America certainly has an abundance of food, even though many Americans do not. We face a momentous choice of whether to pursue a food future rooted in the ethic of sustainable agri-culture — or one based on the exploitative ethic of agri-industry.

What better symbol of agri-industry’s vision of “food” than the ubiquitous “Butterball” turkey so many ate for Thanksgiving? The Butterball was hoisted onto millions of tables by huge advertising budgets and regular promotional payments to supermarkets.

The birds themselves have been grotesquely deformed by industrial geneticists, who created breasts so ponderous that the turkeys can’t walk, stand up, or even reproduce on their own (thus earning the nickname “dead-end birds”).

Adding torture to this intentional deformity, the industry sentences these once-majestic fowl to dismal lives in tiny confinement cages within the sprawling, steel-and-concrete animal factories that scar America’s rural landscape — monuments to greed-based corporate “husbandry.”

As the eminent farmer-poet-activist Wendell Berry tells us, eating is a profound political act. It lets you and me vote for the Butterball industrial model or choose to go back to the future of agri-culture. It lets us choose the art and science of cooperating with nature rather than trying to overwhelm it.

That cooperative ethic is the choice of the remarkable “Good Food Uprising” that has spread across the country in the past 30 years. Now the fastest-growing segment of the food economy, it is creating the alternative model of a local, sustainable, small scale, community-based, organic, humane, healthy, democratic — and tasty! — food system for all.

To take part in the good food movement and find small-scale farmers, artisans, farmers markets, and other resources in your area, visit www.LocalHarvest.org.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.