Updated: Apr 13, 2021
By: Dr. Jonathan Lundgren
November 26, 2020
I recently turned 45 years old. If asked in other context, I would not remark that this birthday is a milestone. Indeed most birthdays pass by me little noticed from the day before or after. Not like 40 is marketed as. But in reflection, the circumstances that surrounded my 40th birthday left much more of a memory for me than the birthday itself. For some reason, 45 felt…different. As though this birthday is a nexus for the next phase of a life hoped for.
I recently was contractually forced to relive the days directly preceding the start of Blue Dasher Farm. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Around 5 years ago, I went through a very public and painful whistleblower suit. The resulting story that I wrote detailed the corruption of science and the insidious way in which scientists (often unknowingly) are manipulated to maintain the current paradigm of food production. More importantly, it revealed how fear makes good people do bad things. There is not blame to be found; we are all guilty. Guilty of being human.
This reflection was necessary on many levels. One of the minor outcomes of this story is that my 40th birthday came and went shrouded in insecurity, fear, and instability. Blowing the whistle is a necessary evil. Yes, it is the right thing to do to stop waste, fraud, and abuse. But it is also a selfish decision in that it hurts everyone in a person’s life in unforeseeable ways and for a long time. For me, ego didn’t drive me to blow the whistle on scientific suppression by agroindustry, but ego did make me think that I was invulnerable to the consequences of blowing the whistle.
The whistleblower case was followed by a repetitive shift in my identity over the next five years. Despite the temptation, the whistleblower campaign did not become my identity more than it needed to. I chose to focus instead on helping to support the movement in regenerative agriculture. To reform applied science to become what is needed for the macroevolutionary event that is desperately needed right now. On a deeper level, I spent the past five years healing from a deep and traumatic event, and figuring out who I choose to be and why.
It was strange to spend time documenting that which I pushed into the recesses of my mind for five years. I am fortunate for those with the strength to stay beside me through it all; many could not.
I have tried to change my tone in recent months. I was pretty angry and scared and intolerant, and right now the world doesn’t need another bitch slap. We have been smacked around enough. We need hope and trust and something steady for a change.
The fog and dim of these early winter days are hard to bear. Wisdom is in their memory for those who choose it, and it comes as a hoarfrost that paints every twig and blade on the farm an intricate white. The hoarfrost is earned and peace and beauty, and is one of my very favorite experiences.