Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slow Down

Aussie blogger, Rhonda, at Down To Earth, has a wonderful feature on Fridays called On My Mind.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is the unsound notion that - faster and easier - is better. It is not better. It is not even good.

These two words - faster and easier - seem to be at the root of a myriad of bad decisions by the captains of industry and the politicians who enable them. Case in point. - Ontario, Canada.

I've lived my adult life in the U.S. but was raised in Canada. My memories of Ontario were ones of a pristine and bucolic land. How wrong I was. The land I revered as unspoilt was actually doused in Agent Orange during my childhood so that the New York Times and Washington Star could more easily harvest the black spruce they printed their Sunday issues on. Millions of acres of Crown land were poisoned. The intent was to defoliate the "weed trees" (birch, maple, poplar) amongst the spruce. This, according to this Toronto Star news report.

Maple is a weed tree? I always thought of it as the source of pancake syrup. (Not to mention the prominent symbol on the Canadian flag.)

Maple "weed tree" Leaf

The Canadian government, naively, also gave the thumbs up to an energy company, which sprayed Agent Orange all over the province to easily clear the corridors for power lines as fast as possible. The result: residential neighborhoods were sprayed with Agent Orange. It's downright depressing. See this report. I'm starting to wonder about those mysterious empty barrels that occasionally floated down the river we used to swim in as children. The river would get downright frothy when that happened.

Even as a young child I knew that poisoning the land was a bad idea. I fought my parents relentlessly about their decision to spray our lawn every season with pesticides to rid those pesky dandelions faster and easier. My protests fell on deaf ears. How can a child be wiser to the ramifications of chemicals than adults and leaders? Do they not fully process the consequences because the faster-easier principle has taken root in their psyche?

Faster-easier has brought us the fast food industry and a generation of obese, pre-diabetic Americans. Faster, easier has brought us the microwave. An appliance reported to change the molecular structure of foods and increase the potential for migrating chemicals from plastic to the foods being "nuked" in it.  I don't know about you, but I have never found that the use of a microwave has improved the taste or quality of any dish.

Yummy Slow-cooked Chicken Stock for Homemade Soups
Faster-easier has also brought us the leaf blower. A handy garden tool that not only creates noise pollution, but also airlifts mold spores and dried rodent feces while scattering rich topsoil hither and yon. Leaf blowers may make the job faster and easier but they are not friendly to asthmatics. There's been a drastic rise of asthma in the U.S. since the early 90s. One in 12 now has respiratory disease. Guess when sales of leaf blowers took off. Is there a correlation? You decide.

Discussing this horrendous Canadian Agent Orange event with my mother, she responded... "All in the past. There's nothing you can do but strive to make the future better. You are doing that." She's right. I compost, plant heirloom and organic vegetables, recycle religiously and share the delicious fruits of the garden with everyone I can in hopes of leading by example. But we need to do more to help others understand the ramifications of faster-easier when it comes to the environment and our health.

We have to spread the wisdom of sustainable living and importance of stewardship of the land, so that the next generation won't have to swim in a toxic soup. Exposing young minds to the joys of organic gardening and home cooking is a start.

White Carrots in my Garden
It's also a sound economic choice. And isn't that a timely topic?

Homemade Scones

Rhonda, at Down to Earth, mentioned an article reporting that new immigrants to her country who were in the habit of growing food in their gardens, tended to pay off their homes faster than those who didn't.

Fall Organic Beets, Carrots, Broccolini & Tomatoes from my Backyard Garden

Saving $25 a week by merely serving food from your garden would save $32,500 over the course of a 25 year mortgage. That's a staggering figure, and when you consider the cost of organic produce these days, you realize it doesn't take much to hit that $3.57 a day figure for food.

Potato Leek Soup made from Garden Veggies

Edible LandscapingI've recently read Edible Landscaping and it is an inspiring technique for designing a gorgeous and fruitful garden sanctuary. If you don't buy it, pick it up at your local library and take a look... and better yet, read it to your children. There are some very pretty pictures inside.

So what am I saying in this lengthy, earnest post? Simply, slow down. The food will taste better, the air and land will be healthier, the kids will make a few bucks raking leaves again, and the economy will begin to equalize once we come to terms with the fact that quality of life isn't found in the value of a stock... unless of course, that's chicken stock.

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