Real Wealth: Vandana Shiva at Oregon Tilth

As one of the largest organic certifiers in the nation, Oregon Tilth runs a series of programs focused on education and advocacy for sustainable food systems. At the end of February (26-28), they will be presenting Organicology, a major organic foods conference, right here in Portland. In addition to organic trade booths, workshops and info sessions, Tilth has gathered a great roster of speakers, including Paul Roberts, Claire Hope Cummings, and, most excitingly, Slow Food International’s Vice President, Vandana Shiva.

An internationally-recognized physicist and environmentalist, Shiva has dedicated her life to arguing for biodiversity, food security and the protection of traditional, cultural knowledge. Shiva is an outspoken voice against India’s “green revolution” and a tireless proponent of feminism, specifically as it converges with ecology. Navdanya, her research foundation, focuses on environmentally-sound, fair trade solutions to the development and the empowerment of disenfranchised rural communities. Most recently, she has focused her efforts on addressing the role of agriculture in global warming. Through her International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, Shiva presented a “Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security” at Terra Madre 2008. The document (PDF download) outlines the myriad impacts that biofuels and industrial agriculture have on the climate, as well as what traditional farming practices can do to mitigate the damage.

In October, at Terra Madre, Shiva proclaimed that our economy and our agriculture have come to be predicated on “fictions.” To Shiva, only Nature represents “real wealth” and, to that end, she acknowledged that the thousands of delegates attending the conference have chosen another path. “You have put your money in the real bank,” she praised, “the bank of the earth and the bank of the earth producers.” She should have quite the impact when she addresses the G8 as a Slow Food representative.

Watch below for her powerfully inspiring speech from Terra Madre:

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