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Nature, economy and identity

yhama's picture

Nature, economy and identity

October 30th, 2015


The story begins with the description of the earth.

“It starts with the earth. How can it not? Imagine the planet like a spirit peach, whose pit forms the core, whose flesh its mantle, and whose fuzzy skin its crust- no, that doesn’t do justice to the crust, which is, after all, where all of like takes place. The earth’s crust must be more like the rind of the orange, thicker and more durable, quite unlike the thin skin of a bruisable peach. Or is it? Funny, how you never think to wonder.”(p.3)

The first time I read this paragraph, I was thinking about fragility of the earth as a peach. The earth is very well balanced so that life can happen. This must be the theme of the book, I assumed. As I kept on reading, however, I realized what they really care about is humans, not the earth. After all, even if all humans become extinct, the earth would produce new life which would lead this planet. Actually the earth has been repeating this cycle for a long time since the first life appeared on it.

The problem is whether the genetically modified food is harmful to us or not. As Cass thought that “The fact was, some things had to die so that others could live, and the idea was to try to maximize your chances of staying on the living side for as long as you could.” (p.270), people are surviving like other organisms do, and in this case from bugs. Will states that “Monoculture is efficient. We got six billion humans on the earth, and a lot of them are starving.” (p.272)

However, there is a trick. Even though it sounds that monoculture consider people, the capitalist theory doesn't not take into account any human factors. Geek mentions that “That’s just corporate marketing. The masses aren’t starving because there isn’t enough food. There’s a surplus – you know that! People are starving because the food isn’t being distributed fairly, to those in need. The population explosion argument is the oldest spin in the books!” (p.272)

Geek knows the agricultural situation controlled by government, so his objection against genetically modified food also leads to the free from the restriction physically and mentally. “As Lloyed has reminded us, today is the Fourth of July – Independence Day – and we are assembled here to declare independence from the corporate hegemony that is seeking to gain total control over global food supplies.” (p.302)

This book illustrates both sides especially in the scene Will and Geek are facing with each other. They both act following their beliefs and their identities are constructed by what they believe. After all there is no answer nor criteria to judge good or bad if their objectives are different. One cares nature, and one cares safety and one cares business. What is the border of the things we should do or not? I think Loyed has a point. “I pray to God my grandkids won’t have to grow up eating them!”(p.307)



Ozeki. R. (2004). All Over Creation. Penguin Books.



jccohen's picture


I think you’re saying two interesting and related things here:  First, you note that “they” (do you mean the characters or the author?) “really care about humans, not the earth.”  And then for much of the rest of the essay, you’re writing about “whether the genetically modified food is harmful to us or not,” according to the beliefs of the characters in the book.  What do you ultimately want to claim that Ozeki is getting at here?  Is she siding with one or several characters, and/or is she taking a larger view, caring about the earth itself?  I think this is the key question for your revision, and you need to both clarify your claim and return to this question in your conclusion.

 Also, you note in your last paragraph that the confrontation between Will and Geek is where we see the conflict – is it between human health and economic prosperity? – most clearly; how about elaborating this in a full paragraph to show us how you see this playing out?