have a new plastic junk toy. Let's see... this week it was water guns shaped like animals; last week was tamagouche (electronic puppy dog); the week before was plastic ice cream cones that shoot the ice cream; before that.... and before that..... on and on.... every week a new toy.... they're all plastic and they're all in the garbage the next week. Let's see, we're now finished week 12 of this semester.

I guess just to round off my observations, there is an organic shop here in Yeochon, but we can't buy vegetables there because they all come wrapped in plastic... sometimes several pieces. It is very silly to be buying something that is supposedly 'good' for our bodies, but is ultimately bad for the environment; and it is in this environment that the vegetables grow, an environment filled with garbage and chemical seepage.

We believe in stewardship of the earth. It is our responsibility as receivers of God's gift of creation. We have money. We have a solid middle class income. We have money to buy what we need and what we want. We enjoy our lives very much and eat very, very well.

We could buy a car, but we chose to ride bicycles. We could buy umbrellas, but why would I when I can fix up a practically new one for the price of a free paper clip? Who can convince me otherwise? We could buy soy milk, but why? We can make soy milk in a few short minutes in our kitchen for 20 cents a litre or we can buy it in the store for 2 dollars plus a container that we have to throw away... hmmm...... where's the choice? No time to make it, you say? Well, it's also an issue of finding something that's not full of salt, sugar, vegetable oil and who knows what else.

There is a body-land connection that as Christians we are deeply aware of. But regardless of that... regardless of any religion or ideology or anything.... why would a person wish to poison the place where they live? Which in turn poisons our children...

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