Harvesting Hope

I have just finished reading a very informative book by Jane Goodall on the subject of Food.  Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating has led me to reconsider the way I buy and cook and eat food.  Much of it is based on common sense and natural practices (What would a chimp choose to eat?  Have you ever seen an overweight chimp in the wild?), and much of it exposes the insanity that is our factory food production here in the “civilized” world. How civilized is it to cram thousands of chickens together in a cage, remove their beaks so that they can’t peck each other to death, pump them with antibiotics and force them to cannibalize their own kind by giving them non-vegetarian feed?  And then to slaughter them, ship their polluted flesh over thousands of miles burning fossil fuels, and eat it?  I was not thinking about that when I bought Super Saver packages of chicken breasts at my local super market.  I think about it now.

And here is the surprising gift of hope: my children have been thinking about this for years.  I didn’t lead the way. 

Here is another arena of hope: reclaiming, salvaging and recycling living space.  My daughter and her fiance purchased a home that had been severely water damaged and mold and mildew infested.  The inhabitants had moved out to hospice care and died; the house was abandoned, but the water wasn’t shut off.  In the winter freeze and thaw, the pipes broke and flooded the place.  What a mess!  But Joe comes from a family line of carpenters and construction wizards.  He has completely re-worked the house: plumbing, electric, heating, floor plan and surfaces.  He’s gotten neighbors, friends and family involved in the labor and in donating fixtures. The final step will be relocating the back yard garden.  You see, this house is just a few doors down the street from the one they’ve rented for the past 3 years.  So, by their wedding date one year from this month, they will have their own home and garden.  They are marvelous role models for sustainable living, and I am so proud of them! Yesterday I went down to visit and take pictures.  They sent me home with a bunch of produce from their garden.  I am so grateful and awed by how life unfolds.  The next generation is certainly capable of taking responsibility and working hard in a sustainable direction.  Let’s just hope many of them choose to!

12 thoughts on “Harvesting Hope

  1. Dear Scilla,
    What a fantastic post–what great kids. Thom has been a vegetarian since freshman year of college, and I mostly am. The kids ate mostly vegetarian because that’s what I cook. But when Eli went off to scout camp in sixth grade and had to gut and cook a chicken, that did it for him. And when he described in detail his reasons, that did it for Bea! When I go out to eat, which isn’t very often, I might order something I don’t cook at home, like chicken fajitas, but your post just did for me!

    • My kids are no longer strict vegetarians. Neither is Jane Goodall, actually. I’ve watched butchering at the living history museum, but I know that those animals live outside, healthy, happy lives. Joe hunts deer and makes great venison stew and marinated roasts. A small amount of meat is in the diet of chimps, too. I think the key for me hinges on scale and suffering. I’m not going to be dogmatic about it, but I definitely want to be mindful. For Ms. Goodall, as an ambassador to different cultures, she will eat what her hosts serve. Inuits are not vegetarians; their habitat forbids it. Still, they are respectful eaters. I admire that.

  2. How wonderful all this is and you are justifiably proud of your children, Priscilla.

    My son got me Jane Goodall’s book years ago. We’ve been mostly veggie for ages. I’ve been vegan for about ten years. Recently found out that I can no longer eat beans and some other vegetable sources of protein, which has been upseting … not the last because I love beans and lentils and the kindly life. So my docs and I compromised on three oz of sustainable line-caught fish a day … at least they have a normal life. I still hope to find another solution. Heart ache. I’d eat eggs if I could find a family farm that doesn’t toss away the male chicks … you know they toss them in a grinder alive to make feed. Awful.

    • I’ve seen video of those chicks…in a big eddy of down. The last batch of eggs I bought said “cage free, vegetarian fed” and was from a farm about 35 miles from here…also, “woman owned”. Hopefully that means she’s not breeding chicks and tossing the males?

      • I don’t know. They can’t do anything with the males. One day I sat down and called a lot of the companies to find out what they were doing. They were honest and owned up. At the same time, I think they’re trying to figure out how to bread for females only. ???? Good luck and love your high ideals, Priscilla. Many blessings,

  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge & Photography 101: Triumphs Converging | scillagrace

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