A Los Angeles business man named Howard Manning e-mailed me today about a venture he’s been trying to start since 2001: He wants to take nuts and berries from public, urban trees and employ homeless people at minimum wage to harvest and process them into specialty food items, such as acorn-flour tortilla chips, for sale to local eateries. He promotes this concept under the guise of “cleaning up the mess” of edibles fallen on the streets and “creating jobs for the long-term unemployed,” according to California’s Press Enterprise newspaper.
Mr. Manning may have good intentions, but his plan amounts to hijacking public land and exploiting what little nature we have left for profit, to say nothing of the homeless.* Fortunately, no one has seriously considered his proposal. Wild food is the last bastion of freedom and security for living beings on this planet. It belongs to Earth alone and it must remain a non-monetarized resource for both human and nonhuman animals. It is our link to a sane past, our hope for survival and our lifeline to a free and wild present.
Mr. Manning, if you really want to help the homeless, petition your City Council to plant more trees so that all of us have more free food to eat. Educate folks on sustainable harvesting and empower them to have a direct connection to both dinner and nature, unmitigated by money. Otherwise, this is our future:
Image by Jon Foreman
* (Would he pay himself $8 an hour too, and call it fair compensation?)