Food security and food awareness have always been one of my main interests that I've shared on this blog, which seem like big concepts, and they are... sometimes I have trouble understanding (or accepting) the articles I read, and the shows I watch. It can freak you out, the complexities of global trade and the fragility of the supply chain, the inequity in distribution, the reliance on fossil fuels, the politics and power behind what we eat. Sometimes I just keep it simply to one concept, 'how best can I feed my family' in times of food shortages, increased food prices, unemployment, post peak oil transition... or any environmental concern that might affect food production or distribution, like climate change. I've always been interested in food, cooking and nutrition, so in line with 'how best can I feed my family', local food has become my passion... a passion I have not necessarily been able to pursue as I'd like, due to lack of time & energy, having young kids, working part time etc. But in between building our urban homestead, in supporting local producers, in learning more and being aware, in connecting with our food and educating our kids, we are doing what we can. Amongst the other benefits we gain, the advantage of our chosen lifestyle is that it is our own form of protest. We are trying to change the system, to make a difference, by occupying our own backyard.
Right now, around the world, people are coming together to say that things are not right... perhaps this is start of the Great Awakening that Paul Gilding refers to in his book? The Occupy Wall Street is one, and of course I read the articles related to food movement, like this, as well as other bloggers, like CJ's Occupy Your Food Supply. She says, "Imagine if everyone who supports the Occupy concept but can’t get to a protest, instead boycotted all corporations for a month. As in, really didn’t buy anything beyond absolute survival necessities. If enough people did it, even just a week could make an enormous statement!" Makes me think, yeah, awesome, we could do that, Oh, but hang on, maybe there are things we 'need' that wouldn't necessarily be considered survival necessities? Do I have the time & energy to handle a challenge like that? It's a dream of mine to not rely on supermarkets for anything, but in reality, we are not even producing enough of own fruit and vegetables to live off, let alone everything else. Could we find local suppliers of everything we need, like the couple from Dog Island Farm did, who went for a year without groceries? I think it is admirable that people go to protests or take on big challenges to protest from home, but it is realistic for everyone?
How can everyday people make a difference without overwhelming or overburdening themselves? Can you live your 'regular life', starting growing some of your own produce, research and support local producers and businesses, and campaign against governments or lobby for changes, all at the same time? That's exactly what we are trying to do! I believe it is worth doing. For instance, Molly's blog post about selling off our food and water rights scares me. We need to protect our country's assets, when the government isn't. We need to protect our future, and the future is what we do now. Joining organisations, like GetUp! and ACF in Australia, means they update you with issues and make it easy to email your local political representatives or sign online petitions. OK, so perhaps they aren't the best forms of voicing your opinion to the powers that be, but when you have little time or energy because you spend you days living the change, then isn't 'clicktivism' better than doing nothing? You can spend time writing, emailing or calling your government or councils, writing letters to the editor, you can take to the streets, you can join organisations and community groups working to make a difference, and that suits a lot of people, hey, not everyone has a 'backyard' to occupy. But tell me, if I am out there doing that, who is tending my garden, feeding my chickens, cooking my meals from scratch and crocheting my dishcloths?
What else can you do in your own backyard that will make a difference? This blog page has plenty of ideas, but I don't have any stat's or guarantees that any of what I am doing will help. Lucky I am not just doing it for that reason alone! I like this article on Homegrown and some more practical tips here The Homesteader’s Guide to Unemployment: 11 Steps to Take Control, which are great ways to save money, gain some independence, and have fun too! This is what we are doing, our hobbies or fun, our family time, our 'spare time' and our 'spare money' is spent creating an urban homestead, producing food and DIYing what we can. It's not perfect, it's never going to be self-sufficiency, but it is something tangible we can do. We sacrifice things that many others take for granted, like new car or two cars, like holidays or trips away, like appliances or gadgets, like wardrobes of fashionable clothes. I am lucky to be able to only work part-time, because it allows me to take on more of this homesteading stuff, but at the same time, we choose to live on less money and make do/ do without. Not everyone is as lucky as we are, but not everyone works as hard as we do to make it work, either.
So, I say, instead of occupying your loungeroom, get outside and occupy your backyard! Occupy your local farmers market, and find out about your local producers and businesses. Occupy organisations that allow you to voice your opinion, and support those making a difference in your area. If hanging out at a protest is what suits you, go for it, but if not, don't feel that you are not doing anything or can't make a difference... occupy your own awareness and you are taking several steps forward in the march for change!