Friday, January 7, 2011

Creatures of Habit

The grocery store in the town near where we live has been boarded up since before Christmas. There are a couple of other places that offer a limited selection of groceries but for anything out of the ordinary, people have to drive at least 30 minutes in any direction. For folks who do not drive this is a terribly inconvenient situation. The store is on strike with no hope in the near future of resolving discussions. There is talk that it will be a year before we see a new grocery store opening in town.

There is no question that having a fully stocked (well, mostly stocked) grocery store is something we all pretty much take for granted. Even I, who meddles with making ketchup, have stumbled more than once recently on the fact that I just can’t get what I need when I need it. What I imagined to be some degree of self-sufficiency has become even more obviously not the case.

I am very curious to see how others are coping. When it was starting to look like convenience foods buy us time, it now takes half a day just to drive to get these handy items.

I’m not advocating that you buy yourself a cow and some hens to avoid all future dependence on your neighbourhood grocery store. That’ll chew up more time and money than it’s worth if your reason is to gain access to the food alone.

But I am suddenly even more aware of how important the habit of foraging for food is in our day. Those who depended on that store are all learning new habits out of necessity. It is a grumpy process. It involves a lot of unwanted change in schedules, patterns and willingness to go without, find alternatives or stock up.

At the end of the day this foodie is thrilled to note, however, that it is possible to change our food buying habits. Recognizing that it may take an external driver to make it so, I still realize that even the most embedded of habits can change.

Backing up and reiterating what I seem to be striving for with food production on our farm is that I simply want real food back. That is all I want. I want it available and accessible and affordable to all. I want it to be our habit to seek it out. If we could learn to value where our food comes from, perhaps we could board up the processed food section by our own volition. We could take the power back into our own hands.

A dear young boy from the city visited us the other day and heard a rooster crow from the barn. His immediate reaction was to cover his ears and suggest that we duct tape the roosters mouth. I wasn’t offended. I found it curious. I felt compassionate in that moment. Not only have we (city folks) been separated from the sources of our food but we’ve actually come to feel disdain for the animals that feed us.

We may be boarding up our grocery stores due to union disputes but please tell me that we won’t be boarding up our barns anytime soon as well. At least I would prefer to let that rooster tell his side of the story a little while yet.

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