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“I champion the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the simple and the persecuted. I maintain that whosoever benefits or hurts a man benefits or hurts the whole species. I sought my liberty and the liberty of all, my happiness and the happiness of all. I wanted a roof for every family, bread for every mouth, education for every heart, light for every intellect. I am convinced that human history has not yet begun, that we find ourselves in the last period of the prehistoric. I see with the eyes of my soul how the sky is diffused with the rays of the new millennium.” – Bartolomeo Vanzetti (Anarchist suspected in murder and robbery along with another – Nicola Sacco. Both were convicted in one of the most controversial trials in the United States and executed in 1927.)
It is that simple. When I left blogging here more than a year ago to pursue more work outside of my home, I was working under misconceived notions. I was thinking that I could earn money and contribute to our family income. I was thinking that it would help John have to work less hours outside of the home. I was thinking that extra money would bring us things we needed and deserve. I’d be lying to if I didn’t say that I had started feeling stifled at home because of various aspects of my personality.
What I know now is that it was a wasted effort. I was leaving behind pursuits that would do so much to benefit my community and my family, in order to spend more time social networking, mailing letters, building websites, and writing newsletters for Birth True. All of that time I spent, countless hours, with little to no return. The clients I find are still typically word of mouth. My amount of actual paying work did not increase. The clients that were meant to find me still would have without those advertising efforts. It is sad that we have to learn some things in ways that make us sacrifice so much.
Time… time that I’ll never get back with my girls. Sure, I still homeschooled. I still took them to activities. There just wasn’t time for much else. We weren’t outdoors as much. I was frustrated more. They played and I didn’t pay attention as often to where their minds were at. Now, I have a 7 and 4 1/2 year old who need me just a little less. It is precious – time.
But, it is ok. I’ve learned lessons the hard way before and I have found that it is most often those lessons that produce the greatest results in us. What I know now is that there is a term for what John and I set out to do when we moved back home. Our mindset then was fresh, adventurous, and yet there were other couples all over the place doing the same thing for good reason. It is radical homemaking.
I read two articles recently that grabbed my attention. I was feeling called back to tradition, and into something new altogether at the same time. Coming across those articles in the same period of time was no accident. It was Creator sending a clear message to me.
The first article was by Charles Eisenstein called “Don’t Should on Us” in the magazine Pathways to Family Wellness. I immediately related it to my birth advocacy and wrote about it on Birth True Blog. Eisenstein write that our “selfish” interests, or what I took to mean our instinct to self preserve and thrive, directs us in three ways – choices that are simple, close to nature, and close to community.
The second article was by Shannon Hayes in Taproot Magazine and was called “To Retreat or Engage”. She explained how civic engagement happened within our duties in the home. That by living the life we were making a huge impact. Her article kicked the switch in my soul. I knew exactly what Creator was calling me to do, and for once so many pieces of the last year fit perfectly in this vision. So, I bought her book Radical Homemakers and am still reading it, devouring every word.
Hayes writes in Radical Homemakers that radical homemakers tend to be on a 3-step path:
I am now re-entering the renouncing stage and I will move quickly I imagine into reclaiming and then back to rebuilding.
Entering the rebuilding phase did not preclude a return to the other phases. The myriad stages of life are forever presenting new challenges that require everyone to occasionally retreat from the public sphere to regain skills and life balance and to critically evaluate the societal givens that they may have to consider at that time. – Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers
So, what am I renouncing this time. Broader American consumerist culture had held a veil over my eyes. I am renouncing my participation in it with renewed fervor. I am not a contestant in the rat race and I am returning to the choice not to be. Does that mean that I don’t value my work with women and babies? Absolutely not! I value it more than ever. I’m just trusting that as I am needed I will be called upon. I’ve also decided to take barter as a method of payment for my time and services. Money doesn’t have to change hands for my work to be valued, and not only that, but it also makes my services accessible to most if not all those who are interested. I’m stepping more fully into my place in my community, while also offering my services across the globe through the internet.
This whole thing culminated with my watching the film Sacco & Vanzetti the other night on Netflix. Hearing the quote from Vanzetti that I began this post with, filled my heart. We are missing so much in our society. Happiness is not found in consumerism, materialism, or corporate manipulation of the people. We are puppets as long as we participate. We are leaving the prehistoric behind out of necessity. A new paradigm for living is emerging.
