If we don’t change the direction we are going, we might just end up where we are headed.
In last three days of 2005 a staggering mix of personal tragedies and miracles provided inspiration for reflection and hope. Between our next-door neighbor’s house exploding in a fireball, my husband’s narrow escape from injury and the survival of a friend after a backcountry skiing accident, the blessing of being alive and thriving comes info sharp focus. When NPR reviews the year of tsunamis, hurricanes and war I somehow still feel disconnected from human suffering. But when terror arrives in my backyard it refuels my determination to do my part to make our world a better place.
I believe everyone wants to contribute the global good- but because the problems at hand seem either too distant or too colossal we are paralyzed from acting by a feeling of futility and ineffectiveness. The mission of the Ecogastronomy Initiative is to convince you otherwise.
Food, our most primal need, provides a common bond that connects us to the earth and each other. Obviously our food choices affect our health, but concious eating is also the most effective means for individuals to make an impact on the health of the planet. The way we eat also has a powerful impact on the welfare of our family, local community and global society. Three to six times a day we can make a difference, yet many of us are so overwhelmed by an idealistic model that we either don’t do anything at all or make sporadic attempts without a good understanding of how to be most effective.
In our globalized, industrialized, homogenized and commercialized world, food has become frighteningly impersonal and out of our control. A goal of the Ecogastronomy Initiative is to help people understand the interconnection between what we eat and our physical health, the environment and the socio-political problems facing the global community.
We as a society have created a world we abhor as individuals- an obesity epidemic, global warming, unethical advertising, spoiled land and water, loss of cultural identity, and perverse economic inequality are just a few of the issues that can be directly related how we produce, buy and consume our food. The bad news is that society is not going to fix the problem. It can only be addressed by each of us taking individual responsibility for the world we want to live in.
The good news is that making a difference is not as difficult as we think. No, it won’t be EASY, nothing worth doing ever is. You must be ready to question your government, the market, your values, your lifestyle and make a stand for what you believe in. If each of us made small changes, even if it’s just THINKING about what we are putting on our table, what Alice Waters termed *A Delicious Revolution* will be swift and powerful. It already is. McDonalds recently started serving hormone-free beef and fair trade coffee- what could be more hopeful than that?
My dream is that consumer power generated from informed, caring individuals will cause every food producer in the world to change the way they do business.The result will be more people reconnected with nature, the seasons, their family and their local community. What’s left of ethnic traditions, artisan foods and cultural identity will be preserved and celebrated. Questionable artificial ingredients, growth stimulants, antibiotics and synthetic chemical residues will cease to flow through the bodies of our children. People all over the world can feed themselves nutritious sustainable foods and receive a fair price for their labors.
My vow to you, reader, is not to preach and not to offer an impossible model that leaves you feeling guilty and paralyzed. All I ask is that you consider your options and make small changes when you can. You’ll be surprised how quickly sustainable, nutritious, satisfying foods prepared with love will change your life and your motivation to do your share to save the planet will thrive. The well-being and vitality of each individual is the best indication of the health of our society, our culture, the global community and the environment. Right now we aren’t doing too well. We must each individually be the change we want the world to see.
By Sue Muncaster