Recently I've been struck down by either pregnancy-induced nausea, vomiting, and fatigue or the flu - I haven't quite figured out which [ironic that carrying life can be confused with an infectious disease]. Regardless, I haven't spent much time in the kitchen and have instead relied on canned applesauce, plain rice cakes, and the homemade soups that fill my freezer. Well, that and the unbelievable unselfishness and strength of my husband who is not only the breadwinner of the family but has now taken on the title of Mr. Mom. Throw in my fabulous friend who lives next door and things are taken care of around here.
All this being said, I have had plenty of time to think in between cursing the porcelain throne [or the plastic blue bucket that has taken up residence bed-side]. Actually for the last few weeks the idea of boundaries has really been on my mind. Not boundaries in the sense of rules, regulations, or something imposed on the masses by others more powerful than those masses. These type of boundaries make many of us either shake in rage or want to move to a private island somewhere.
The type of boundaries I am referring to are self-imposed, ones born of love and respect. I have been thinking a lot about the way I raise my daughter. I give her limits, guidelines, a path with fencing so to say because I love her and want to keep her physically safe as well as grow her compassion for people and respect for the world around her. My dream is that she will grow up to cherish life's simple pleasures. That she'll be able to find joy in the small things so that she doesn't become bored with all things.
The irony of all these efforts is that somewhere along the line my boundaries for her won't be sufficient anymore. I'm beginning to realize that as we grow into adults many of us loose the boundaries that we were given throughout our childhood. Of course we live within legal, moral, and spiritual guidelines and those demanded by pregnancy, disease, food allergies, and other similar limitations but some of the simple boundaries taught by our parents are quickly forgotten when we taste freedom. Call it adolescent rebellion, ignorance, or boredom but we can easily loose our values when the sky is the limit [which actually isn't true anymore since "we've" been to the moon].
America is notorious for this - unlimited pleasure and freedom. "Don't fence me in" our battle cry. Don't get me wrong, our freedom has been heroically fought for by many brave men and women and I am so grateful to them. But have we abused the same freedoms many have paid, and pay, for with their lives?
This has led me to contemplate boundaries in my own life, specifically food choices. Local eating has really become important to me over the years but even so I still rely on many products from other states and, in some cases, countries. It seems that "exotics" have ceased to be exotic. Maybe this is because many local products have become inedible for me [wheat, dairy, soy, corn]. Maybe it's because I haven't adequately trusted in the idea of partnering local and healthy eating [can a predominately vegetarian health nut live without avocados?]. Or maybe it's because I haven't had any boundaries in place forcing me to ask the tough questions, make educated decisions, and out of my comfort zone [especially on winter-y Saturday mornings].
Unfortunately, and you can choose to believe this or not, the world we live in is not invincible. Decisions made over the last century have had their toll on our earth and things are changing. I'm beginning to wonder if I don't begin to live in my own self-imposed boundaries will I be forced to live in ones imposed by our earth? The bigger question for me is - am I willing to make a few, and lets be honest minimal, sacrifices now so that my daughter's biggest question is also "can I live without avocados?" rather than "can I live without clean water, unpolluted soil, or clear air?" - we of course all know the answer to both of those questions. It's the reason the Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean and why Georgians underwent panic when Lake Lanier's water levels dropped dangerously low a few years ago. We pipe in water from non-renewable aquifers 300 miles away to hydrate our southwestern states. Sustainable? You be the judge.
I recently read that if every US citizen intentionally ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil each week. Now I realize that I can't make every US citizen change but I can change. I can choose to reduce my oil consumption and maybe, just maybe, change a piece of the world in the process.
So I'm wrestling with the idea of choosing a few non-negotiable [well, at least at this point] non-local food items and ditching the rest. Bananas and avocados, I'm sorry but you will have to be reserved for holiday celebrations. Oranges, I'll see you in my stocking Christmas morning. Olive oil, well you're sticking around because let's face it, there's no good substitute and I don't see olive groves growing in my backyard anytime soon.
I ponder, as I peruse the remaining contents my pantry and refrigerator, do I eat these things because I crave them or because they are available? What would happen if my life became free of some of these non-local, gas intensive crops? Would I begin to see and crave more local fare?
Right now these questions will have to remain unanswered for me but I can at least take a step. Ridding my life of a few products and maybe a bit of pollution and petroleum reliance may be a bit painful at first [oh, guacamole...] but I think it might just be worth it.
Besides, asparagus season is just around the corner and then those fence lines won't seem as intrusive anymore.