The daily choices that we make have either a positive or a negative effect upon our environment & believe me, those choices are significant. Have you ever considered how much of your income (& time) that you spend each week on just obtaining food? Now multiply this up for a whole year. Then multiply that by the number of people in our country alone. It’s a big number isn’t it?
So, where do you currently choose to spend that money (at the supermarket or from local producers & family businesses)? How do you spend that time (travelling back & forth from the shops & queueing at checkouts or growing your own in your garden)? These are choices that we can decide to change in any moment. We can decide to do that now. Every little thing that we change for the better makes a difference & is always worth doing. Is it clear now that we are not as powerless as we have all been led to believe?
Climate change certainly is occurring, but what is rarely mentioned is the significant role that modern farming practices are almost certainly playing in all of this. Energy-intensive fossil fuel use, economic subsidies that encourage overproduction, monocultures (huge areas of single crop), the massive use of pesticides, herbicides & chemical fertilisers, factory-scale meat & dairy production & poor countries growing luxury cash crops for Western greed. These are all practices that are poisoning our World & destroying the soil, without which nothing on Earth could live…. When we buy foods grown in these ways, we are not only funding these farming methods, we may just as well be carrying them all out ourselves.
Four crops now account for ninety percent of the food grown in the World – Maize, Wheat, Potatoes & Rice. These are all essentially prairie crops (in other words they like to grow in full sunlight with little competition) & creating the conditions that they like to grow in has now turned 41% of the World’s farming land into dry land or desert. That’s a shocking figure, but not an irreversible one; we can turn this around & we can start by taking responsibility for our own choices. The fact that worldwide we are growing so much of only these four crops serves to illustrate what an enormous effect our collective choices can make.
Permaculture helps us to become more aware of these choices & gives us solutions. It teaches us to ‘bring in our boundaries’; to reduce our environmental footprint (check yours out at www.myfootprint.org). Most of us now know that we can plant trees to offset the greenhouse gases produced through our own energy consumption. Indeed, this is the best time of year to do this, whilst the tree is dormant & I find that tree planting is also another great opportunity to reflect. Refining our food choices is another way for us to reduce our environmental footprint & planting fruit & nuts trees will do this for you immediately. By reducing the amount of land needed to grow our food (by growing more efficiently), we can return more farmland to wilderness; helping with the process of bringing us back into balance with nature again.