BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN | LAST UPDATED: DEC 9, 2010 – 3:02:43 PM
[(FinalCall.com) – Editor’s Note: The following is an edited transcript from a Nov. 25 interview conducted by Final Call staff writer Starla Muhammad with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for The Final Call newspaper and covers questions related to Urban Agriculture and Gardening, Food Deserts, Farming and Alternative Farming Methods, Health Preservation and the Survival of Black America.]
Starla Muhammad, The Final Call (FCN): Brother Minister, why are you so concerned about health, food and nutrition? What do you see happening now and on the horizon? How is this related to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s teachings of How To Eat To Live?
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): You asked three questions in one so I’m going to try to remember them in order.
First of all, it is written in the scriptures that on the coming of God, He would give us life and give it to us in abundance. As you look in your scriptures at the old patriarchs they lived many long years, 300, 400, 500 years and in the time of Moses, God gave the people at that time 120 years and by the time David came to be the life span was cut down to three score and ten (70 years) and now we have turtles that live 400 and 500 years, we have trees that live a 1,000 years but man and woman who are the glory of God can hardly make it to 100.
The reason that we are interested in food and the raising of food and how—and the correct foods to eat—is because that is the only way we can prolong human life and that is the gift of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from Allah to teach us what foods to eat and what foods to store in our houses.
FCN: What do you see happening now and on the horizon?
HMLF: As you can see we are learning more of the better foods to eat, but unfortunately our food growth is in the hands of those whom we call the Merchants of Death.
They’re not caring about how food is raised or how to protect the earth and its nurturing qualities. Pesticides and chemicals are being used, hormones are used to grow livestock at faster rates and chemicals are used for the growth of vegetation; it may look good but in the end the product is toxic. This is why so many diseases are afflicting us. So we’re learning how to eat to live, what foods to choose, but now we must be willing to go to the earth and produce that food so that we can extend our days.
FCN: Can you discuss the connection between developing and maintaining an independent sustainable food source, economics and health as it pertains to Black people?
HMLF: If we go to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, all economies are based on land and what the land produces.
If we now have no earth that we can call our own, then our food consumption is based on what others raise and how others raise that food. So we’re at the mercy of others because we don’t have earth that would give us sustainable agricultural growth and progress. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us an example—when he was here in the 1960s we went to Georgia and purchased 5,000 acres of land. We went to Alabama and purchased another 8,000 or 10,000 acres of land. We went to Honduras and bought another 20,000 acres of land and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad had an ad in our paper at that time, Muhammad Speaks, that said we wanted to lease one million acres of land.
Why? Because we wanted to produce a sustainable agricultural program that would give us health, maintain our health and sustain us in a proper way.
FCN: Given the lack of access to healthy and nutritious foods in Black and poor neighborhoods nationwide (also known as food deserts) and the health problems that plague Black America, how should the community respond to this crisis? What should Black leaders and organizations be urging our people to do?
HMLF: Well many Whites are building hoop houses and doing gardening to get away from the high cost of food and the denatured food being produced that looks so good in our supermarkets. But in the Black communities, we have what are called food “deserts” because there are not adequate supermarkets bringing us whole food or organically grown foods so we are living in the midst of death in the sense of fast foods and restaurants that are not producing or cooking and getting foods that are best for the consumers.
In these food deserts we are trying to utilize space in cities that are vacant that we might set up what are called hoop houses. One of the greatest exponents of that is a young man we had the privilege of meeting about a month and a half ago named Mr. Will Allen, who has gotten many awards many accolades for the work that he is doing in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I went there recently to examine the work that he is doing and the beauty of Mr. Will Allen’s work is not only that he’s producing clean or wholesome fish for the consumer but he’s also producing products, vegetation that is from healthy soil that he himself is producing and teaching others how to produce good healthy soil.
We brought him to our farm in Michigan and he’s showing us how to turn that land and give life to the land that it would bring out more healthy produce for us and we’re going to hopefully set up some hoop houses and invite our laborers from across the country to learn how to do it then go back to their cities and produce this good food and fish—if they desire to eat fish—that they may be able to correct health problems and maintain a healthy life if they eat good food and eat it at the proper time.
FCN: In what ways can people with no agricultural or farming background be inspired to plant gardens and practice healthier eating?
HMLF: Just go and look at the food desert and see what you’re eating. If you’re not inspired to want to take care of the life that God has given to you then we’re truly mentally and economically, socially dead.
But if you love the life that you have, your desire should be to maintain that life and to give yourself a healthy lifestyle that will give you longer life. Anyone who is alive wants to have health and well being. The only way to have it is to have some of this earth that we can call our own and then go back to the earth and grow our own food, produce our own soil and give ourselves a chance to live the kind of life The Creator desires for us to live.
FCN: We have been “conditioned” to eat unhealthy food; how do we reverse that trend?
HMLF: The scripture says, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.” We eat unhealthy food because we don’t know what we’re eating and the effect of what we’re eating on the systems of our body, in particular on our brain. So the only way to change that is to introduce new knowledge, correct knowledge and when you have the correct knowledge then you correct your behavior according to that knowledge.
So the key is making our people more knowledgeable and that’s why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad set up Mosque Maryam and called it, “The National Center for the Reeducation and Retraining of the Black Man and Woman of America” and from there throughout the world.
FCN: Are more grocery stores, convenience stores and corner markets in poor communities the way to address the issues of health and nutrition or is more needed to educate and motivate people to take responsibility for their diets and lives?
HMLF: It would be great if we had more stores in our community servicing our needs. But we need earth to produce the food so the stores can bring the food that we produce to market so our people can have access to healthy food and good food. Yes, we need more convenience stores, more stores, more supermarkets, but what is the root of that? It is the earth and what the earth produces.
We need both. We need the earth to produce food and we need the urban marketplace to bring our produce to the market so our people absolutely can have good food.
FCN: As we know, Black farmers have been battling the U.S. Government to collect money and aid the farmers are due. In what ways can Black farmers and Black communities work with one another to combat these food deserts and to ensure the survival of Black farmers and a healthy food supply?
HMLF: First, if the U.S. government finally comes through and gives them the money that they have earned, that they deserve, they can plow that money back into producing crops for themselves, then bring those crops to the urban centers, putting products in convenience stores and stores in our community, or opening up marketplaces in the inner cities for the products from the Southern farmers.
It is going to have to be through connections—the unity of the farmers with each other, the unity of the farmers in the South with the urban centers of the South and the North, marketing plans, trucking systems, warehouses that we may begin, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, to do something for ourselves.
FCN: And the last question: The U.S. House of Representatives passed bill H.R. 2749, a so-called food safety bill which gives increased regulating authority and control of growing food, storing seeds and harvesting crops to the FDA. The equivalent U.S. Senate bill S510 was under review. With the passage of these bills, what are the social, economic and health implications on society as a whole?
HMLF: It will ultimately produce revolution. Because of the tyranny that is inherent in such a bill, the people that are suffering from these merchants of death and the quality of food and livestock that they produce are such that the people want alternatives. With these bills it appears as if the legislation is designed to kill alternatives to big agribusinesses, such as the Monsanto company that produces seeds, and the genetically modified food being produced.
People don’t want it, people want health and well being so if the government takes that position, then the American people, I believe, when they understand the weight of legislation may rise up in rebellion against their government. This kind of tyranny is what caused America to come into existence and if government will produce these tyrannical laws that strip the American people of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness then the present government will need to be reformed or abolished and the American people are thinking along both lines.
FCN: Thank you, Minister Farrakhan for this interview.