I am being called back into my home, into tradition, to learn new skills, to be with my family, to be fully present for my community both locally and globally. I’m so excited to continue to share this journey here. These new plans I have. I revamped the Birth True site today to reflect some of this new stuff. Now, I’m going to put my efforts where it will have the most impact.
And… just for the brightest of reading experiences. Guess who sits up on her own at 5 months?! Gweneth Lenore. Gotta love a clothes basket for safe supervised sitting fun!
2010 proved to be a very trying year for us. I was almost glad to see it go. 2011 has already proved to bring with it great change. Not only in our lifestyle and goals, but for me – my very being. The end of 2010 had us reconsidering everything. Our bank account was hacked and we lost all our money. Ivy got really sick, and we found out we had E.Coli in our drinking water and coliforms in our well water. Ivy is still dealing with stomach issues because of that. I am taking the girls to my mother’s or John’s mother’s for their baths, and we are drinking store bought water now. We re-evaluated our money making efforts, and had made a plan when the Lord blessed us both with new more regular jobs! Mine being one I can do mostly from home.
It has been really hard promoting my birth work in that it takes great, constant effort. I get tired of the promoting part. I love the work, and am working on some decisions to make things a bit more clear for me goals wise. I have been so absorbed in getting my name out there, that I didn’t expect at all getting my first two (what I would consider larger scale) publications back to back earlier this year! It was an awesome surprise. It blessed my heart immensely.
So, what I am trying to say is… it is a time of cleaning out. Before I briefly ended the blog last summer, I had began a post called Wake Up and Prioritize. I don’t think I ever really did that then, and I forgot that realization all together, making summer a struggle for me. I’ve come back around now, and I think I’m at a place where I can actually act on that realization.
I’m looking at things with fresh eyes. Doing a lot of reading of some good philosophical and spiritual texts. I am learning what isn’t serving me or my family. Sometimes it is hard to let go of activities that you have pursued with great momentum. When I left the blog, I thought I’d spend less time on the computer – I spent more. It was mostly researching for my work and trying online advertising like – Facebook. Since being more active on Facebook, I have had trouble with mental chatter (though I know Facebook isn’t the only reason, and probably not the biggest). It’s kind of like the news feed on Facebook, except through my mind and my own thoughts (well, that’s arguable too… 🙂 ). I don’t know really how well being on Facebook has benefited me personally – business wise maybe somewhat, though I do value some of the business things/connections I do/have there greatly. A Facebook friend shared this link not too long ago – 30 Day Facebook Fast. I just read it today, and he makes some really, really good points. I had been thinking of pulling back before I read this, but I’m pretty sure I will now from my personal page. I will keep up with my business page and another responsibility, and see what changes. Then, I’ll look closer at any benefits having a regular business presence there has, and go from there.
I’m looking at this because balancing homelife (mothering, housekeeping, homesteading, and homeschooling) with a career life (birth business, advocacy, and writing) is hard. It is hard to prioritize those things. On one hand, you want to say homelife always comes first. On the other, if I don’t work very hard at the career life we might get wiped out again financially and with no health insurance, and some debt, that is not something that you easily recover from. Plus, I do like my “career” life. I think my work is important work. Something that brings fulfillment and enjoyment. That’s what I’ve always said is important when thinking about what you will do as a job the rest of your life. Not, how much money you can make. Then, my children will only be children once. My biggest responsibility is to them, their well-being (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) and their livelihood. I love them, and they deserve the best of me. I then come to the answer – a perfect balance.
Our lifestyle is a bit unique, but it fits John and I. We’ve never “conformed” all that well, and finding our place and what we can contribute has been a journey we’ve enjoyed. I’m thankful that I still live a life that leaves room to explore, begin new things, to change. I’m not stuck in any place.
So, on top of reconsidering the benefits of Facebook, I’ve been doing other things. Once again, cleaning out the cabin – except this time in a more drastic way. If we haven’t used it in a few years, or if it isn’t an heirloom – it’s out. Not selling, not trying to find homes for things, but just sending them away to a place where if someone needs them they can be obtained for free. I’m also writing out daily/weekly goals. Reading the Bible in a year. Recommiting to my role as wife and mother, and looking at what I hope for my birth work with self respect, needs of women, and the needs of my community in mind. For my work, that might mean changes in form or approach. For my mothering that means working hard to be fully present in the now. I’m feeling relieved. I think that is why I came back here. This is a thoughtful place.
Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… Those words were the mantra of my time spent in early new motherhood when we lived in Louisville. We have never bought cable or satelitte since we’ve been married, but we were excited when we got almost 7 channels on our TV with a regular antennae. I love KET, all the versions. I grew up watching KET (Kentucky Educational Television) and the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) programming they aired. Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, The Write Channel, were staples of my education, and I have to say it is a huge part of what gave me the courage to call myself a writer. A huge part of who I am as a person.
Deladis was about 2 years old when she was watching evening programming with me as I rocked her to sleep. Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… flowed out of the television and Deladis repeated the words with the same cadence and tone as it was spoken by the narrator. My eyes welled with tears. It was one of the first times I realized that she heard words like I do. Hearing those words spoken in that way for that KET advertisement made me proud to be a Kentuckian. I loved hearing them, and in them Deladis heard the same value. KET and PBS produce such a quality programming, which is so hard to find now days.
Now, that we live back in the hills, we don’t get any channels. We watch television and movies through Netflix. I watch KET/PBS anytime I get the chance – renting their shows through Netflix and watching for free online through their websites. Public broadcasting is still such a part of our lives through radio as well. NPR and PRI programming through WEKU and are my chosen sources for news, education, and entertainment in the car and at home. Not only that, but WMMT (Mountain Community Radio) is our community’s (Appalachia’s) leading source for programming that is at the heart of our culture and community. I host a show on there once a month called Mountain Talk.
It was only a week or so ago, when no radio was playing, or TV going, Deladis broke out in her play as perfect as a radio announcer and said – “P…R…I… Public Radio International.” I felt the tears well again. Her gorgeous child’s voice, hearing words so beautifully. It’s an awesome thing for me as her mother to hear.
So, right now my heart hurts over the funding cuts proposed by our Congress to all public broadcasting – radio and television. It would mean the end of so many of the shows I value so much. Not only have they proposed this but also complete cuts of funding for preventing teen and unplanned young adult pregnancy programs, and cutbacks for initiatives geared toward maternal and child health. I have no clue what is going on here. I understand we need to budget, but there are so many programs wasting government money, not to mention the government itself, that I can’t see justification in cuts such as these. I don’t like to get political here, but in this case I have to write on it. Funding cuts for the arts, public broadcasting, family health, education, etc… really???
Read KET’s urgent plea here. Make your voice heard. Mr. Fred Rogers isn’t around to do it for us this time as he did in 1969. Can someone… can we fill his shoes?
I call it just a day. A real day. I spent time away from the computer. I opened and learned the new pressure canner I bought. We have so many tomatoes, and I know I need to learn to put things up. It’s part of it. Though I have heard the stories of pressure canners blowing people up, I know they must be relatively safe, and it is time I got acquainted. Tomatoes are supposedly easy to put up.
I hate reading manuals. I like my reading to have a narrative quality even if non-fiction. I’d much prefer learning my being taught by a breathing being, but time has not allowed me that, and none of my family that lives closer to us cans. I withstood the reading, working through the text step by step, trying to be hands on instead of reading and then doing. I readied 7 quart jars. I knew I’d fill those and have left overs. Yet, when I smashed in the tomatoes as instructed by the manual, I found that I could only fill 4 of those.
As soon as the jars were prepared, the girls and I got the best surprise. At my back door, stood my daddy. He had come just in time to be present for my blowing up the house. But, it all went off without a hitch. The best part is my daddy was smiling and seemed at ease. He has a job that carries with it a huge responsibility, and sometimes I wish he could leave it behind. I always remember my happy daddy fondly. Nobody else can be happy like him. When he is happy he can hold the world on his back and go with simple movements, unhindered, laughing. Oh, the laughing.
Dad helped me fix the air conditioner away from the stove. Our little wall unit blows the flame on my gas stove, so I had turned it off. It was like a sauna in the cabin. He couldn’t stay long and we were alone again. The jars finished processing. I did my yoga practice. Ivy napped. When I got the jars out of the canner, I got this…
Floaters. I should have poured off the juice I got after packing and put in more tomatoes. The jars are sealed though, and John’s Mamaw – canner extraordinaire – says they are going to be just fine to eat. They will be used for soups and sauces this winter. I’m so pleased that the blight didn’t wipe them out this year like our last year’s crop. We are making progress even if baby steps. We’ll eventually walk with few stumbles, then glide.
