Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Feeding Cities – How and Why should I care?

When I was inspired by this topic, I remembered one of those “pearls of wisdom” quotes:
                                  “There’s no use hurrying,
                      if you’re headed in the wrong direction.”

New York City MontageIt seemed appropriate. When I think of that quote, I immediately get the visual of the hustle and bustle of city traffic, the ebb and flow of hoards of city workers attending their jobs and the seeming insanity of it all.

There’s a book out by Carolyn Steel, called “Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives”. I haven’t read the book but I have watched a talk given by Carolyn summarizing it (See TED Talk below).  It seemed a stimulating and thought provoking topic to add my own thoughts to.

So, I ask you to consider for a moment the above quote in the context of how you view the foods you eat and where those foods come from. Consider also, the busy-ness of your personal life and the end result of these choices regarding personal health, relationships, satisfaction, quality of life etc.

My question is, are you happy with it? Do YOU think you might possibly be headed in the “wrong direction?” If you feel that you are, you’re certainly not alone. Must you keep going down the same road, though?

Food is a fundamental ingredient for life. It’s not just physical food for our bodies, either. I define “food” as “anything that nourishes” any aspect of one’s being. It could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual food.

It’s ALL important. Neglect any of these and your being suffers. The quality, appropriateness and availability of what we call “food”, influences directly the quality of life in any organism.

Keep in mind, that when you blast through life without giving this vital point consideration, you are likely “headed for disaster”.  Put another way, the result usually spells P-A-I-N of one sort or another. 

“What am I suggesting, then, to help remedy this?”

Just like an artist at his easel, from time to time, it just makes sense to step back a little from the “canvas” of your life to gain a fresh perspective. Let the mind take a break for a bit, RELAX and pay more attention to how you feel about things. 

If you’re happy, continue on as you are. If not, then it’s time for some changes.

Check out this 15 minute talk given by Carolyn Steel at the TEDGlobal Conference at Oxford (See embedded video below). I found it helpful to take a step back and look at how food production influenced the growth of cities through the ages and how things have changed to where they are today.

Understanding this made it easier to see my role in the whole scheme of things. Maybe it’ll help you too. After all, my choices, as an individual “cell” within the city or any society, contributes or detracts from the collective choices of the whole. For each of us, it comes down to the fundamental question of what do I want to support.

As is clearly shown in this video, the trend towards more cities has taken us so far away from nature that most people in cities have totally lost touch with where food comes from and what sustains them.

Carolyn suggests an alternative viewpoint to Thomas Moore’s “Utopia” to that of a “Sitopia” (meaning “food-place”). Basically a move back to more “real” food-centered living …… one where the family takes the time to enjoy real food together, a place of markets, a place where fresh, locally grown foods are available; a place of sustainability.

It’s great to see an architect and author promoting and holding a vision such as this. The world needs more like her. As she states in her presentation “If the city will look after the country, then the country will look after the city” Check out her blog and book CLICK HERE.

Support for Healthy (Global) Living begins with each of us remembering the importance of our connection with nature and applying it consistently in our day-to-day choices.

In Support of Sustainable, Wholesome Living.
Cheers, Sven  

Added Dec 4th – Check out a few more opinions on the subject; CLICK HERE to visit an article on the book “Hungry City”, contributed by the blog’s editor for Guardian.co.uk. Interesting comments by the blog readers there.

CLICK HERE for an additional book review done by a writer for The Independent in the UK.

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