Monday, February 16, 2009


"Man is free and everywhere is in chain stores."- Graffiti
After reading the book Plenty, about a couple's year long adventure of eating locally produced foods within 100 miles of their British Columbia home, I realized I have a lot of learning to do. They came to discover that a typical food ingredient found in a family meal travels roughly 2,000 miles before it reaches a supermarket shelf and then to the plate on your table. Beginning this experiment, they overestimated their enthusiasm and began to second guess themselves. It was a challenge. They lost weight because their diet consisted of little else but potatoes. As they began to discover the ecology of their region, the agricultural growing seasons of the local produce, and formed relationships with farmers and area store merchants, they began to see scarcity transform into bounty. Meals consisting of strictly potatoes turned into sandwiches filled with peppers, grilled mushrooms, and "delectably oozing goat cheese". They soon discovered a revitalization of their spirit anchored in tradition, culture, and community. They were transformed by a sense of freedom from the automatic, impersonal tendency to grab what is around to seeking what can be found. They recognized a self sufficiency in themselves that only comes with hard work and a rooted awareness of belonging to a place and feeling a part of it. Which makes me wonder, how well do I know my home, my place in the Pacific Northwest?
This got me thinking about urban life and how easy it is to become disconnected from nature. Recently I was listening to a segment on NPR called, This Ain't No Walk in the Park, about a young woman taking her anxieties of the outdoors to a whole new level by attempting to overcome her fear of dirt, bugs, grass, and everything natural. City kid or not, we are all faced with the challenge of not only feeling a part of nature and our place in it, but educating ourselves so we have the knowledge to make informed decisions about where our food comes from, what impacts we are making on the environment, and using our bountiful resources wisely and in a way that leads to healthier, peaceful, and community based lives.
In order to discover the plenty of what is before us, why not participate in the growing effort to reconnect ourselves and our lifestyles back to nature? Start by discovering something new about where it is you call home. This week find out what is in season (Seattle produce calender) at your local farmers market or take advantage of a sunny day and identify common bird or plant species on a nature walk. Whatever you do, unlock the chains that keep you strictly in the supermarket or on pavement and find your way back to something natural.

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