I went back to town, running some errands, when in the lobby of a department store I reposed a bit and pondered at the regular shoppers pushing their brimming carts through the doorway…
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I were just like them, in the University district of Seattle. Granted, we began prioritizing the health food stores already, food still rolled and gathered across aisles, our catch of the day walked home in shopping bags. The urban foraging that takes different muscles and a very different kind of thinking.
In a way, it’s playing it safe, or rather relegating responsibilities in as many different directions, as many products in our bags. But then, is this way of nourishing ourselves safe, or do we only delude ourselves that dozens of producers of our quasi choice (manufacturers and growers) as well as hundreds of specialized touching hands amount to sufficient guarantee for our wellbeing? Now, for our feeding, it certainly seems more or less satisfactory enough, but in order for us to achieve and maintain vibrant health this kind of eating in rosy twilight most definitely has lots of shortcomings. And let me tell you, as a gluten, A1 dairy, starch and legume sensitive person, I have found this out the slow and hard way – this equals vulnerability, wholesale.
There is always a point in the producing, handling and processing chain beyond which virtually all food manufacturers cease assuming further responsibility of their own. The phenomenon of cross-contamination is a prime example. And I’m not even talking hygiene here, just pure food awareness. Those who live with food allergies and still prefer eating out from time to time, know what I mean.
Replacing front- and backyard ornamental gardens with vegetable patches, planting fruit trees as an act of goodwill in public spaces are virtuous deeds. We have taken advantage of crops at public avail in the English “alternative” town of Totnes before, when we could have afforded little more than urban foraging.
But again: do these efforts truly promote thriving or are they rather approaching a minimal welfare target from the underside?
Aren’t we just adding more color, texture and flavor of our “making” to the kaleidoscope of foods we now eat, eventually allowing ourselves to can a few jars of homemade specialty preserves, keepsakes for festive family reunions, while the homeless of town and select industrious, low-income folks can sample the taste of left-behind country life?
How far is this from unbound wholesome nourishment that perpetually provides excesses, not only for the off-season alimentation of our own and of other fellow humans we care about, but wildlife too? Truth be told, few grocery cart maneuverers concern themselves with the latter, which also happens to form the 95% (give or take) of the world’s mouths and general metabolic systems; the invisible or – at best – obscure 95%, viewing it from inside a city fabric, including the over-fragmented suburbia.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, folks: if one really digs sustainability, as the genuine stuff, not being easily misled by any phrasal constructs containing “more”, “-er”, “-ish” or “less” and coming from an angle of ernest concern for the future of her/his loved ones, then I’m here to support that person by stating that tweaking a greenish life in and around a city will not get anyone there, to sustainable living – ever. Guaranteed.
Town and sustainability are two mutually exclusive notions.
Unless we morph ourselves into ant colonies, or else, corrupt the concept of sustainability, as we have done with so many great initiatives before. Either way, with our human aspirations for durable life on Earth, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
In fact, cities and towns as such will inevitably need to dissolve into a verdant countryside, once again. Whether inside out or outside in, it will eventually need to happen, concomitantly with a radical awakening, an insofar hard to fathom, yet entirely possible rise in consciousness. That is a whole new topic, for another time, perhaps.
For right now, let’s just accept as indisputable, the need ample space in form of land, to comfortably provide nourishment for a radiant health and overall thriving. That’s because sustainability should not, cannot approach living from spatial minimalism. Such spatial frugality only results in imbalance, frustration and a whole suite of regretful social phenomena that precipitates from congestion and that we already know all too well.
Sustainable living assumes comfort with minimal friction, if any.
Nature’s balance is dynamic, yes, nevertheless an equilibrium and exuberance in health is integral part of that. By in large, and despite occasional anomalies, nature tends to promote conditions of abundance, the prerequisite for powerful and blissful survival. You cannot shortchange real health, or achieve robust immunity with inferior food and stressful living conditions.
For these reasons and so much more, like the one of sheer aesthetics, the innate joy of being immersed in a rich, sensuously stimulating natural environment, one has to yield to the inertia, abide the wise, intuitive call and get out of city “comfort zone” once and for all.
It is best to raise our ecological consciousness, sensitivity first, then get ready to pick up nature’s mentality, feel more than an affiliation with the non-human world – a oneness with it.
This shall be, so that when one is spiritually prepared to make the move, she or he is also ready to engage in a harmony. Not only as an onlooker, but an active participant.
Much, otherwise evitable damage, destruction to a fragile natural environment can be inflicted in one’s new, still foreign setting if the emotional-spiritual honing work wasn’t previously taken to a high enough level. It’s a matter of honest self-judgement. The precautionary principle and gentle approach to the host environment, are to be applied. Treat the novel wide horizon of exciting opportunities with due respect and great responsibility.
Remember: freedom comes with well-understood and well-worth limits. It is no different, only more true, with sustainable living.
The good news is that your safety net will be your heart itself, aligning you with the laws of the Universe almost unnoticeably, even while you are relaxing – well, especially then. This intuitive inner guidance of your, this renewed conscience alone will guarantee the unwavering advancement on the chosen life path of no-return.
Be brave, be happy!