Food is one of the basics. Without food, shelter and safety the rest becomes moot. But we seem to have lost the point a bit around what food, when and with who, and according to Monash Uni we sure as hell have lost track of how much, with Australia becoming one of the fattest nations in the developed world*.
But I think we’ve also missed the point of food as celebration and social bonding. Now before we start sounding like we have all the answers or immaculate eating practices let me just go on record of saying that I’m neither a great cook nor gardener, I love a good roast and have failed a number of times at eating a vegetarian diet (mostly due to bacon!).
So with all those (and many more limitations) our aim is to try and enjoy the food we eat, eat better and use food as a means to bring people together. So eating lightly will include:
- Eat what you grow. There is something amazing about growing your own food. It tastes different, you connect to the very fundamental processes of seasons and cycles and you develop important skills that are at risk of being lost. More importantly you realise what food should be like, if you’ve ever grown your own carrots then you will be (sometimes depressingly) aware of how there is something seriously not right about the ones you buy at the supermarket. So we will get serious about what we grow, what we eat and how we develop systems in line with permaculture principles to produce sustainable organic food in our backyard.
- Eat local. We will try to get to the point where all of what we eat is produced within a 100mile radius or where we live. I say try because I know for a fact that there is no coffee grown within that radius and one of my wedding vows was to ensure the availability of coffee for my non-morning person wife.
- Eat sustainably. This will involve us eating with the seasons and making the best use of what we buy. As a friend of ours has often reminded us becoming vegetarian is one of the biggest lifestyle changes you can make to decrease your environmental impact. I don’t know enough about nutrition yet to take a family with 2 small children there at this point but we will decrease the amount of meat we eat substantially and try and diversity and localise what we buy, cook and eat.
- Eat as a team. The act of preparing a meal should be part of the fun. So when possible we will cook, and eat as a family and with others when possible. This is destined to be a messy approach with two small children but as the picture demonstrates they love helping.
- Eat as a celebration. Part of the aim of this year is to show that simplicity and minimizing impact is more rewarding than it is often portrayed. Food is the perfect way to prove this point. Whether it’s friday night dinner with family and friends, pizza in the park with the mothers group or a street barbecue we will be going out of our way to use food as a celebration.
- Share: This is perhaps one of the biggest parts of eating lightly. Rather than continue the idea that we all need to be experts or self contained units we will try to encourage the sharing of skills, produce, ideas and energy. Working bees, bottling days or even just half a dozen eggs when the chickens are going lay crazy all build resilience and community.
Recent new reports about the amount of food the average Australian throws away is another saddening fact. Some lovely old ladies at a market in London highlighted the lost skill of being creative with leftovers. I’m sure you’ll recall from your travels Paul viewing produce in markets in non ‘first’ world countries… Bruised, blackened, deformed and tasty. We see little of this unless it comes from our own gardens these days. The news article hilighted how much of this gets discarded.