Since moving back to a more inhabited area I find myself enjoying the benefits of living close to so many resources. No longer am I spending entire days running all of my errands so that I can save gas and time. The convenience of town life definitely has its benefits: the farmers market, bakeries, butchers, artisans, shops and stores, and restaurants. I’m reminded of why it’s so easy to sink into more of a consumer mindset. Especially after spending the day at the beach.
For me, the last two weeks has felt a bit like being on vacation. I’ve actually found myself wondering if it’s necessary to start baking my own breads and plan a garden for next year when I have local resources nearby. It’s hard work to grow your own fruits and vegetables with minimum impact on the environment. Baking bread for the week is a lot more time consuming than walking across the street to the bakery and buying a fresh loaf for $4.00. Raising animals seems expensive to start up over the immediate benefit of purchasing local pastured meat and eggs from a butcher or farmer – and the hard work is done for you.
So why should I can and freeze fruits and veggies for later in the year? Why should I spend my spare time sweating and working hard to get a garden started by the last frost date? Why should I invest in fencing, wake up early, and make vacationing difficult in the name of farm-fresh eggs and the like?
Sure the hard work is done for you and you should support your local businesses, but doing some of it yourself – all that growing and raising and working hard – it’s what our societies did long before there were supermarkets, Amazon, and the Green PolkaDot Box. We used to be healthy for all that hard work without use of a treadmill and we didn’t have to worry about high fructose corn syrup or gluten intolerance.
Growing and making some of our own food is 1/3 pride, 1/3 concern for health, 1/3 concern for the environment, with a pinch of fun thrown in there. I’m proud that I am continuing to learn skills that my grandparents needed to survive. I love that I am building a self-sustaining lifestyle with only minor investments. Our health has only increased since growing and preserving our own, with doctors’ papers to show it. However, with all the dining out over the past month my wasteline has admittedly grown. My activity level has decreased since I’m not working my gardens and I spend less time outdoors.
Finally: my concern for the environment. I believe it’s up to each of us to be environmentally responsible. We need to use our brains when we purchase anything. We need to consider what’s better for us – shipping certified organic garlic from Argentina or purchasing non-certified organics from a local gardener whose hand we can shake and discuss the importance of chemical-free farming with. Growing and saving some of my own heirloom vegetables helps keep cost down because I only have to buy seeds once. And past the initial investment of purchasing jars, canning your own goods can save money in the long run. Then there’s the benefit for my immediate environment by planting a variety of produce and flowers and avoiding harmful chemicals. I’m actually improving the ground itself and I see the payoff with an increased amount of wildlife and higher production rates in the food that I’m growing.
Personally I want my money going into the hands of the growers and producers and artisans. Not advertisers and middlemen. And not into gas for shipping. While baking my breads and growing a few crops is time consuming and sometimes hard work, I feel I’m doing better for my everything in my immediate area by growing and making my own. For those things I cannot make and do, I either purchase as close to home as possible or do without. So while I’ve been guilty of complacency the past few weeks, I realize that I am not perfect. I also understand the importance of purchasing locally and using the skills that were taught to me. Yes, I will continue to grow my own, even if it’s in a 5-gallon bucket. Yes, I will continue to can and freeze home grown and locally grown produce to enjoy in the off-season so that I can avoid expensive imports. And yes, I will continue to support the local artisans, farmers, and restaurants to keep money in my pocket and help to limit pollution and reliance on petroleum.
What about you? What do you do to fight complacency and why do you keep going?