Once we were farmers
Over the past 12,000 years, the age of agriculture, most of us were farmers. We were wedded to the land that fed us. The foods we grew defined who we were; people of wheat, or corn, or rice. The seasons dictated our diets, our harvests and festivals. Then less than a hundred years ago, in a burst of incredible oil-fuelled ingenuity, humanity managed to create a cheap and abundant food supply grown by a handful of producers freeing the rest of us to pursue our dreams in the cities and towns.
Cheap is not always cheap
Sadly we’re paying for our cheap, abundant food. We’re paying through a growing disconnection from the natural world, to the point where we have little idea when we buy a chicken breast or a bag of salad mix where it comes from, who raised it and how, what chemicals and how much energy were used to grow, process, pack, store and ship it. When compared to everything else we’re doing to our planet, industrial agriculture is by far and away the most expensive human pastime.
Deep down we yearn
Deep down we yearn to reconnect to the natural world we’ve stepped away from. Once we intimately knew the cycles of the seasons, the moon, the tides, the names of stars, how to care for animals, how to build soils, how to save seeds, when to plant, what plants healed or harmed. We knew the names of wild animals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects, the times they would come and go, when to hunt them and when to leave them. We worked the land with our bodies, and when we died the land took us back. We told stories and sang songs to pass this knowledge on, stories and songs we have forgotten but would love to tell and sing again.
The Fair Food Movement
How do we begin to reconnect with our food? There is no single more important thing you can do than simply grow food in your garden even, if it’s only in a pot or a poly box. Second, buy local and organic. Food grown close to where we live supports local economies, reduces food miles and cold storage, and is naturally in-season. We can also get to know the people who grow our food either at farmers markets or on a farm visit. Buying organic means supporting small diverse farms that treat animals humanely, use natural inputs, are GM free, build soils and protect wild habitat. We can also buy together. When we group together around food we not only save money, we begin to build resilient communities; we meet people, swap stories, recipes, make preserves together, or just say ‘hi’ when we come to pick up our weekly veggie box. Small things but important things.
For more information see www.foodconnect.com.au or www.ceresfairfood.org.au