Yesterday, we went on a trip spearheaded by illustrious Nathan Hall to tour the Abingdon, Virginia Farmer’s Market and the organic farm of Anthony Flaccavento. He is the director of Appalachian Sustainable Development, an organization that supports local economy, especially in the form of sustainable agriculture and local eating. Flaccavento along with others in the area brought about a change in the local economy of a region of Appalachia that is an inspiration to folks living in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. Opposed to common thought, not all of Appalachia is filled with coal nor is dealing with the results of surface mining (strip mining or mountaintop removal – all other words for it). The questions for us in the coalfields being whether a coal economy is serving us now, or whether it will provide an economy for us in the future. However, many Appalachian towns are looking to rebuild or redevelop their local economies in order to provide opportunities for their citizens and to keep their towns alive and thriving. Some see the answer as being the urbanization of Appalachia, or the move to a more universal American pop culture for all. Others see Appalachia surviving on a more modern version of going back to its roots, and that is where the Haywood’s fall.
Hello, this is me, and I will be your tour guide for this adventure showing some of the possibilities for a future for the residents of eastern Kentucky.
This is Nathan Hall, the brains and organizer of the adventure without which folks like me would not be able to focus enough to pull this sort of thing off. 🙂
He’s fixing to be a world traveller soon, to learn more about sustainable economies throughout the world. He’ll be leaving the holler on July 22nd and will be blogging about his adventures at There and Back. My greatest wish for the year without him is that John and I can continue to move forward with all the biggness that has come about at The Confluence this year.
Our first stop in Abingdon was the Farmer’s Market. It was lovely to see such a bustling place in a small town. There were about 60-80 vendors. It warmed my heart to see that many of them were family operations with the children fully involved and content to be there.
All of these were area farmer’s, merchants, food businesses, and crafts people. One farmer recently said he makes $30,000 a year off of a little more than an acre of veggies. That would be a nice living for our family. The ownership of your own livlihood is a great thing.
There was a wide variety of things represented there both organic and conventional.
The market is completely ran by the growers/vendors, but is supported by the city. The market is its own entity with its own board.
Next, we took a lunch at Harvest’s Table, a restaurant running on the influence of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In the foyer, local artists, writers, musicians, and crafts people are supported through the selling of their wares. The food is all local and seasonal. I had the corn and tomato salad with a garnish of fruit and goat cheese. It was so yummy! I didn’t expect it to be when I saw it, but it was. Another interesting thing was all of the soups were chilled for summer – cantaloupe, cucumber, and gazpacho.
After eating, we went out to Anthony’s farm.
The farm was not tremendously large, but it was much bigger than what we are attempting at this time. Flaccavento has employees and interns on the farm. He is certified organic, and uses methods that I have never seen before to achieve store quality results. I’m used to traditional, personal gardening techniques, and it was all a little overwhelming and intimidating. We are definitely not ready for large scale production, but we can work up to producing for more than just our family, learning as we go and following the market.
Flaccavento and other farmers sell to area grocery stores, restaurants, and at the Farmer’s Market. They have developed a distribution center called Appalachian Harvest that works with grocery stores and some restaurants.
It was most definitely an motivating trip. John says we’ll be old before we see any kind of business result from our work. He insists we must build slowly, and on that point I agree. But, I think with focused work, we can begin to broaden our views sooner rather than later. I have dreams, and a lot of the time they leave me pining for the grass is greener rigormoroar. I see us working side by side on something that brings us even more together. Making our living through our own two hands, enjoying the land, and using our talents in a more relaxed way. Creating something to pass on to our girls. I try to live in the present. I try.
This is a video that made me so happy to see. Leave it to Sesame Street to help us all have a positive, pure respresentation in the media of this world. This clip is of a mailman who delivered mail in our area (not too far from where we live, in the same county) in the 60s/70s. Roads like we have today are relatively new here. Most of our parents and grandparents grew up kind of like our girls are growing up on our holler. No “true” road, or a creekbed for a road. Because of this, horse was still the most convenient means of gettting from here to there. In the county where we live, many women were still having their babes at home, doing the doctoring for their families, organizing church meetings, and teaching the children the 3Rs at this time. It has not been that long ago that many of us lived in intentional communities where most of our needs could be met within a few miles from home. This was out of necessity, but something that, if you were to talk to the elders in our hills, was a thing of pride. I think our future will look similar. Our economy will eventually return to our own two hands, and be ours to create. The truth is that Appalachia is not urban, and cannot be made urban, and any effort to do so will only continue to bring ruin to our people. OK, off my soapbox. I hope you enjoy the video.
