This is part of a series of an alphabet of help for living well, despite everything: G is for Grow.
Do you want to live well? Then grow, despite everything.
Grow something to eat.
- I began by nurturing a pot of basil on my windowsill. Added a pot of rosemary and cilantro. Next, I planted scallions, radishes and leaf lettuce in small patio containers. And flowers for beauty. Then I asked Ken to build a trellis for cucumbers. Eventually we dug up some lawn to make a tiny vegetable garden and planted tomatoes and flowers. More digging to make room for squash and peppers, beets and spinach.
Participate in food production in some small way. Then grow more, whenever it’s reasonable to do so.
Grow kitchen skills: prepare your own food.
- Learn the art of cooking. Then teach someone. No capable body who eats is too privileged or important for the necessary work of food production and preparation. We need to know basic survival skills.
Eating has become a primary form of entertainment in our culture. The calorie-burning work of preparation and clean-up balances the consumption of food.
Grow community: discover where your food comes from.
- Local food is fresher and tastier. Plus, it’s sensible to support our neighbors.
When we know our food-growers we build a relationship, earning a say in what is grown and how.
Grow economic and political influence: buy directly from food producers (farms, orchards, bee-keepers or maple-syrup producers) whenever possible.
- The largest cost-share of processed and manufactured food is not the food, it’s the transport, the processing, the packaging and the advertising; the food producer of mass-consumption food does not make enough money to subsist. This leads to the necessity of government subsidies for food producers, and government policy-making about the kind and amount of food produced. Whether we like it or don’t, whether we’re ignorant or informed, food is political.
If we believe in grass-roots democracy, we should spend our food dollars locally whenever it’s feasible.
Grow knowledge: learn what is added to packaged, processed and restaurant food.
- Are those ingredients actually food? If not, then what are they, and why are they in our food?
Truth is empowering. For health’s sake, let’s know what we’re eating.
Grow consciousness: learn to recognize real food.
- The more deeply we know food, the more deeply we can appreciate its goodness.
- Food consciousness makes us sensitive to the unnatural and unwholesome, enabling us discern between what is authentically good and what is enticing, but harmful.
When we become conscious of our food, we won’t need to read labels to know whether what we’re eating is good for us–we can tell by the taste, smell, texture, and the healthy (or unwell) after-effects of eating.
Authentic growth doesn’t happen overnight. We learn and grow little by little, step by step, continuously throughout our lives. I’m still learning.