Words to Chew On

Reflecting on the thoughts and concerns of those figures who not only who have significantly influenced our history, but who have given us the moral leadership from which we can draw upon in facing the great struggles of our modern age, can be most instructive.

As each year comes to a close we frequently read of lists compiled telling who were the previous 12 months outstanding newsmakers, entertainers, sports stars, celebrities, etc. Seldom in this year in, year out list making do we find genuine great focal points of inspiration.

For this reason here are some of my favorite "quotable quotes" drawn from a variety of sources, individuals and cultures to meditate on and hopefully draw inspiration from as we face an increasingly dangerous and turbulent world.


Economic Growth By Means of Corporate Priorities

"What have we witnessed in the last 50 years? Well, on the one hand it's true mass levels of technological innovation, tremendous social movements able to gain some limited access to natural resources, some power and wealth. But for the most part, the deeply conservative character of American civilization is still in place; that character being twofold: one, economic growth by means of corporate priorities, which corporate elites and banking elites, not simply having a disproportionate lot of power and influence, but at the same time such power and influence rarely being part of a public discussion such that we can question it and interrogate it in a concrete way. Economic growth by means of corporate priorities on the one hand and on the other hand the very, very deep seated forms of xenophobia." -- Cornell West


The True Limits of Manufacturers and Commerce

"Manufacturers, sufficient for our own consumption, of what we raise the raw material (and no more). Commerce sufficient to carry the surplus produce of agriculture, beyond our own consumption, to a market for exchanging it for articles we cannot raise (and no more). These are the true limits of manufactures and commerce. To go beyond them is to increase our dependence on foreign nations, and our liability to war. These three important branches of human industry will then grow together, and be really handmaidens to each other." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Jay, 1809

Three Ways For Nations To Acquire Wealth

"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth: the first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors --- this is robbery; the second by commerce, which is generally cheating; the third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man received a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry." -- Benjamin Franklin, "Positions to be Examined Concerning National Health," April 4, 1769.


Losing Our Sense of Meaning in Food

"We've detached ourselves from our food; it is no longer personal. We want our meals faster and easier; our goal is to spend little time eating. We promote convenience and speed, equating it with quality and value. We are willing to spend billions on diets, nutritional supplements and exercise gyms instead of simply eating right. We've managed to overlook the notion 'you are what you eat' and reclassify it as old-fashioned thinking. Food is not a player in our information age." --- Mas Masumoto, California family farmer, USA Today


The People's Own

"Speed now the day when the plains and the hills and all the wealth thereof shall be the people's own and free men shall not live as tenants of men on the earth." -- "Ceremony of the Land," Southern Tenant Farmer's Union


Right of Each Country to Establish its Own Food Policies

"If multinational companies are successful in creating a truly global agricultural system in which they control prices and movement of commodities, the right of each country to establish its own farm policies will have to be destroyed." -- Jorge Calderon, professor of economics and onetime member of the Mexican Congress.


Nations' Priorities

"Nations do not have permanent enemies, they do not have permanent friends, they have only permanent interests." -- William Gladstone, Former British Prime Minister


He Is Free

"He is free who knows how to keep in his own hands the power to decide, at each step, the course of his life, and who lives in a society which does not block the exercise of that power." -- Salvador de Madariaga, 16th century Spanish diplomat.


Our True Test

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt



"It is one thing to say with the prophet Amos 'let justice roll down like mighty waters,' and quite another to work out the irrigation system." -- William Sloan Coffin, Yale University chaplain


Justice's Reward

"In the struggle for justice, the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle." -- Frederick Douglass


A World in a Quandary

"We live in a world torn between wanting to listen to the sound of a flower growing and wanting to ignore the sound of the sky falling. By sometimes being sensitive enough to the first process we acquire the energy necessary to prevent the second." -- Anon


Hope and Imagination

"Hope exists only in the imagination. We cannot survive without hope, therefore we cannot survive without imagination. This has to do with the work of unleashing the imagination of the people." -- Julian Beck, Rio de Janeiro, 1970


My Life

"My life is but a weaving between my God and me. I may but choose the colors, He worketh steadily. Full opt he weaveth sorrow. And I in foolish pride forgets he sees the upper and I the underside." -- John Bannister Tabb, Confederate Army Chaplain


Prayer For Peace

"What God is saying means peace

for his people, for his friends,

if only they renounce their folly;

for those that fear him, his saving help is near,

and the glory will then live in our country.


"Love and Loyalty now meet,

Righteousness and Peace now embrace;

Loyalty reaches up from earth

And Righteousness leans down from heaven.


"Yahweh himself bestows happiness

As our soil gives it harvest,

Righteousness always preceding him." -- Psalm 85: 8-13

A.V. Krebs publishes the online newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner, email He is author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness.

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