Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living Green, Living Local


Even though my family is Canadian, we're finding it hard not to get caught up in the current moment of American politics. We have been witness to some amazing history in the making. While watching the inauguration, I found myself, for the first time, actually considering how I might be interested in meeting a president of the United States and as I watched Barack Obama take the oath of office with an unprecedented number of people watching, my eyes weren't exactly as dry as the Sahara. However, it was his eighteen minute, non-stop speech that impressed me the most and there were a couple of particular items that had me searching for a written copy of his speech.

But first, come back with me to last summer. We are anxiously trying to sell our current house in a market that is showing beginning signs of weakness. We are desperate to begin making plans for a rural life and our country home, but too afraid to itemize details any further than in our thoughts, for fear that if said out loud, they won't come true. Then came along a book that squashed that idea and had us, well...less my husband and more myself, completely trapped in a country life romanticized to the hilt. I stumbled across a book, an audio book actually, that had me looking forward to my daily two hours of commuting with more excitement than I ever thought possible. This book not only opened me up to the life of a family living in the country and growing as much of their own food as possible but "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" opened my eyes to a whole other slew of issues from animal husbandry, (whoever knew turkeys were so stupid? no offense!) the impact of not buying local on our environment, (why do we need to eat fruit that has traveled thousands of miles to reach our supermarket?) and the politics involving such things as seed production, which is copyrighted by a handful of American conglomerates (we no longer 'own' our own food and that's down right scary), and so called American tied aid which puts most of the money back into America's pockets rather than aiding those in need (like tsunami victims), and those are just a few of the things I learned. If I've piqued your interest or curiosity, I suggest you pick up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's book...if you can handle the truth!

Jump back to today, and the item that displays the most impact on my way of thinking or rather 'shopping', is food mileage. No longer am I solely concerned with what I eat but I also want to know how many miles my food has racked up before it reached my local grocery store. A few months ago, while apples in this area where in prime season, my local, 'large-chain' grocery store had at least 8 different varieties...and none of them were from North America, let alone from one of the numerous orchards within a 100km radius. These days, having jumped on the 'localvore' bandwagon, I not only ask myself how much an item costs but how much it costs the earth.

For that reason, it really struck a chord with me when I heard President Obama say, "each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet." I truly believe that there will soon be a time when our current energy practices will no longer be an option. Fuel costs, while low at the moment, will not remain that way, and the price of food will certainly reflect this, as we've already seen. No longer will we be able to rack up super saver miles on food transported around the globe. I'm not so sure that someday, children won't once again be thrilled to receive an orange in their Christmas stocking, as I'm sure they were long ago in this old house.

Obama also said, "We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories." We don't have much of a choice do we? It's only a matter of time before we go through another paradigm shift, if we haven't begun already. The industrial age is leaving us whether we like to admit it or not and while solar and wind power seems to be cost prohibitive for most of us, I do hope that will change soon. The unreliability alone of hydro wires in a winter storm is enough to turn me off. 12 hours with no sump pump while 30cm of snow was slowly melting and seeping into the ground was enough for me to tell my husband "we need to get off the grid" I don't know when that day will come for us, but it's certainly a goal we're working towards.

President Obama challenged not only his fellow citizens but I believe the world, to progress, to move forward, to learn from our mistakes and most importantly be bold enough to step out on that ice flow and see where it takes us...it could lead to Eden..we just need to take the first step.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoying your blog, Andrea. Will be looking up the book you mention. We can all contribute in so many ways to leave less of a footprint - from as small as turning off lights to as large as going solar: each step counts and buying local is another step in the right direction. I envy your life in the country! - K. E. Berger