As some human societies develop over time our lot is made easier in terms of our daily resources by advances in technology and science, we have food security because of it and an abundance of resources to make our lives easier, but on closer in inspection this advancement is more to do with lining the pockets of individuals and corporations others than meeting our basic human needs in a sane and ecologically sound manner. Although we see shop shelves brimming with goods and warehouses full of consumer goods this in no way symbolizes resilience and access to these resources for all, we are using up and burning through that which we should be conserving for future generations of all planetary inhabitants for the sake of a few people profiting from it.
Over time we have let go of more and more of our stock of knowledge and skills relating to home economics and how we perceive and work with our the daily resources that we use to keep us alive and to provide some semblance of health and well being and instead have become passive consumers.
In the not too distant past most daily meals were cooked from fresh ingredients until the food industries and their marketing teams arrived and tricked us into the idea that we don’t have time to cook proper meals, instead we were offered convenience food as an alternative and antidote to our overly busy lives.
This convenience food came in the form of dried foods packed full of E numbers and preservatives, ready meals/TV dinners, and more recently in the form of takeaways that are ordered via your mobile phone or laptop. And whilst our food has been been appropriated and messed with we have begun to lose skills that have been passed from generation to generation, family to family.
As a species one of our primary activities is making things, whether in the workplace or at home, this doesn’t seem to be happening much nowadays, sure enough people will make things in their work, if they are lucky enough to still be employed in a trade where people makes things for a living, outside of work however this is a different thing entirely, as one lad I had a conversation with said to me a few years back ‘If you have been working hard all week why make something when you can buy it and if you cant afford it you can get it on credit’.
In our work what people are missing really shows through when we have taught community members how to cook basic dishes, they have been astounded by the taste and cost and have marveled at the fact that these certain dishes were made with only a few very basic ingredients.
My concern in relation to our loss of knowledge about food and the skills incorporated in growing and preparing food is that we are faced with multiple systemic collapses, both of our agricultural systems and the economics that drives it. Whilst part of me wants to crack open a bottle of home made wine to celebrate the demise of an agricultural model that is destroying ecosystems, and an economic model that both enslaves many locked into it and contributes greatly towards the destruction of the planet, I am deeply worried that because of our collective loss of skills that we are ill equipped to adapt to the changes that lie before us.
Not wanting to sound like a doomsday merchant, if there was a significant climate change weather event that had a detrimental effect on our food production systems, or another credit crunch, many would have no idea where to begin the task of creating some sort of resilience where resources are concerned. And incidentally, the chances of both happening are very high as climate change advances virtually unchecked and the banking sector continues with little in the way of regulation or system change.
During the last few weeks I have had a number of conversations with different folk relating to this, some from a scientific background, some with social and community work backgrounds, and some from academic backgrounds, and the culmination of these conversations are all the same, how should we deal with this situation at ground level?
The solutions to these multiple systemic failures lie in our ability to do things collectively, whether this is growing food, cooking, making things, preparing and preserving foodstuffs. But in an age where we are told society doesn’t exist only individuals and families this task is made all the more harder because people have bought into the bullshit that with everlasting growth there is ever lasting resources, and the insane idea that if we leave everything to the market and its providers that somehow everything will be alright.
From our end of things as a small local community group we plan to run sessions that show people how to build a level of resilience in the face of these multi-systemic failures, over the next few weeks we will be busy putting together a program of resilience that will include guest workshop deliveries from some of our friends who are specialists in specific fields of work, and some which we will deliver ourselves, watch this space!