ACCRA — The flight attendant came down the aisle. Would you like something to drink?
One person responded briefly, Coke.
Diet Coke, said another.
It said something about the state of the world that before 9 AM, many considered soda an appropriate morning beverage.
But then again, this was the world where potatoes, in their most familiar form, were no longer hard and round fistfuls dug from roots but more fondly thin and crunchy, preserved in a bag.
And potatoes were not the only distant descendants.
Trees were better known to us in bright whites or creams, lined, and with options like wide- or college-ruled. Other trees were beloved not for their uniquely patterned leaves, shelter, and shade but for their bark–found in our homes as hardwood floors or shiplap, a pleasant surprise underneath dreaded carpet or rotted drywall.
Animals we love for their skins—-our leather bags and sleeper sofas, our fur coats, and oh, the ivory.
Some we can love no more.
The world’s natural salmon population has been literally hunted out of existence. Only its genetically modified replica remains for our seas, pantries, and saute pans.
For all we know, maybe those passengers are prophetic. Maybe we should begin savoring this newly beloved morning (and afternoon and dinner) beverage, Coke. Maybe not that far into the future, the coffee bean population, the grapes, the orange and fruit trees, the cows and goats, maybe they too will go the way of the salmon.
In this age, which alleges to be much advanced from the past, we neglect the very things our ancestors held dear.
Across the world, farmlands are shrinking. And everyday new houses are erected, yet people construct homes with no regard for where food is grown and harvested, how far a distance it needs to be transported, and how these conditions will affect the all-important, sometimes eye-widening or purse strangling, price.
Just decades ago, okra farms along with other fresh foods—-tomatoes, onions, and the like—-were in abundance in Accra. But with fewer and fewer people farming okra and other vegetables, prices for produce have risen dramatically.
Affluence is booming but so is hunger.
If this trend continues, with our concrete jungles outpacing farms and gardens, with more demand from a growing population of ever hungrier bellies and less output from fewer farmers, we will certainly replace our routines of buying from market women and fishermen to shopping at multinational chains, disguised with authentic African names of course.
The hands that move the chains desire to train our eyes and taste buds to accepting a world where trees are to be written upon with pens, homes are to house animal skins, and food and drink are to be produced in factories.
The flight attendant reaches me.
I guess, I will also have Coke.
In this moment, alone, I cannot change this course of the world. It takes a village to farm and feed the community.