Posted by: kellygiller | June 5, 2011

Creation of “Wilderness”

Throughout this week we learned about how the creation of defined “wilderness” first came about. In the Wilderness Act of 1964 wilderness was clearly defined as, “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” It’s funny because the first week we read many different examples of what wilderness meant to others, and I had issues of really finding one definition that sounded right. It’s funny because a lot of those definitions came before the wilderness act which finally gave law to the protection of wilderness. I think what I really like about this definition is the fact that they say that man is a visitor who does not remain. I like this because when I think of wilderness I think of an area that has great hiking or camping, when many of the other definitions said that it was an untouched piece of land. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to, one day I want to take a trip and visit many different National Parks in the west that all the explorers first found that helped shape our nation into what it is today.

After reading and hearing about all the debate about the Wilderness Act, I realized how similar it what to a topic that is more relevant to me and my major, which is the establishment of the USDA Organic. Both words to me and very similar in that one has a hard time defining. To a majority of people organic means made without use of pesticides. However, if you were to take a look at the Organic Food Productions Act which was only created in 1990 you would realize that there are many qualifications and certifications it takes to actually become USDA certified organic. With my dual major in Ec0-Gastronomy I have learned a lot about the creation of the USDA organic and the many struggles there were in creating it. Today there are still things that are being worked on to try and fix the certification to be what it was originally set up to be. One example that reminds me of the battle of the Hetch Hetchy is the fact that now there are huge organic farms out in California that are shipping produce all across the country. These farms are using synthetic pesticides that are allowed on the organic act’s list and they are producing foods in which are in no way sustainable for our land. The farms are producing mass amounts of the same food item, say lettuce, which is eliminating biodiversity and eventually leading to soil degradation, nutrient deficiency, and probably erosion on the nutritious soil. Then this food is being shipped across the country which is using up fossil fuels and adding to global warming. Consumers then go into a grocery store and see a USDA Organic sticker on this lettuce and choose it because they think they are being “green.”

 This situation reminds me of the battle of the Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite Park. This struggle first started because although the Yosemite National Park had already been created, it seemed as though Americans didn’t quite understand what the National Park and wilderness really meant. The president, Teddy Roosevelt ultimately decided it was OK to clear cut this valley to fill it with fresh water for the city of San Francisco because it was better for the greater good of the people. To me, many people choose organic foods because they really aren’t completely informed, but think that they are making the better choice. I think this is what happened to Teddy Roosevelt and his supporters. They did not really understand what this national park meant and if it was ok or not to use a section of the park to create a freshwater resource.  I think that if the wilderness act had been implemented before the Hetch Hetchy debate, that the dam would not have been created since it gave a great definition to wilderness and also put in place rules for the established lands.




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