Why talk about food?
First and foremost we need to talk about food because food = life. Without food – there is no life.
Back Yet Forward finds it is important to ask questions about such a vital and intimate thing as food. Questions such as:
– How is our food currently grown & produced? How does it differ from the food we foraged for, grew and ate in the past?
– What are the impacts of our life as “consumers” on the ecosystem, on society, on individuals? How do our demands affect the requirements placed upon the environment?
We also need to talk about food because of its relationship to our own health & well-being. Everything is connected.
The United States is known around the World as a country that is preoccupied with food & calories, waiting for the next fad diet or a miracle remedy to transform our looks, deliver health or longevity. Despite how much ongoing discussion there seems to be around food – the rates of lifestyle related preventable diseases are alarming. And things don’t seem to be changing.
So what to do? Are we doomed?
I believe that in order to be able to heal, we need to take a closer look within ourselves and within our society, and the big shifts that have happened in the way we see, grow, produce, consume (and waste) food. And the way we live our lives.
We can probably all agree, that we used to know a lot more about our food 200 years ago than we do now. Yet never before has it been more important. With a population of 7 billion and growing, we can no longer live “eyes wide shut”. For quite a while we have been outsourcing the growing and production of our food to entities that we do not know, to multinational corporations. And by doing that, we have given away our most precious gift. Our life. When corporations have taken over the control for most of the seeds in the world, they have the control over life on Earth. I am by no means a conspiracy theorist, yet, some things are just common sense. (They do also say, that it’s too bad that common sense is not too common).
Becoming a little more interested in the “hands that feed us” is one of the ways to feed the tree of awareness, and not the tree of ignorance. For some, ignorance may sure feel like a bliss, but in the grand scheme of things – it is really not.
There are over 7 billion of us humans currently alive, and we are just one of the species to inhabit this Planet. Due to environmental destruction many beautiful species have gone extinct, and many continue to, day after day, as the last remaining parts of their natural habitat are being destroyed. But what about our “habitat”? As the number of people grows, concrete replaces soil, addiction replaces connection, what are we marching towards? It is not all doom and gloom, yet it is becoming increasingly clear, that we have been shortsightedly conquering our own environment for the sake of profit & growth, failing to realize:
We are not separate. We are part of the Whole. Everything is connected.
I understand, that sitting in a golden tower, these connections are somehow not easy to see. People who have never felt misery & hunger, can not imagine misery & hunger. It is only be experiencing dark things, that we can open up our hearts a little bit more to the world.
As our environment is in a state of emergency, we are in a state of emergency. There is no one without the other. While we keep mindlessly consuming & wanting more, we keep exhausting the resources on this Planet, we keep destroying the Earth along with our future. We have been playing “God”, acting as if we “owned” everything on this Planet…But we seem to have forgotten, that what we think we “own”, has been here long before us. And will be here long after us. The truth is – none of this is “ours”. None of this is here explicitly for us. We are not “god”. We are not governing “this”. Yet we have acted as if it were.
While we fail to protect the most vital, by taking & extracting, without ever giving back, we also fail as civilization. The downfall has started. We can all see our social systems struggling, our political systems failing.
The need to see the Bigger Picture and the Connections is urgent.
Instead of talking about climate change, we need to talk about consciousness change.
Instead of talking about electing the “right leader” to fix our problems, we need to look at our lives more closely.
We need to talk about what is it that we yearn for. Why is it that we always want “more”?
And is it maybe that we have looked at the wrong place?
We need to change the underlying story that got us here in the first place.
Let’s not forget – us, humans, are conscious beings, capable of being aware & acting upon our morals and wisdom. If we choose to.
The challenges that we are currently faced with (the most imminent of which being food security in a changing climate, on a global scale), can be solved with going back to the root of things. If our lack of morals, lack or responsibility & lack of awareness got us here, it is exactly the opposites that are going to get us out. I believe that humanity has what it takes to change the course we are on. For better.
What is our current (food) system like?
“The current system accumulates profits for a few at immeasurable costs to the environment and society. A shift to environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically viable agriculture will require a fundamental transformation of the dominant agricultural system and development model to one that promotes equity and well-being of people and the planet as explicit goals”.
- Trade & Environment Review 2013 “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late”, Page 288
While the “developed” world throws away 1/3 of the food produced, yet somehow in today’s America, 1 in 5 children goes to bed hungry…While some of us are weight-conscious and constantly on a diet, boggling our minds with questions such as “carbs” vs. “fats”, looking for a recipe for the net miracle super-food on Pinterest…others don’t know when and if will be their next meal. It truly is a world a contrasts.
Over 1 billion of people across the globe are starving (that is: dying of hunger), whereas America and other highly industrialized countries are “starving” in their own way. Things are out of balance. And we can no longer live like this. A tipping point has arrived.
If we are to survive – restoring balance is crucial.
