It’s important to have time to reflect on life. This unexpectedly occurred for me, this evening- whilst reading Waitrose Weekend- 4th September 2014 edition. There were numerous articles within the paper which rang bells for me. Most notably, a series on Organic farming.
Did you know that the Soil Association was formed way back in 1946? I had no idea it was that early, just as the tide was turning in favour of more intensive farming methods. It was founded by a group of doctors, scientist and farmers who were concerned about these changes. That point also struck me because I had just assumed it was farmers who had formed the group. The fact that doctors and scientists were also concerned adds weight to the argument in favour of organic methods, for me. Not that I’m belittling farmers in anyway, they are all their own disciplines with their own merits. What struck me is that all those different professions recognised the same truth. Even in 1946, when presumably they had less knowledge of the implications- they foresaw a negative impact. Still others, like chefs are proponents of buying the best quality ingredients you can for reasons of taste. And yet others will tell you to buy local, not only to support your local economy but also to reduce food miles and therefore, your carbon footprint.
Reading the articles made me remember back to when I studied Food and Nutrition, over 16 years ago. I was struck by the information I learned from books and my teachers around organic vs. non-organic farming methods. On top of that, over recent years- having watched programmes by the like of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall- I thought I would always go for the organic and free-range options. At my core, I still want that- I just got caught up in trying to save money, the realities of a budget and rising food costs.
However, pursuit of money is an empty thing in itself. Surely it should be guided by ethics and principles? I read too many other blogs, where that’s all their about- making/ saving money by whatever means possible- regardless of the provenance of the food they are eating or the working conditions of the person who made their knife which was sold to them for 99 pence.
Still, there are other minimalists who are using the cash and time they have freed up to pursue better and more noble ambitions. Like the things we have just been pondering; buying organic, locally produced food. So upon reflection, it’s time for me to start moving towards making those changes too. Maybe it means eating less crisps, chocolate and fizzy pop in order to afford great quality, locally produced, organic food? Maybe it means you stop having ready-meals? Maybe it just means you are going to allocate a greater portion of your budget to food and forgo some leisure activities or unnecessary luxuries?
These are just my short-term thoughts. Longer term, I hope that our minimalist lifestyle enables us to support children in developing countries to have the basic necessities for life- like food, water and an education. I hope that it means we can lend or give to friends and family to help them in times of need. Overall, I hope that these small decisions we make in the here and now, will have globally positive implications. Enabling producers to earn a fair wage, enabling the planet’s resources to be saved and only used where necessary, helping people to stay out of debt and enabling people to spend time on the things they need or want to spend time on. Fundamentally I still believe that minimalism has the power to change the world.