By Gustavo Duch
After taking the tea off the fire, Pierre sat down by the kitchen table. When serving the two steaming cups, I was struck by his Maghreb hands full of grooves where thousands of tiny black particles had penetrated, generating a true Japanese engraving on his skin. ? Is it the fruit of my passion? he told me in anticipation of my indiscretion. ? And if you smell them? opened his hands next to my nose forming a chalice? you can discover it. They did indeed smell like the compost I make in the garden.
I took advantage of that detail, somewhat self-conscious as I was, to start the conversation I longed for so much. Pierre, why so many years highlighting the role of humus for agriculture?
? I suppose? He answered? That in your country the saying that a person should not die without first planting a tree and having a child also works, right? Well, it is clear that they are two fundamental questions so that the life of our species continues to be possible on this planet that welcomes us. Indeed, planting trees - as many as possible - and avoiding deforestation caused by the capitalist hunger for soy monocultures, biofuels or large-scale cattle raising is essential to have the oxygen we need to breathe. It is important to maintain awareness and tension in this regard but I think we forgot something even more relevant. Our bodies, also that of trees and other living beings, the food we have here on this table, everything is mostly an ordered set of millions of carbon molecules. Looking at it with a magnifying glass, too: the glucose that allows us to walk, the vitamins that give us vitality or the proteins that are our tiny skeletons, all are made of carbon. Even the oxygen that photosynthesis that plants give us is the process of digestion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Her enchanting voice pauses for a moment to take the first sip of tea and then she asks me: Have you ever thought that you yourself are nothing more than carbon chains recycled from previous living beings? Perhaps there is carbon in your bones that was once an elm or was a pelican. Well, that's right ... the Earth contains a specific amount of carbon that does not vary over time, it simply changes from one phase to another in a continuous cycle. From the air, to the earth, to the water, to the matter, to the air, to the earth…? And his hands draw a circle on a fictional blackboard. ? So, is it not true that we are not aware of the importance of carbon for our life? It only seems that we take this into account when we review oil reserves, because of course, oil is also nothing but carbon. Old and wrinkled carbon from waiting.
"Well," continues Pierre in a somewhat more relaxed tone but without losing the forcefulness that caught my attention in his talks. "I think it is obvious that our civilization is radically and dangerously disrupting the carbon cycle. The abuse of oil use causes more carbon, more CO2, to be stored in the atmosphere than natural. I say that we are the Coca-Cola civilization, a civilization more charred than normal.
? So our obligation, as true carbon beings, is to return carbon to its proper place, the earth, and thus compensate for this gap that will warm the planet. We have to return the carbon that you lend us, return as much as possible. That's why, dear friend, that's why I compost, humus,? and playing with his eyes as he plays with words right now, concludes? because I am human is my humble contribution for humanity. My work for the last thirty years has consisted of spreading and explaining the need to return to the land, to make fertile land, to transmit and support projects and initiatives in this ‘culture of humus’. Hopefully we will see in these small actions the great capacity for change that it can generate, hopefully we understand that we have to support ‘humanized’ agriculture instead of ‘industrialized‘ agriculture.
He gets up from the table and affectionately tells me to follow him, that he will show me that humus we are talking about. Very close to the garden, in front of three large lines of accumulations of decomposing organic matter, he plunges his hand into the compost and points out that it is very hot, al dente, he says, like a cook trying his stew.
? Making compost, humus, from the remains of our crops, animal excrement, the leftovers of our food should be taught in schools just as they teach adding and subtracting. Plans to recycle as much organic matter as possible should be prominently featured in political party programs.
As a good teacher who was in his youth to finalize the answer to my question, he sums up:? Making humus is essential to correct our excesses, it would allow us to combat climate change with certainty. More humus is more sovereignty.