Thomas Arthur Bassett III (Tommy) and Thomas Arthur Bassett IV (Arthur) live in a Quaker community in the Sulfur Spring Valley outside of McNeal AZ. Arthur spent three years in the Peace Corps in the South Pacific, got a Masters in Forestry, and worked in the Forest Service for a few years. He liked the work well enough, but feels it didn’t justify his degree. “I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Maybe it’s because I live out here. The universities are just big sexy malls that put people in debt.”
Now Arthur is an organic agricultural inspector. Father and son both worked in Haiti in a State Department program and are involved in a coffee cooperative in Mexico. “Immigration issues are pushing wages up. The result it that more and more produce is coming from Mexico.”
An International Organic Inspectors Organization trained Arthur for the organic farms he certifies in the US and Mexico. “The U.S. Government standard for ‘organic’ requires it be non-GMO, but not all non-GMO foods are organic.”
Arthur is the primary cook. He prepared eggplant lasagna and quinoa with beans plus peach cobbler for dessert, all recipes from the More-with-Less Mennonite cookbook. Although not vegetarian, he rarely cooks meat at home. This is tough for Tommy, a meat and potatoes guy.
Like his dad, Arthur takes a casual approach to being Quaker. “I don’t have a strong background in any religion. I just like living here. It opens me to the Quaker way of thinking. I like that.”
That way of thinking led Arthur to a more comprehensive view of the sustainability. “I lived in India for a while. They don’t have China; they only have India. Everything is made in India. The pollution is strong, the crowds are huge, but everything comes from there. In the US, we pat ourselves on the back for having a farmer’s market. It’s good, but it’s not enough. That’s why I like living in this community. Everyone has a mantra of less that works for me.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“Our environmental laws are good, but they put pressure on making things elsewhere. Our wood is coming from Canada; China is doing our manufacturing. We are protecting our resources but taking them from other places. I believe in keeping people involved in our planet, not making it a glass box to observe.”