The Act of Feeding Yourself Has Never Been More Important
It’s an interesting right of passage that we go through as children – the BIG STEP of feeding ourselves.
As babies, our parents coo and cajole, “Here comes the airplane . .. . zoooom” as they fly the spoon to an open (or stubbornly closed) mouth.
And then at some point, we take hold of that spoon. We shakily lift the food to our own mouth and oh how proud we are!
Oh how proud our parents are: “Look at how she feeds herself!” The room is full of smiles. It is a BIG DAY!
Of course, we don’t have a memory of this event. But it is told and retold through pictures and video, and later through our own experiences with our children: “Mom how did you ever get me to eat as a baby, little Cindy Lou won’t open her mouth for the spoon!”
Feeding ourselves. A critical step in our maturity.
A fundamental step representing our independence.
So what the heck happens to us as grown-ups?
Most of us would be horrified to be spoon-fed (except perhaps on occasion in a romantic sort of way by a partner).
When we are sick or old, we once again become focused on the importance of feeding ourselves as a key factor in how independent we are. We are often ashamed of our weakness if we cannot manage this important daily act on our own.
On some level, we all know that the ability to feed ourselves is a determining factor in our ability to function as an independent person.
And yet, we – as communities, as nations – have lost control over huge segments of our own food supply?
How is it that we are complacent about where that food – that factor critical to our very survival and independence – comes from?
There is an incredible disconnect between how we view our food which we spoon into our mouths and THAT FOOD as it is grown on the land. It is mystifying at times. It’s the same food. Or at least it should be!
We have become complacent about the outsourcing of our food supply as if feeding ourselves somehow no longer reflects on our independence.
Worse still, we have actively supported that outsourcing by our purchasing patterns. We stand, open mouthed, waiting for the food plane to arrive? Or the boat or the truck? And we still think we are independent as adults, as communities and as nations? We need to think again.
We bought into this – hook, line and sinker.
We have been lulled into giving up our independence in the name of convenience and of cheap food. We have been cajoled like children into compliance. And we throw our money at food giants who don’t care what we eat as long as we are paying them for it, while the growers and producers become ever more poor.
And now, in the face of this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s the perfect time for us to shake that all off, to stand up, and to take action for secure local food that we need for our families and communities and nations right at home.
There is no good reason why Canadian communities (or other nations) are not more food independent and able to weather this crisis. Yes, some communities are pretty far north, indeed, but with the amazing production technology that exists today, and the innovations of thousands of food producers big and small, food can be grown nearly everywhere. For example, chickens can be productive in nearly every condition that humans live in, and thus there should be a local supply of eggs everywhere.
There is no excuse.
It’s time to make food a fundamental and unconditional part of our community official plans. It’s time to make the regulations work FOR local food supplies instead of hamstringing them with endless regulations and red tape that no small business can overcome. And it’s time to manage the “health risks” of local food in a more pragmatic way.
Local Food Health Risks Are Minor
Because every time someone starts a conversation about local food, out come the HEALTH REGULATIONS which fret over every possible variation of sickness and disease that ever once happened to anyone anywhere as a result of eating food. And as a result of this myopic focus, the regulations get more and more and more extreme as to what is needed in the name of safety, until suddenly your food must be prepared in a sterile laboratory, vacuum sealed and irradiated!
Let’s get real. Millions of people world wide go hungry every single day. As many as 1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure. We need to give our heads a shake. This is a direct result of our food priorities, food health policies and politics.
The reality is that people have walked out into their backyards and plucked carrots and potatoes right out of the dirt for generations, folks, and we are all still here. Yup, right there out of the cow manure compost and everything! They wash it and peel it on a kitchen counter and put it in the pot.
The NEED to hyper-control food is nothing more than a control issue itself – it’s an argument that just gets more circular over time with regulations breeding regulations like a bacteria colony. It’s food safety with OCD.
Yes – some people will suffer from food-borne illnesses from time to time and YES we need to work every single day to minimize that.
But has all this control stopped food-borne illness in Canada or anywhere else in the world? No. In fact, the more intertwined and international the food supply has become, the bigger the outbreaks and impacts of food-borne disease have become. It’s not rocket science.
Hyper-control of food in the name of health regulations serves corporate interests and generates phenomenal food waste in our system. “Waste” that would otherwise feed thousands. It is completely possible to create safe food practices that do not require layers of paperwork and inspection to achieve. Households and farmers world wide do this every day with amazing success!
A localized food supply simply cannot contaminate thousands of people across the country because the distribution is LOCAL. Issues can be much more readily identified and corrected quickly without mass recalls and without mass causalities. It’s a better and safer system, and one that is far more resilient to pandemics than outsourcing vast amounts of the food supply. It’s been called food security for a very good reason.
So it’s time to roll up your sleeves!
It’s time to assert your independence again over food.
No matter where you live, there are things you can do to help ensure that a local food supply is re-started and always available.
Maybe that is participating in a community garden.
Maybe it looks like guerilla gardening in any vacant lot you can find.
Maybe it’s a planter on your balcony or windowsill.
Big or small, connecting to food is an important step in embracing your independence. FEED YOURSELF.
Beyond any of those direct food growing actions, what this most certainly involves is asking questions of local community leaders and regional districts and governments about how local food is being PRIORITIZED right now. Prioritized over airplanes and boats and trucks that deliver food. Prioritized over global food giant agendas.
Because the real challenge in the “local food priority” conversation is that the WTO (that’s right – The World Trade Organization) does NOT want you to prioritize local food at all. It wants the cheapest global source of food to be on your plate and it wants the corporate food giants to win . . . every time.
The WTO is protecting the food giants, not people, not health. Our trade agreements are part of what is killing us.
Which is why each one of us, as adults concerned about our independence, needs to stand up and ensure that our food supply – the food going into our mouths on spoons held by our own hands – is coming from predominantly from local sources.
Because when we outsource our food supply, we have handed away our independence.
SHARE your food projects on social media – and help spread the word that local food needs to be prioritized right now.
Resilience in the face of this, and future, pandemics requires food security for all.
Looking for further resources?
(Note the following recommendations contain affiliate links, which if you purchase the book using the link, provide a small contribution towards my writing. I only recommend books or products that I have used myself. If you prefer not to do that, just google the book title yourself.)
Looking to understand how we can build a better world where people are not going hungry? Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics is a must read!
Michael Pollan’s book Omnivore’s Dilemma taught me more about modern food systems and the challenges faced by us all when trying to find healthy food for our families than nearly any other book that I have read. I highly recommend this enlightening, entertaining, and yet serious read.
Interested in gardening, but not weeding? Then the Square Foot method is the best choice!
For backyard chicken keeping, my bible is Harvey Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Few books see more use in my household than this one (except maybe cookbooks).
Looking to add some small-scale beef instead? Joel Salatin provides a road map for producing beef on grass, without feed additives or grain.
And what about for children? In this time of grief and loss, I have two garden-related picks for parents. These two books helped me help my children when my father died, and in reading them, they helped me to heal too.