There is an intangible, but equally empowering peace that comes with the practice of growing our own food. Have you taken the time to understand where this peace comes from? In understanding the roots of this peace we can find ways to expand on it and move the practice over into other parts of our lives.
First we will look at the alternative to that peace, the fear, to further our understanding. As rational beings we are we can worry a lot about things that are out of our control. We can worry about the weather, about market instability, and about social unrest. It seems the bigger and more interconnected and inter-relational our world becomes the more paths of worry there are to follow. By now we must be at the hub of in an infinite amount of possible frightening scenarios that warn us to stay alert and stay safe. So many of these worries are tied up around our food system because food is intimately linked with our survival and health. What about salmonella in our cantaloupe? How about a drought that causes a shortage of grain? What if I run out of water because farmers have used it to grow lettuce in the desert? What would I cook without access to tomatoes in December? How many nutrients has this avocado lost during its time on the shelf? What are these ingredients in my lunch?
Soon these worries turn into fears because even though we rationally understand how food makes it to the grocery store we aren’t actually out having the experience of watching the food grow, be harvested, be packaged and produced. We have to make up some sort of story from what we see in videos. When we make up stories we are trying to trick ourselves. We are trying to fool ourselves into believing that we are in control, but always in the back of our minds we know we made up the story and that we aren’t in control. We really have no idea. Even if we aren’t conscious of this illusion we still have to generate a story or avoid the truth of our vulnerability. All of this takes energy and erodes our sense of peace. Think of how much effort corrupt governments can expend disseminating propaganda and covering up the truth. That is a metaphor for what is happening in our own minds when we decide to skirt around the truth of our situation. As long as we are manipulating our perspective by omission or avoidance we are exhausting our reserves.
We also have the option of becoming acutely conscious of our worry by joining the movement of folks that go the other route and decide to be conscious about the complexity of our food and financial systems. We can talk about and evaluate the interwoven nature of our society, the potential and real instability over which we have no control, and the degree of risk we take by depending on these systems. Here, we are facing the facts and seeing that participation in everyday society carries an inherent real danger. From here we could choose to become paralyzed by fear, we could decide to give up and claim hopelessness, or we could decide to leave and/or at least prepare for what we foresee as an inevitable societal collapse. Clearly to be in a constant state of fear or hopelessness degrades our quality of life. Prepping for societal collapse by stockpiling food and storing gas masks too takes a lot of energy and easily erodes our sense of peace. There is the upside of prepping in that the sense of self-reliance can help one sleep better at night. Many choose this path for this reason. Others steer clear because the nearly constant state of alert is too much for their systems.
Either way, we’re not here to debate the up- and down-sides of prepping, but rather to see how we can find and stay centered in a peaceful state through gardening. Self-reliance is an important component of this entire conversation. When growing our own food we eliminate some of the big worries and fears that can haunt us. We KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt what went into and came out of the production of the food. More than this even, we have the safety net of knowing that we can rely on our own two hands and a patch of dirt to provide sustenance for our families. When we are back in touch with the land in this way we feel grounded and safe. There is also a sort of pioneer spirit in this way of living that is in all of our genetics. Once upon a time all of our ancestors knew how to farm and how to forge their own way in the world. We feel as if we’re connecting back to our roots and reclaiming our birthright as active participants in our food system. This can be truly empowering and transformative for many people. All we have to do is look at the expanding “grow your own food” movement. There is a spectrum of course, between those who never eat an unprocessed bite in their lives and those who ban packaged food all together. It’s up to you to decide where along this spectrum is your optimal place for peace.
Where do you find a practice centered around your food that promotes consciousness, vibrancy, and peace? How can you bring this practice to other parts of your life?
Some who start with planting their own garden soon buy a flock of chickens or start raising their own llamas for wool. The self-reliant pioneer has woken up and starts a farm. Others have more confidence in their classroom or workplace and can perform better and make friends easier. Others become fantastic chefs and make time to sit and connect with their families at dinner. And some make space for the same quietude they find in their garden in other facets of their life.
Author: Stacey L.L. Couch, Creative Media Coordinator