Food From Home
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
"By this action, what am I saying 'yes' to?"
-Charles Eisenstein, The Yoga of Eating
Deep into last winter I had my doubts we'd ever feel the warmth of July again. Yet here we are, well into summer, the season of abundance, the earth putting forth food in full force. And with all that production comes opportunity. Opportunity not only to seize fresh, nutrient-dense, full-flavoured produce, but to connect more deeply with place and shape the world we live in. Because eating is, after all, both a partaking in nature and, as Michael Pollan said, a political act. Take these ways of procuring your food, for example:
Ambling through your local urban or natural space with an eye out for wild edibles is a sure way to cultivate connection to place and season. Be it dandelions in your sidewalk or wild berry bushes on a hillside, it's astounding how much freely growing food the earth gives us and how little of it we take advantage of. This puts us in a position of direct belonging and participation with our ecology, yet outside of the consumer economy.
Saskatoon berries in Cochrane
GROWING YOUR OWN
Pots on the deck; a small or large garden patch; a greenhouse; perennials yielding fruit, herbs, or greens. Coaxing edibles out of the soil by your own hand builds intimate knowledge of what it takes to grow food (fertility, water, sunshine...) as well as local weather and climate. Plus, by reclaiming some of the power to feed yourself from distant corporations you shift slightly who controls your sustenance.
Kale in our raised bed garden
Buying from local producers doesn't tie us as viscerally to our food as when we collect or grow it ourselves, but it does attune us to what our climate and the changing seasons can offer. By paying a farmer or rancher for their product, we help sustain the knowledge they hold that's particular to place and their personal stewardship of rural lands. If we ask questions we can discern how closely each producer's practices align with the world we wish to shape. One where holistic practices lead to ecosystem health? One where animals are allowed to live according to their nature as a species? In this sense, we cease to be merely consumers and become co-producers to some degree.
There are times of year when the grocery store is nearly our only choice for food procurement. And for most of us it's almost always needed to supplement what we get elsewhere. But during the months when produce is overflowing locally, to continue to buy nothing but the same ol' imported items is a bit like saying "yes" (even unconsciously) to a world where we remain ignorant of natural cycles, where we lack the regional knowledge of how to sustain ourselves, and where flavour and nutrition are sacrificed to convenience. True, even supermarkets carry some regional products and though we may not be able to determine the practices used by the producer, we can at least choose these over ones coming to us out of season from half the world away. (Check that bag of pear - this time of year they may be coming from Australia!)
This isn't to say we should only allow ourselves to consume wild-harvested, hand-cultivated, or small neighbouring farm-grown foods. It's to say soak up what brilliant edibles you can while they're plentiful, with the awareness that their source has the potential to connect you more deeply to your place in the world and to shape our physical, political, social, and economic landscapes. And just soak them up because they're delicious!