The Last Word
Tending Our Garden
by Forrest Craver '65
April 1, 2010
“First become the change you want to see for the world.” —Gandhi
As a Dickinsonian and grandson of Forrest “Cap” Craver, class of 1899, a beloved professor and coach at Dickinson for more than 40 years, I’m thrilled by the cutting-edge leadership our college is providing in so many domains of public life. As a professional fundraising consultant and lawyer, I am especially heartened by the growing emphasis on environmental and economic sustainability within the college curricula.
During the last four decades, I’ve mobilized funds for more than 30 national environmental groups and six food-policy and nutrition-action groups. I’ve learned through many decades of social activism that we need to begin where we can create change that counts. We can all become change masters by implementing change that is both sustainable and has an impact in multiple ways.
Change your diet—and you change your world!
The three most important decisions we make every day are the choices of foods and beverages we take into our bodies. It is high time for all of us to grow local and buy local instead of relying on the average chain grocery store, where food is often trucked in from 1,500 miles away.
While Dickinson’s 180-acre College Farm upholds the local-foods movement by providing produce to the student dining hall, a local food bank and members of the farm’s co-op program, we also can do our bit.
Many of us have a third-acre of land around our home. For an investment of less than $400, we can grow enough veggies and fruit to allow us to eat organic, high-quality food throughout the late spring, summer and fall. Go to www.transitionus.ning.com and find your state and local transition food-growing groups. You’ll be healthier and happier. And when you start gardening in your front and backyard, there’s an added bonus—you will get to know your neighbors.
American agriculture is dangerous to our health—and it is stunningly unsustainable. I’ve spent the last 10 years finding out all the unsettling details, which are outlined in the award-winning film Eating: Third Edition. Eating is a “must-see” show that is alarming and provocative to say the least. Encourage your children and grandchildren to watch it as well. In the documentary, leading scientists and nutritionists make an irrefutable case that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Pyramid will put you into an early grave if you follow it.
As the film sadly notes, the milk and meat industries have been in an “unholy alliance” with medical schools and the federal government for more than five decades—and this explains the runaway rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes ravaging our country.
American agriculture is a vast and worsening problem for all life forms. A prime example is our beloved Chesapeake Bay—now a 40 percent “dead zone” because of the massive runoff from waste products and antibiotics used in commercial chicken farming. We have stood by and allowed commercial chicken-industry magnates to kill one of the largest fresh-water ecosystems in our country. It is time to wake up and take action!
As a leading liberal-arts college with a grand history and a cutting-edge future, Dickinson, and its students and alums, can make a great impact. Let’s start right now by eating fresh and raw, saying “NO” to beef, chicken and fish, all of which are too toxic for robust health. And guard your health by drinking purified, reverse-osmosis water only. Let’s get smart, let’s get serious and let us step up fully and give ourselves and our beloved Earth the promise of a longer, more fulfilling life.
Forrest Craver ’65 majored in sociology at Dickinson and earned his law degree from the University of Detroit. His Colorado-based company, Craver Creative Services, provides fundraising/membership development and copywriting for organizations with a commitment to environmental stewardship, the democratic process, racial and gender equality, human rights and child development.