I had a thought in the garden the other day. I was musing about growing edible plants and why I was bothering. What is driving me to do it? Almost instantly I had a somewhat satisfactory answer leap across my mind.
I AM RESPONSIBLE.
I am responsible for my food on so many levels. Where I get it, how it comes to me, what it is, how I consume it and the ways in which it is nurtured and produced – to suggest a few. Firstly, let me make the context clear. I don’t mean ‘responsible’ as in “I am better than someone else because I am doing what I think is right, and to hell with the rest of you….” kind of responsible – which is what I think a lot of people tag responsibility as these days. I mean taking accountability for your own food. The food YOU use to nourish and support YOUR body.
For probably 95% of my consuming life thus far, if not more, I have largely given the responsibility of raising and producing my food to someone else – and most of that is indirectly. The farmers, the slaughterhouses, the flour mills, the market gardeners, the chicken and egg farmers, the meat industry, the potato board, the cardboard and plastic manufacturers, the miners and fuel producers, the transport companies, the distribution networkers, the supermarket chains, the independent couriers, the water authority, the deep sea fishermen, the south-east asia fish farmers, the Californian citrus growers, the Turkish date growers, Japanese seaweed suppliers ….
With my money, I have paid others to take on supplying my mouth with the food that passes through it. Some of this has been worth the money paid. It has enabled me to do many things and to have access to many other food sources that I would probably otherwise have very limited access to.
Recently though, I have become somewhat despondent. Not just about the strength of my money (which is another topic altogether), but about the quality of the produce it can purchase and the spin-offs it can have.
A case in point. For those that are not already aware I will save myself the typing and post an excerpt from a well known Australian brand. This is the website for Angas Park
And this is the excerpt from their website that I would like to bring your attention to. It refers to the Manassen Foods Group which is an umbrella company for the following brands.
MANASSEN FOODS GROUP NO LONGER AUSTRALIAN OWNED
Margaret River Dairy Company
On 30th November 2011 Manassen Foods Group was acquired by Bright Foods Group Holdings Pty Ltd, which is 75% owned by Bright Foods of China, one of China’s largest food companies. Given the recency of the transaction, some Manassen Foods Group products and brands still carry an “Australian Owned” label.
Manassen is now working hard to remove and update all labeling, packaging and other material including signage that may still carry the Australian Owned claim.
The company has made every effort to limit exposure to such references before the transaction was concluded and confirms there has been no change to such things as the procurement, processing and packing or otherwise of these products.
Make of this what you wish. For me it means another loss to Australia. I am not privy to the pressures of business on a local scale or with what I suspect are the monetary enticements from global industry that is forever looking at what acquisitions it can make – but for my mind, for what it is worth it means someone has made the decision to sell out. On themselves and their country – and their industry. I hope I am wrong. I may never know.
This is not a one off case. There are others happening as we speak which have also left me with the same thoughts that someone has taken the convenient approach to ‘bow out’ rather than to see themselves as an important part of the big picture for industry in this country.
So, my approach is changing, because I am tired of this money driven madness and cost cutting business system. I am taking my accountability for my food and transferring it from money-based to personal-based. By this I mean, I am making it personal and I am growing as much of my own food as possible.
Two years ago this occurred to me as quite radical and somewhat not totally achievable. I no longer think it is radical. I don’t even think radical is the term to even use here. To me it is necessary. Realistically, I don’t know to what extent this is even possible with my garden, but then, that was before I looked at it a different way.
It’s not the growing of anything that is difficult. It isn’t even hard for others to be inspired to grow food in their own gardens. All of this is ENTIRELY achievable because that is what our great grandparents and great, great grandparents and further did. They grew their own food.
What I think needs to change is the FOOD we CHOOSE to put into our MOUTHS.
I have seen close family members end their lives short because of what they chose to put in their mouths. It is hard to see this and I’ve had my own battles between KNOWING and DOING. Sometimes there seems to be a vast void that exists between those two verbs.
So I am really starting to notice the food I choose. I want to make it as simple as possible. I want to have my food choices make a positive impact to whatever extent they may – but in a positive way nonetheless. I want to know that I don’t have to worry about deciphering ingredients and keeping up with the latest food processing methods to make sure I’m not jeopardising my health or that of my families. I’m tired of watching people eating to exist and of having to make do with feeling crap the majority of the time because of what they pick up and put in. I am not expecting this to change, but I figure that I can make things pretty much as simple and healthy and easy as possible and that is by making sure I have a garden of fresh greens, leafy salad plants and a mix of fruit and vegetables. I have to make it easy, otherwise it just doesn’t happen for any length of time.
So my accountability for my food is shifting from having someone else do it for me, to me doing it myself. To the very best of my ability and to the upmost extent that I can. Something that I am aware is not, I may say, without challenges, but highly rewarding in so many ways that are not all that instantly recognisable. Although I do have thoughts about the potential of one particular part of this kind of responsibility and I fully accept the consequences of my actions, because it will occur either with my input or without…
I want to have the biggest impact I think making a decision like this can have. To define the future food choices of my young son.