Despite the abundance & an illusion of choice, America is getting sicker. Emotionally, physically, socially. Despite the abundance of the Natural World, we have managed to create a World of Scarcity, a World of Fear. A World where a few feast, and where the rest – barely survives. Our systems, including our food system, and political systems, are being challenged & changed. If we don’t change the lens through which we see the world, if we continue talking about producing MORE instead of living BETTER – we fail. The polarization feeds the ever-so-increasing gap. Yet, we have the power to truly come together. I know it.
As much as we’re made to believe that “change starts from the very top” – change actually starts with individuals. Once we realize that change is in our own hands, nothing can stop us. Becoming aware of these dynamics is the first step in the transformation that humanity is currently going through. And that’s what I’m going to start with. Awareness.
The “Back yet Forward” approach to food
I am inspired by the past. Not in an overly simplistic “the-good-old-days” kind of a way, but in a “I -think-there-is-something-we-can-learn-from-it” way.
Once again, let’s remember…We are not separate. We are part of the whole.
In the food-field it means that us, humans, are meant to consume Real Food. Food that our ancestors would recognize as food, foods that our bodies recognize as fuel, foods that are nutrient-dense & wholesome. I call these “one-ingredient-foods”. To put it simple: foods that were here on Earth long before I was here. Long before you were here. (I am not currently going to discuss hybridization, selection, and other ways that mankind has tried to circumvent nature. After-all, most of the crops we eat today is a modern varietal of something from the past).
So, leaving aside the fact, that yes, even our fruits and vegetables are “not the same” they were centuries ago, let’s keep it simple. Do the best that you can with the means that you have. Look for the wisdom in the past. Look at the roots.
That means, that if you are looking to improve your health & well-being through food, choose wholesome foods that are in their natural state or that are traditionally prepared, whether wild or sustainably grown/harvested. As these are foods that make us thrive. Foods where nothing is added & nothing is taken away, foods that are not reformulated to be something that they are not. Turning back to the connected way of eating, foraging the wild foods in your nearby forest, acquainting the small family farmers in your area, growing some of your own food, can (& will) directly improve our quality of life & indirectly improve the quality of life of others.
I don’t see it…How does what & how I eat have anything to do with anyone else?
Well – this is the “bigger picture” question. Simple, really, if you think of it.
Eating is one of our daily activities that has the largest direct impact on the environment as well as on other people’s lives – whether or not we see the connection or the outcome right away. Most of us in this country, engage in “the act of eating” 3 times a day. Whether at home or out at a restaurant, whether we have opted for a vegan diet or a diet rich in animal-protein – we all vote with our dollar or simply, with our choice, every time we pay for or choose a product or a service, or every time that we don’t (may it be food, clothing, form of entertainment, and so on).
It is either a positive vote – supporting humane & sustainable practices that treat the environment with the love it deserves, and the farmers, growers, workers, and animals with the respect they deserve. Using practices, that regenerate, not degenerate.
Or it can be a negative vote – supporting people and corporations that have little understanding of the laws of the natural world, and that offer little integrity & transparency, overall contributing to the ever-rising inequality in our world: the system where a few feast & the rest is trying to survive.
Our daily little actions, whether we understand the importance of them or not, are affecting the world we live in every step of the way. The role we have to play in “creating the world we envision” is much greater than what we have been told to.
We do not just cast a vote at a local election, our main power relies in how we live. What is our footprint? What do we contribute? What do we give? What do we support?
If we wish to create a more just and sustainable world, becoming aware of the impact we have is the first step.
“There’s enough on this planet for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi
I wish to do better! But…Where do I start?
Well. There are countless ways to make a positive impact, but as first and foremost Back Yet Forward talks about food – my advice is to start with your food choices. It is the most direct way, and absolutely everyone has the power to contribute to changing the food landscape, little by little. No matter where you currently are in your life – whether you are on a tight budget relying on ready-to-eat foods and assistance from food banks and pantries, whether you are a busy single mom trying to figure out what to feed your kids, a gym addict whose meals are made out of protein-shakes, a vegan or a meat-lover – anyone can step-by step make changes that will contribute to a more aware, happier & healthier you, all while creating a more beautiful world. Or maybe you hunt, fish, grow most of your food during the growing season and preserve the rest? In which case, you have a lot to share with the people around you!
(I speak here in the language of the “developed”, “Western” world, where Western diet reigns. Most of the world does not have the privilege to even be thinking about the many different options they have as what comes to the next meal. People eat because they need to survive. They eat what is available).
We are truly blessed here, in the “West”, yet, we are really not doing OUR BEST. Doing our best starts with connections, with relations, with creating your community, your tribe. It starts with celebrating life and the abundance that it offers, if we only let it.
You wish to learn more about food? If you would like to have personal one-on-one guidance (don’t worry about financials) – check out my Gift Economy Consultations
These consultations are aimed to help you navigate the food landscape & encourage you make the changes you are ready for with the means that you have.
I look forward to connecting with you!