Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Food For Thought

I'm reading a book by Barbara Kingsolver at the moment called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It begins with an honest look at the divorce in the United States between humans and nature (especially their food), and the resulting social, economic and environmental catastrophe that we humans are hurtling towards.

 A tinker reed frog I found the day after planting this Aloe

Here in South Africa, we have the fortunate ability to be able to see into the future. We are like the furthest island from an earthquakes epicentre - we are able to receive the early warning, long before the tsunami hits. We could be likened to the late adopters in trend forecasting - there is often a lag of as little as a few months to as many as a few years in our adopting of certain fashions or trends.

So you'd think we would see the consequences of another nation's life in the fast-food lane, and make the changes necessary to steer clear of the mess to follow? The sad reality is that we are so distracted by the present problems that we have little capacity or will to take advantage of this advantage and plan for the future. The result is that the warning signals go un-heeded.

There has long been an inevitable shift in allegiance from rural farm life and a dependance and understanding of nature to urban living with its attendant ills. But urbanisation, doesn't have to spell out the death of communion with nature.
 It does require a certain amount of commitment on our part though. We need to take steps every day to notice nature, and welcome, and encourage it:

In South Africa, we have a term - Local is Lekker - which means buying locally made/grown/produced, is always better. Choose food that is locally grown as opposed to buying food which needs exponential amounts of energy just to get it to your door.

Encourage nature back into your garden by planting indigenous, or better yet, endemic plants. This gives animals a natural place to eat or rest - you'd be amazed at how quickly you will see all kinds of birds and wildlife returning to your garden.

Resist the urge to throw chemicals at your problems. Pesticides and herbicides are no solution - they just delay the inevitable. In extreme cases you may have no alternative, but most times all thats needed is a little patience. Nature's own balances, will kick in soon enough.

We need to take advantage of our prophetic viewpoint in SA, and begin learning from the mistakes made by other countries.

I do believe that every little action makes a difference - if we wait for governments or politicians to pass laws or push policies to protect and improve the environment, we'll be waiting till there are no longer cows to come home. We need to resolve to take a step now, no matter how small.
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