But lately I've been getting a third reaction, and I've been reading about it too. It is now the "in" thing to be sustainable and a locavore and to have a vegetable garden. Just Google "sustainability" and discover that everyone -- fishermen, cities, schools, even Coca-Cola talk about moving towards sustainability. I don't think I even used the word "sustainable" seven years ago. The word, "locavore," had not been coined yet when we moved out here in 2002. I just wanted organic food and was sick of trying to navigate corporate America's definitions in the grocery store -- what's the difference between regular eggs, cage-free, and organic? And how much time does an organic cow really spend outside? The sustainable movement was well on its way a year ago when "locavore" was declared the word of 2007, then the bottom fell out of the economy, and now growing your own is the thing to do to save money. Or, as Business Week put it,
The message seems to be: If you buy organic, you care about your own body; if you buy local, you care about your body and the environment.Although we do care about our body and the environment, when we first decided to move out here, it was because we didn't trust big business to be honest with us about what they were doing. We'd been eating organic since the late 1980s, but as organic became trendy, BigAg got involved and started splitting hairs. The ink wasn't even dry on the organic food legislation when businesses starting looking for exemptions -- can we call our product organic if we want to use organic grain, but none is available for 100 miles?
I don't think I'm particularly smart or nuts, and I am definitely not trendy, since I chose to live and eat naturally more than 20 years ago. So, what's my point? I don't think you have to be smart or nuts or trendy to eat healthier, have a vegetable garden, and shop at a farmer's market or join a CSA. As humans, we are teachable. We can learn new habits and skills. When we hear that our diet is not good for our bodies or our planet, we don't have to wring out hands and declare, "Woe is us! We are doomed!" Without any sort of extraordinary intelligence or rabid enthusiasm, we can:
- shop at a farmer's market
- find local farmers through Local Harvest and join a CSA
- start a garden
- grow a tomato plant on the patio
- grow herbs on the window sill above the kitchen sink
- grow alfalfa sprouts on your kitchen counter
- or grow tulips in your living room (see photo)
As for brains . . . well, no one is born knowing how to grow tomatoes, incubate chicken eggs, milk a goat, or birth a lamb. I've read lots of books and found mentors over the Internet. Without the mentors, I'd have made a lot more mistakes than I did, and that's why I'm always willing to help new people.
So, if you find yourself saying, "I wish I could do that," stop wishing and start doing something. Just because you don't have sheep for wool to make an afghan doesn't mean that you can't start with something as small as a pot of herbs. Figure out exactly what you want to do and decide how you can start to make it a reality. If you only have a small apartment, you can start growing alfalfa sprouts, herbs, and tomatoes. If you have a yard, you can start planning a small garden for 2009. And if you have more land, start looking into what it would take for you to have a small flock of chickens or a couple of goats for milk. It's really not that hard -- really.