Creating Change Starts Here
I believe that it is by the actions of individuals and families that change happens. Therefore, I strongly support the ethos of starting with whatever you have right now that will create change. It can be as simple as sowing a seed in a tiny space no matter how small just start and become a model for others to create change. When you plant the seed and watch it grow it seriously does make magic happen. That is how I started teaching farm to table cooking classes back in the 90’s. Sharing the gift of food is one of the greatest gifts we can offer another.
In many of his writings, Oshawa one of our Japanese teachers used the parable of “One Grain, Ten Thousand Grains” to explain the importance of giving to others. The phrase refers to how a single grain when germinated eventually gives birth to thousands of grains.
According to Oshawa, we should follow nature’s example and use it as a guiding principle for how we should live our lives. We can find true happiness by following in the path of nature, that gives continuously such things as food, water and air. Practicing giving also creates a kind of mysterious circuit in which the giver is rewarded even more than he or she has given. If anyone gives you something of value, you should be prepared to return it (or give it forward) ten thousand times.
Lessons From the Past – Directions For The Future
Oshawa’s parable always reminds me of my childhood when at harvest time my mum and dad would help us make food parcels that my sisters, brother and I would take to children’s homes, hospitals and the elderly. It was such a special feeling to share all the food that was collected in the community to do this. Sharing is caring and I truly believe that we feel the greatest connection when food operates at the local or community level.
In my community I see so many families who are disconnected from nutritious food, active lifestyles, and the natural world. This leads to physical and mental ill health. Reconnecting to food, people and the natural environment helps to preserve natural resources, strengthen communities and increase our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
If we look back over the past five decades at the food production systems in the West, there has been a huge trend towards industrialisation. It’s really quite shocking to see that humans were once 80 percent rural, and now we are 80 percent urban. In my own community growing up in Scotland there was the wonderful slow food movement, and I was so proud at the young age of 16 to be a part of that.
Changing economic conditions coupled with this dislocation from food sources means that in areas of high poverty in inner cities and remote rural areas people cannot easily access fresh, locally grown produce. In the past these people would have been able to grow their own or were able to glean local farmers fields, or their neighbours would give them any surplus produce from their gardens. Without local or community food systems these options don’t exist.
Educating The Youth
Recently Bill and I hosted our Tasty Tips For Kids workshop and we asked the children where their bread came from. They all said a factory. When we showed them soil and grain one little boy said, my food doesn’t grow in dirt, it doesn’t, it comes from the factory. Children are growing up not knowing where their food comes from, not just where it is produced but also how it is produced. Not only have children lost their connection to the food they eat, their parents and communities have. There is so much work to do and we all need to connect and create exciting projects to turn this situation around.
Community food systems are one of the most important ways we can lead a connected life. These systems connect us to our food, to our local area, to the producers of our food, and other people in the community who belong to the same community food system. I am encouraged by the amazing projects already out there that can be duplicated to bring this wonderful way of living back to our world. Community food systems result in increased food security and greater community self-reliance. These food systems allow us opportunities to support people in our community who are disadvantaged and who may not otherwise have access to fresh, organic food.
Human Ecology Project
We are also able to develop social systems that can support social sustainability. In 2003 Bill and I wrote our 2020 vision, our Human Ecology Project that encompasses all that we love and teach. If we apply the considerations of personal health, social justice, environmental concerns, and ethical considerations that we have taught for many decades to our students, then we arrive at our Human Ecology Project. We will now share this on a much larger scale. Our educational programmes will be delivered via video, articles on the website and our community outreach programmes. In Spring we look forward once again to having a base to run our courses from growing food being at the top of the agenda along with cooking classes. It’s one for all and all for one.
The Personal becomes Planetary
We believe in the power of small acts. There is a resistance by many to believe in the power of individuals to create significant change. This is often used as a braking mechanism by those with vested interest in maintaining power. This is no time for pessimism it is a time for action. In the words of anthropologist Margret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”
I live it and love it daily. My passion for a healthy world for human and nonhuman alike has me jump out of bed every morning.
In good health