A wise individual once said to me, “Buy land because God ain’t making any more of it.”
Regardless of your religious beliefs, or unless you live next to an ocean with an erupting volcano, this statement is still true. It directly appeals to our archaic need for success – the more stuff I own the happier and more successful I am!
Now don’t get me wrong; it is nice to have things to pass down to your children. However, in spite of the belief that obtaining all these “things” is supposed to make us happy, we realize that in the end we were not really happy at all.
How can we be happy if we start from a place of lack? Looking to consistently obtain things we do not have does not create stability or happiness. In our fast-paced rat race to achieve tangible results, we have forgotten how to live. There seems to be something we have forgotten.
We certainly forgot how to cook. If it’s not ready in five minutes or less, then we look for something that will be ready in that time. So then it is okay if our food comes in a paper bag and contains more chemicals than your Nan’s hair dye. Our goal is to be fed, not nourished. The goal is to achieve, not thrive.
As our world continues to change at lightning speed, decisions about our health are being made in real time based on data and financial speculation. So I found it very interesting last March when baking bread became a trend. On our lovely island in the middle of the wild Atlantic, suddenly you could not purchase yeast because it was sold out everywhere.
Like the Nike sneaker craze of the early nineties or that annoying Tickle-Me-Elmo toy store panic of the early 2000s, baking yeast had been transformed into a hot new item. People were stocking up on flour and posting pictures of their biggest achievement of the day, a successful loaf of bread. Stores were running out of supplies.
I noticed, as I scrolled through social media platforms, that this trend was not only local, but it appeared to be happening in numerous places around the globe. It seemed the minute the rat race stalled and we were forced to stay home, we began to nourish ourselves again. We slowed down. We realized that something we had taken for granted, like bread, something we used to purchase without thought, actually takes time to make.
Surprisingly, along with the time it takes to prepare and bake a proper loaf of bread, it soothed some of our pandemic anxiety while we made it. It brought the family together while mixing, patting down, rising and then baking. It reawakened a shared, potent familiar ritual. Perhaps it even allowed us to release some hidden anger as we kneaded the dough. Maybe it reminded us to have patience, as we waited for the dough to rise. Maybe it tasted better when the butter melted on the first slice we ate after we had succeeded in baking our first loaf.
This discovery was followed by an irrationally warm spring on our beautiful island in the north, and suddenly, garden stores and hardware stores were selling out of materials to build greenhouses and plant gardens, as so many more people started growing their own food.
I don’t think any of this was a coincidence. The past year has given us more than our share of questions, fears and irrational bubbled choices, but it has also given us the gift of getting back to basics. We had, somehow, forgotten the basic skills needed for survival, as individuals and as a society. I know I certainly had.
I grew up thinking how stupid it was that they don’t teach you about finances in school, but it’s even more concerning that we can live for forty years on this planet without not knowing how to compost. That we can go decades not knowing how to plant a potato. Decades without knowing how to properly store the food we harvest to last us through the winter. Years not knowing how magical it can be to share with your son a harvest of eight mediocre carrots from the bucket of soil and the seeds you started in May and then placed on your front patio in downtown St. John’s.
How we have missed the weird looks on our neighbours’ faces when we hand them one funky looking carrot because we want to share some of our mini-harvest! What have we missed? Well, it’s a known fact that foods raised without the use of pesticides and chemicals contain more nutrients than those that have been mass produced. It is a known fact that when you eat fresh vegetables harvested just hours before you eat them that you are getting far more of the nutrients that food has to offer. When you purchase food grown in other regions or countries and shipped thousands of miles to your local grocery store, it’s a known fact that it has lost the majority of its nutritional value.
Now, I’m not an expert but I know my body and I know how I feel when I eat certain foods. Over the past year I have purchased everything I could, locally grown. I have connected with nature more and I’ve honestly never felt better. My son and I are excited this year to plan our garden and we are even looking into building some vertical growing options because we lack space. Getting back to basics has provided a welcome change and has helped me redefine success.
As we climb out of this pandemic, or whatever we want to call what we are currently living through, it is important to learn new skills and begin supporting ourselves in as many ways as we can. As we remember that empty shelves can generate mass panic and fear, we will rise above (heh heh) by knowing that we already have yeast and flour in our pantry and that we know how to make bread.
We can take comfort in the fact that we have the ability to grow herbs and certain vegetable inside our homes all year long. We can embrace the many individuals and organizations in our community that are providing an abundance of information to assist us in growing your own food. We can become a little more self-reliant when it comes to basic survival.
In December of 2020, water officially became a traded commodity. Is it wise to invest in water just so our stocks grow and we can call ourselves financially successful? Shall we hand water down to our children as a commodity, something to be owned and sold? Or is it time to pay attention to our shared rights and freedoms and take some responsibility for our own survival, grow our own food and take control of our own health?
Just like our food, everything starts as a seed in the dark.