Screaming Resilience

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Did you know the German title of this painting is Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature)?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this blog post, because there is so much to distill. The global food system is one of the densest, most complex subjects I’ve ever studied. I suppose the main thought I took away from this class is that there will need to be some massive overhauls and a much deeper and widespread understanding of this system if we want to end many of the problems plaguing us. And that involves a lot of resilience.

As you likely already know, to be resilient is to be able to “withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” (Oxford Living Dictionaries). Not only do we see this time and time again in nature, like 800-year-old redwood trees, we see in in people, too–like cancer patients fighting to live another day or a single parent struggling to make ends meet. We will need to rely on both types of resilience in order to move forward.

In addition to their hardy nature, natural systems tend to be cyclical, like the water cycle, the carbon cycle, or the soil cycle, to name but a few. This class has taught me that imitating these natural systems works, and it works well: recycling and sustainable agriculture are good examples. Learning from the way these natural systems work is vital. Breaking free of linear thinking will be a start toward more sustainable life for us all and guaranteeing that everyone has a place at the “table.”

I am quite worried that we will not be able to do this in time, and that those who are already left out of the discussion may never be able to catch up. What if the powerful people we need to change their minds the most don’t do so in time, or at all? Before I start looking exactly like “The Scream” (above), I have to remind myself, as did the latest unit in this class, that there is a new food politics striving to effect change. There are people already working hard every day in myriad places to prevent the truly scary future that our current lifestyle points to, and many of them have been doing so for a long time. I learned that there are yardfarmers, ecovillages, and organizations designed to reduce hunger. Interest in the slow food movement is gaining momentum here in the US, and most people I know try to be educated about how their actions affect climate change.

Prevalent thinking tends to individualize many of these problems. It is not about individuals, and so the solution cannot come from individuals, either. While little things like picking up trash, composting, and avoiding certain foods do help incrementally, it is important that we remember that the problems in the world food system were created by groups of people, and it’s going to take groups of people working together to fix these problems, too. Maybe the first step is to remind ourselves of the connectedness that bonds us all, and to embrace one of things that has kept our species alive: resilience.


Works Cited:

Munch, Edvard. The Scream. 1893. Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo. Accessed 12 Mar. 2018.

“resilient.” Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, 2018. 12 March 2018.



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