Pictures coming as soon as John comes home with his banjo case where the USB cord for the camera is located. Why? We don’t know. 🙂
It has been quite awhile since I have written anything about our efforts with the homestead. The Confluence (the name of our homestead, homeschool, and educational organization) has grown since last year. Instead of the one garden plot that we had next to the cabin last year, we kept it and added two more down by the barn. The two new plots get full sun, so our corn, tomatoes, peppers, berry bushes, watermelons, peas, broccoli, cabbage, onions, swiss chard, and spinach is there. Here at the cabin plot, I have put in the potatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, and dill. We still have some more tomatoes, lettuce, lavender, pumpkins, several bean varities, and sunflowers to plant. I haven’t decided exactly where they will go. They will be in the ground either this evening or tomorrow. However, I will not be planting while the sun pours down across my back. My shoulders and forehead are sunburned and I have the hot chills. Our planting takes quite awhile, because we do it all by hand, scooting across the ground, pinching and dropping seeds. Someday, we’ll have more equipment.
We hope to have enough produce to sell a bit this year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that John will get a chance to work on the barn so we can get a chicken flock that will be protected from predators, and eventually a few goats. I’d like to be able to sell eggs as well. John has mentioned wanting to spend more of his time on the homesteading, and for it to work as we have dreamed, that will have to be the case. Our friend Nathan has been helping us along, but he will be leaving on a year long, around the world trip in August. Another friend Brett Ratliff has been helping as well. He is a musician and travels quite a bit as John does, so his time exists a bit of everywhere. Both of them are bachelors with nothing tying them down – free spirits those boys, and huge helps as they can be. So, then there is me – mountain mama of two under five. 🙂 I can get a lot done, but not enough. If John is able to be here a bit more, then it will be a huge help for the homesteading dream.
The Confluence in it’s current existence is our home and Nathan and Brett call the cabin at the mouth of the holler home. The four of us are working on this project together as our time allows. We are planning to bring it into a place where we offer workshops on sustainable agriculture and traditional music. John’s art studio is here, and he plans to open that to the public. We may host some small group events as we are approached to do so for traditional music, arts, sustainable living, natural family living, and childbirth preparation. Eventually, when Nathan comes back from traveling the world, we may apply for non-profit status.
So, this year, we are slowly moving forward, and we are happy with that. John is so good for me in that regard. I’m like a wild filly out of the gate. I want to do everything in short order. But, we are moving just as fast as we are supposed to. Any faster would be overwhelming. We have heard rumors of Farmer’s Markets organizing, so my goal is to participate in those as we can. I am prepared to do a lot of preserving food too.
I’m excited about the opportunities this brings to my life. I am scattered all over the place right now, and if you asked me what I wanted personally, the list would be ridiculous. My goals are in some sort of transition period. I started simple when I began this blog, and then at some point realized that something wasn’t working or wasn’t enough. I’m still trying to set on what that something is, and at this point it is taking the form of many projects. I will figure it out. It’ll be a dang good thing when I do. 🙂
The last week (well, since Tuesday) I’ve felt like Death warmed over. Now, I ain’t been too far from home, so I don’t know if that is strictly an Appalachian expression, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were. Us mountain folk love to discuss our ailments. I don’t know when that came about, but as long as I have been alive, it has been true.
It usually goes a little something like this…. You see Linda’s, Mamaw Flora at the grocery store. You go to church with Linda, so you feel you should say a hello.
“Hello there, Flora. How you today?”
“Aw, not too bad. I got the arthritis so bad in my hip I can’t hardly get up and down. Linda can’t help me none… much. She had the stomach virus this week, and Fred (Linda’s husband) has been down in his back. He’s too old to be working underground, but he can’t retire. Not right now. But, we ain’t doing too bad. Can’t complain.”
