Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) posted a video Monday, explaining how her “Green New Deal” would work in action, focusing on community gardens in her home district. But, she cautioned, growing just any leafy green food in a communal plot would be unacceptable to GND overlords, and that wanna-be urban farmers should steer away from “colonial” approaches to gardening.
The Washington Examiner snagged the video.
In it, Ocasio-Cortez, on a tour of local urban farms, suggests that communal vegetable gardens are one way to take a personal approach to alleviating the carbon footprint of industrial farming. She’s, in some ways, correct; urban gardens help people who live in so-called “food deserts” get access to cheap, fresh produce, and they cut down on how much produce needs to be trucked in from larger food-growing operations.
But at its heart, the Green New Deal is less about environmentalism — a recent study even showed that, fully implemented, Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would reduce carbon emissions by a number “barely distinguishable from zero” — than it is about a complete restructuring of the American economy designed to address perceived inequality and to meet the goals of “intersectionality” by eliminating “oppression.”
Which is why, Ocasio-Cortez says, even a successful urban garden can’t grow cauliflower.
“What I love too is growing plants that are culturally familiar to the community. It’s so important,” Ocasio-Cortez says on the video.
“So that’s really how you do it right. That is such a core component of the Green New Deal is having all of these projects make sense in a cultural context, and it’s an area that we get the most pushback on because people say, ‘Why do you need to do that? That’s too hard,” she adds.
Then she gets to the meat of her point.
“But when you really think about it — when someone says that it’s ‘too hard’ to do a green space that grows Yucca instead of, I don’t know, cauliflower or something — what you’re doing is you’re taking a colonial approach to environmentalism,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “That is why a lot of communities of color get resistant to certain environmentalist movements because they come with the colonial lens on them.”
It’s not clear whether Ocasio-Cortez means “yuca” or “yucca,” and is just pronouncing the former wrong (which is kind of an example of colonial behavior). “Yuca” (pronounced as “you-kah”) is a root vegetable that’s native to Asia and Africa and can be found in certain parts of South America; it’s sort of similar to a potato. “Yucca” (prounounced the way Ocasio-Cortez says it) is a desert plant that is mostly ornamental.
If she’s talking about “yuca,” she might have a point. Native Africans and Asians may, in fact, want to grow familiar tubers in their community gardens. But growing a “yucca” would entirely defeat the purpose of a community food garden designed to assist locals in getting fresh produce and alleviating “food deserts” where delivering fresh produce could be expensive and carbon emission heavy. Because it’s basically just a giant, spiky bush that takes up a lot of room that could be better used to grow food.
Want to make an impact on agricultural farming? Don’t plant yucca.