27 January 2013

Choice is Addictive

I made a commitment a few weeks ago to get back to the theme of this blog, compassionate climate action — this time, focusing on food growing and food security. So I'm rereading The 100 Mile Diet right now, a wonderfully written, evocative book that definitely makes me think about my food choices.

The other day, however, I started thinking about my food choices from a different place. I visited Walmart for the third time in my life (don't ask). After provisioning my hubby for a stint of granddog-sitting (don't ask), we wandered a bit. Suddenly, in the middle of an aisle in the middle of a warehouse-sized everything store bigger than the community I live in (well, almost), I stopped and burst into tears. 

"This is what's killing everything," I sobbed, leaning on the super-sized cart. "All this. All this choice, all this sense of entitlement. People thinking they can have anything they want, anytime they want, at the cheapest possible price."

I heard a woman with a cart filled to overflowing with boxes of processed foods telling the cashier that her daughter was considered "difficult" at school. I so wanted to say something, but decided against it. I wanted to ask her if she'd like a simple antidote (fresh fruits and vegetables) for her child's behaviour, but chickened out. 

So perhaps I've been barking up the wrong tree when I call Wall Street and fossil fuel corporations "the juggernaut." Maybe Walmart and all the big box stores in North America are the juggernaut — and we're pushing ourselves under the wheels. 

Choice is addictive. It's not fossil fuels we're addicted to, it's choice. The word "choice" comes from the French choisir - to choose. 

What if we started choosing to let the Peruvians eat their own asparagus in December, and the Californians their own strawberries in January? What if we chose to buy less food, waste less food, eat less food? Or at least less unhealthy food? I'm all for everyone in North America eating more kale! (And learning to grow it first.) What if we set up information booths outside every grocery store to tell shoppers what fruits and veggies are in season? Or to offer them a different nutrition lesson each time they shop? To show them the connections between their food choices and the climate change emergency? What if every region had a community farm and every school a schoolyard garden?

What if we started choosing to acquire our food in a way that contributed to the healthiest possible future for ourselves, for our children — and for the Earth? Could that kind of choice ever become addictive?

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?