Without a car food is my fuel. I prefer only the highest octane available, which is why the warmer months find me digging weeding, watering and generally caring for the plants that nourish and sustain me. This is work in by the simplest of definitions – labor and sweat. I put in effort and burn calories, and am rewarded with the like, many times over.
I’ve been lucky to make this work my job as well, in that I have found employment with a few local farms and growers, offering general labor and some specialized assistance. But the pay I receive in paper pales in comparison to the significance of the return I receive in health and wellness.
I’ve said before; the two main ways we interact with the natural world are how we sustain ourselves from it, and how we move about it. Now, by sustaining I mean mostly nourishment – what we eat, and how we get it. But sustenance can include shelter and clothing as well, because all of these, indeed all material wealth, originates from natural materials, whether harvested or mined from the earth.
The food we eat is our first and strongest connection with the earth, with Earth. What we eat, and how we grow or raise it, plays an enormous role in shaping the structure and direction of society. Today, our food is grown in factories: the ruthless efficiency and standardization we enforce demands that we use chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and herbicides, pasteurization, and other forms of sterilization and homogenization. This food is not sustaining, it is not nourishing, and it is not healthy. In fact: it’s not even food, it’s a product.
Food is one of the biggest expenses in the household. It should be bigger. Food should be the center of our lives, the focus of our work, and the cause for celebration. When you buy cheap food you get the same thing you would looking for a cheap date, a cheap thrill, or anything else cheap: worthless trash.
Whatever your economic status or geographic location it’s becoming more and more likely that there’s small scale, local and organic agriculture near you. Growing food and eating well is becoming more popular as people realize an interest in personal health amidst a sick and starving world. At my local farmers market, a bunch of Kale goes for about the same price as a king-sized snickers, even less than a two-liter of soda. Drop everything and do anything you can to support these small, independent organizations looking out for your health. In a world of genetically modified tortilla chips and a shortage of pollinators, you can’t afford not to.
Thinking like a forest.
One of the first farms I learned from was a small, permaculture inspired homestead in the mountains of New Hampshire. It was there I first learned about the central concepts of permaculture and the maxim – Think Like a Forest.
A forest is a dynamic and diverse community of individuals and organisms, all struggling for simplicity in a complex system. Waste does not exist , and everything is used, reused, reborn, and transformed. Forests are governed by life and death, a balance overlooked in our civilization of infinite growth.
To often we structure our agriculture – our lives – on the principles of uniformity and homogeny, always to the detriment of our health and wellness. Help play the role of responsible steward in the forests of our future, both cultivated and wild – support local agriculture, go into the woods and practice random acts of silence, climb trees, and celebrate the wilderness and diversity of the forest in all of us.