North Dakota Flowers and the Spirit to Nurture

I came across an interesting NPR story about commercial agriculture, bees, almonds, conservation, and our interconnectedness. Ready?

California grows something like 2/3 of the world’s almonds. To do that, they need bees (in massive quantities) to pollinate the blossoms; but the bees can’t stay there year round because there are no other flowers and nectar sources. So, they have to ship the bees in to pollinate, then ship them out.

So far this is just another bizarre tale full of sound and fury, told by modern commercial agriculture. What is particularly interesting to me is this: they don’t have many places to take all these bees:

To survive, and certainly to produce honey, bees need food. They need landscapes with plenty of flowers and nectar. But those simple things are surprisingly hard to find in modern America.

“We’re limited to the fringes of rural America, where we can stay away from pesticides, where we can find wildflowers,” says Browning.

Notice he said “the fringes of rural America.” Modern rural America is industrialized, injecting pesticides into the air, soil, and water. Rural America is no place for a bee! So the California almond bees need to look for refuge on the fringes of rural America, and as the article explains, even this is getting more difficult to find. North Dakota used to be a place they could take bees, but it is increasingly being used for commercial farming.

Personally, I hope to one day live in a world where we really become caretakers of the natural world. Despite how much our capitalist society emphasizes private property rights, there are very few people who really take ownership as caretakers. We are for-profit people, but to really own something is to invest in it. In the world of industrial capitalism, ownership has come to mean the right to use and abuse property. It is a culture of objectification and abuse.

My concern is for our heart and soul, for our national psyche. When we use and objectify our land, animals, and property, I think that it is an indication that we objectify ourselves. Our objectification of others tips our hand and reveals our own inner self-degradation. It seems to me that a grand and magnificent shift would have to take place. From objectifying to taking care, from for-profit to nurture. Easier said than done, though, isn’t it? It is difficult to make such shifts. Deep inner change doesn’t happen all at once. It takes time and patience.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

2 thoughts on “North Dakota Flowers and the Spirit to Nurture”

  1. Wow, even the bees are migrant workers. Human farm workers too would have to survive at the rural fringes if they were to survive off the land, but the fringes, like the farms, are owned by somebody too.


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