I was chatting with a friend the other day about the food industry, and all I’ve learned about it in the last few months. Trying to fit all those factoids into a short telephone conversation was not easy, and I worried that it sounded so overwhelming when piling it all on at once that my friend might end up just too overwhelmed to consider pursuing the matter any further. With all we’re bombarded with in the media these days: climate change, species extinction, shrinking biodiversity, oceanic plastic waste zones, industrial waste, food shortages…it’s easy to become paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the problem.
It’s easy to say “what good can one person do?” but the more people do something the more the word spreads, the more it catches on…until the tipping point is reached and it suddenly becomes mainstream. This is how many social behavioural changes are made. Whether it is shopping organic, bringing reusable grocery bags to the store, or patronizing fair-trade coffee shops, when enough people start doing it that it becomes noticeable there is the power to make real changes for the better. And, while I am generally moving towards a stance of disgust towards the pervasive consumerism in our society, there are times when consumers can use that Dark Power for Good and prompt real changes in the way things are done.
I myself started on the path of Simple Living as a way to attain better financial health and move closer to our Dream of owning a small acreage. What I found was a way to live a richer and more rewarding life that included a heavy emphasis on living sustainably and developing a relationship with my food and my community. By joining the blog community and finding other inspiring writers who were following similar paths, I began to feel a part of something. But then I would venture out into the Real World and hear stories that make me despair and wonder if things will ever truly change for the better.
Lately, however, I’m finding reasons to feel more optimistic. First, there was this article from a well-respected online independant newspaper. It seems that more and more people are starting to grow their own vegetables at home and developing an interest in local eating. Perhaps the rising cost of food and reports of global food shortages, not to mention the increasing cost of fuel, are causing people to rethink the way they do things. Then there was this inspiring post from Green Bean and the article it referred to naming a new generation out of those who are slowing down and using money more wisely.
This and other things I’m hearing and seeing around me are all bringing focus to the positive change around me, change I’m seeing right now. Around here the CSA’s (community supported agriculture groups) are sold to full capacity. We are, after all, the home of the 100 Mile Diet. Our municipality has recently outlawed throwing any recyclables into the garbage stream; instead of just encouraging people to recycle, they are now mandating it. I’m seeing a significant number of shoppers bringing bags to the store, and most retailers actually ask me if I’d like a bag or not.
So while reading book after book telling me how much we’ve screwed up the planet, I can still look around me and take notice of all the folks doing their little bit toward making things better. And I’m not the only one noticing that word seems to be spreading…It feels good to be a part of that, however small.