I recently put a call out for bloggers to review the Greenside Up seed collections. I didn’t pay them to write nice things, just sent boxes out and hoped they’d like them. It’s quite nerve-wracking waiting to read other people’s reactions to a product you’ve put your heart and soul into, but without feedback how do we know we’re doing the right thing? You can read the bloggers responses to the boxes or enter the giveaways by clicking on the links at the end of this piece. In the meantime I wanted to share with you why I’m so enthusiastic about grow your own, what gives me this passion for my work and why I so badly want you all to try it.
As I look through my google reader it’s overflowing with stories about horse meat in ready-made meals, about the perils of genetically modified foods, about climate change, global warming, about the desperate situation the bees are in and how farmers are struggling to make ends meet.
Primarily these news stories all have one thing in common – they’re about the environment we live in and our food chains.
When the western world grasped industrialisation and become more “civilised” it lost touch with very basic life essentials. Within one, perhaps two generations, we forgot how to feed ourselves.
As a result of this mass production a vast number of the population began to rely on others to provide basic food products in the form of milk, diary, grains, meat, fish and vegetables. Now, in the most part, we no longer know where or how the food we eat is made or originates from.
The majority seem to have accepted this and don’t think twice about it. We’re like children, enjoying the fact that someone else hands us our food in exchange for a few coins. We lead busy lives, we no longer have time to milk cows, make butter and fatten the proverbial calf. It’s very convenient for us to cover our ears and not think too deeply about the aspects of the food industry we’re uncomfortable with and as a result we’ve definitely become more squeamish.
Unless our meat is wrapped in neat little cellophane packets and no longer resemble the animals they originated from, we no longer cook or eat them.
As long as food’s cheap we ignore the fact that farmers are being paid a pittance to supply the chains, that plants are being blasted with chemicals in fields and factories, that animals don’t see the light of day while they’re fattened up for slaughter.
My Dad was reared on pigs trotters and tripe, rabbit and pheasant, whelks and eels by a family who wouldn’t think twice about wringing a hens neck & preparing it for the table. Yet just one generation later the mere thought would send us children squealing in horror and begging for a tin of baked beans to be opened! We didn’t have to eat the offal, there were very cheap and easy to prepare palatable sounding alternatives available.
But now we’re witnessing the folly of our ways. We’re finding that many of the people we trusted with our food have no real regard for the health or well being of us, our livestock or our planet. To some large producers and chain stores food is a commodity and as such needs to balance books and tick boxes on spreadsheets, no matter how it’s achieved. It’s not the producers responsibility to ensure we’re healthy or the suppliers concern if a farmer can’t pay his feed bills, their main objectives are to make food products and they want to sell as many of them as possible. Yes there are guidelines and rules, but human beings break rules. In order to survive, to keep the money pouring into their bank accounts the people we entrusted to feed us have had to find the cheapest ways they can to fill our shelves regardless of the consequences. In doing so they’ve destroyed our trust and they’ve let us down.
If anything good has come out of this horse meat fiasco it’s that people are waking up. Sloppy, corrupt and unappetising practices are being uncovered and thankfully questions are being asked.
So what can we as individuals do to regain control of the food we’ve distanced ourselves from and help the planet at the same time?
We can start by cutting the food chain.
- We can support local growers and small food producers that we know to be as passionate about their food as we are.
- We can stop buying ready meals and start teaching kids and adults how to cook again.
- We can start writing to our TDs and telling them how we feel.
- We can insist on honest labeling
- We can demand that those who break the rules are brought to justice.
- We can eat less meat.
If we don’t have the space we can get together with family or neighbours and share produce. We can consider keeping hens, pigs, bees or sheep. We can start to become more self-sufficient as individuals or as groups by creating community supported agriculture farms.
Something as simple as growing a few veggies in our gardens, allotments or community gardens immediately cuts the chain from field to fork. It puts us back In touch with nature, it broadens our minds, makes us think about and want to protect our environment, wildlife and our planet. Growing vegetables gives us a sense of achievement when we watch a plant grow that we can eat, it’s tremendously fulfilling in its simplicity and it empowers us.
Isn’t it quite amazing that sowing a few seeds can do that for us?
So if you’d like to grow your own or encourage someone else to do so why not make 2013 the year you start.
Fiona from Hunters Lodge Living has a competition to win a box on her self sufficiency blog.
Margaret O’Brien is a GIYer with a blog called Writing Changes Lives and she captured the essence of the gift box beautifully.
And Marian Hearne is running a giveaway competition on her colourful site Herbi & Carni which is full of Dairy Free & Spelt Free Living.
If you’d like to learn more about growing your own food or green issues that affect us all you can sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page.
Have you any views on this? Can you see food cooperatives forming as a result of the scandals or your own shopping habits changing?