We got our new precious strawberry plants into the ground! All 150 of them! Thank you so much to our volunteers, Claire and Corbin for coming out this week to lend a hand. We were blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day and worked all day amending the soil, building new garden beds, laying…Keep reading
I saw this bumper sticker on a car last week while driving through Arcata, this beautiful ocean side, ecologically minded community where we are all fortunate to call home. This message has always been an important one, but somehow feels more pressing and urgent than ever before. Consuming consciously has long been my focus in life and I want to stress how it must be part of our awareness during this time.
Growing up on a small farm in rural Wisconsin, I had the good fortune to be raised in a way that was close to the land and near neighbors who never even learned how to drive, German elders who plowed their fields with draft horses, or grew much of their food and stocked up for the winter. These characters and my deep connection and relationship to that bountiful land are in large part how I’ve become who I am today. And with that intimate connection to place and the people who also dwelled very closely to this land, I became at a young age, very acutely aware of the significance of our impact on the land, the planet and the beings that we share space with and depend on for our survival. At the age of 14 I had decided that I was going to be a farmer, enrolled in a renowned “alternative” high school in Ann Arbor, MI that allowed for independent studies, found a Buddhist farmer mentor named Richard at Tantre Farm (www.tantrefarm.com), and determined to satisfy this expectation and drive to participate in my own survival and to be connected to that which fed me. At that juncture in my life, I knew that to consume consciously was about being in relationship to that which gave me life and I wanted to grab ahold of that experience knowing the richness and meaning that comes with those relationships. After high school, after a few great adventures, I decided to attend Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona to earn a degree in Environmental Education and Agroecology. Agroecology is a field of study that focuses on how to be ecologically minded in our agricultural systems instead of other programs that focus on the agribusiness side of it all, or precision/mechanized agriculture that has really dominated our farming practices. We got to hop into 14 passenger vans and visit farms throughout the desert southwest who demonstrated ecologically sustainable farming techniques–Hopi dry corn farmers, Zuni waffle gardens, even ancient archaeological farm sites where their water catching swales and berms remained part of the landscape slowing the water for plants that still inhabit those ancient garden beds. And on the flip side, we visited huge industrial farms with corporate offices, factory farmed pigs, and monstrous farm equipment that virtually drove themselves.
I think some people have this idea that consuming consciously is about eating healthy, or eating according to what the new hip dietary fad is. Eating consciously might be about eating low fat, or becoming vegan. And eating is definitely the implication with the word “consuming.” And what we eat is in large part what we do indeed consume. But theirs more, WAY more. After studying about food and agriculture for so many years, I have come to the next chapter in my mission to be connected to that which feeds me and gives me life. I became aware that in order to be more deeply connected to that which gives me life, I must become aware of ALL of the life that offers life line to us humans–fiber plants that give us clothing, the living waters that quench our thirst, fill our bodies, and wombs, the rocks, metals mined from the earth, packaging, transportation of goods, issues of labor, soils, landscapes, birds, bees, all the life that is impacted is so significant! I think that consuming consciously is very much relational. Consuming consciously is about knowing, as intimately as possible, where your food and clothing, building materials, soaps, coffee, paper, ink, everything!! comes from. Just imagine if you lived with this knowing… Can you do it? Have you tried? Consuming consciously is very much about origins. What is the origin of this lettuce? Where was it grown? Who are the farmers? Where do they come from? What is the ancestral story of lettuce? Imagine knowing these rich stories. Our who world opens up. We find more meaning and connection with what is around us and then it can become an actual relationship and reciprocity can exist. We are no longer consumers but an integral part of the whole. So really, to take it a step further, let us become:
“Participating Consumers” or “Reciprocal Consumers”
It’s one thing to be conscious of what we are consuming, where it comes from, and the rich stories of all these lives who feed us, but let us be in relationship and participation with these beings. Lets really take it to this level. Lets remember our grandparents and great grandparents who lived with less, but had that richness and deep connection and reverence for what they did have. They still had skills from the past such as gardening, spinning fiber, knitting, sewing, canning, quilting, butchering, animal husbandry, hunting, and storytelling which spoke life and meaning into these skills. And before our grandparents and before the industrial revolution, all people had no choice but to consume consciously. And participate. I want the world to start to participating again. And if not participate, at the very least, consume consciously. Our planet and ALL that makes the planet the beautiful life giving body that she is, really urgently need us ALL to do this. And it’s not about just begrudgingly picking up a shovel or hoe, its about finding the local farmers and supporting your local economy, it’s about understanding the the most delicious ways to honor and prepare that factory farmed pork and know the story of that breed of pig and what that pig was before it was domesticated. It’s about signing up for CSA (community supported agriculture) and getting locally raised produce. Heck, go sign up for a volunteer day at that farm and meet some new friends. Get to know how your food grows. It’s about connecting with cycles of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, the planets and constellations. Sing a heartfelt song to the corn goddess. Learn the ancient songs that your ancestors sang to honor the rye, wheat, or barley. Sing those songs. Light a candle for those ancestors. Speak praise to all of lives that died to feed you. And instead of feeling sad and guilty, live your life with as much beauty and grandeur that you can to honor those lives. Dress with beauty, sing with beauty, lean into the person that you where meant to be and bring this the world because we need all of you. This is to consume consciously. Solstice blessings to you all! May this returning of the light stir in you your soul seeds during this time in the world where we all must show up and take the bull by the horn in this year of the bull.