So, I’ve felt like Death warmed over, folks. I’ve had the whole sinus thing going on, and I’ve just felt plumb wiped out. John’s been off his feet because of swelling and blisters from all the hard work he’s had to do these last weeks. Winter was rough on us this year. But, we can’t complain.
This week we’ve had visitors from Princeton University who said the trip to the cabins here to talk to John and George were the highlight of their trip. I haven’t felt like keeping up with the girls, but they kept up with me. 🙂
Ivy found the dress up clothes that Deladis never bothered with, and was a Princess for two days.
Deladis had to get in on the picture taking fun without really playing dress up.
Today, we were all feeling a little better. The girls went to stay with John’s mom last night, and husband and I got some much needed sleep. The sunshine this morning lured us out to the barn and the garden plot we’ll be sharing with our friend and now neighbor, Nathan Hall, for some work. Nathan has huge ideas of the real learned variety. He has somewhat of a degree in agriculture. We’ll have a nice organic garden this year. 🙂
This morning we spread nice wet and aged poopy throughout the area where we will plant over the next few weeks. The aged poopy came from the barn, and the nice fresh stuff, Nathan brought back from some where off.
This area will be disced and more manure spread as we go along.
Soon, we will be adding more animals to the mix. We’re looking for meat goats and some larger chickens for egg laying. We did get six eggs from our house hen yesterday! Crazy! They are tiny little things too. She isn’t setting though, so they’ll be breakfast.
It’s a beautiful day, and John’s Mamaw is celebrating her 82nd by cooking her family a nice old time dinner. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend and being a little better than not bad. 😉
I want to begin by apologizing for not quite keeping up here with the comments and posting these last few months. I want everyone to know I read every comment and respond in my mind (Hopefully, I will be able to do better about posting those thoughts as we get back into a healthy post holiday rhythm). I very much value the interaction on this blog and the others I read. It’s nice to have online community.
So, we just got back from Cincinnati visiting some family there. We went to the zoo’s Festival of Lights and saw an amazing light display, some neat animals (an eastern screech owl up close and personal, shown by a delightful caregiver, and some spectacular insects), and an outdoor show by the Madcap Puppet Theater in about 10 degree weather. 🙂 It was their Christmas present for the girls, and I am so grateful for it. Both Deladis and Ivy were in high hog heaven. 🙂
But… the highlight of the trip for my personal self was a trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up on some hard to find grocery items. I had read various women sing the praises of Trader Joe’s on internet forums, and I had never experienced for myself. I have fallen in love, and I want to know how you can get a store like that to come to a rural place like this. The first surprise was the size. It was a tiny, quaint store. I didn’t know what to expect, and while I didn’t see shelves and coolers filled with a crazy variety of food like you would at a Whole Foods store, I saw just enough. It was almost perfect – almost. The prices were the kicker for me. I found Trader Joe’s bacon that was nitrate/nitrite/MSG free for $3.99. I bought 4 packs. Here you pay $4.99. Frozen blueberries for $2.99 (12 oz.). Gluten Free Mac-Cheese for $0.99 a box! I found whole milk yogurt with a higher fat content than Yo’ Baby, and when you have a picky toddler who loves yogurt that is a blessing. Ivy needs all the fat she can get. It was wonderful. I bought four large canvas bags full to the top of good food for $137.00 I can’t believe how excited I get over food. I want a Trader Joe’s in the mountains. I pay twice the price for some of the things I bought today on a regular basis. I think that once local people saw the food was affordable, they’d be happy to shop there.
2010 is a good year. Heck, every year is a good year. We are blessed with life! I have been inspired in these last weeks, and I know without a doubt that I am being led, and I am taken care of. It’s nice to be assured of that. It’s freedom. It makes you want to do something about it. Over on a blog I found a few months ago a challenge is being held – Hip Mountain Mama (One Small Change) . She is encouraging people to make small changes in our living to create sustainability and positively influence our impact on the environment. John and I try to work on this every day. It is of a great deal of importance to us as energy issues impact our everyday life with the coal industry being a crucial part of the economy of the mountains and living with the impact that has on our surroundings. We know that this isn’t a stable energy source, and it won’t be possible to fuel our local economy off of it forever, and John and I both believe we mountain folk need to start making those changes now and learn what we can do to sustain ourselves here. However, we know that coal provides about 80% of the nation’s electricity, so it is up to all of us to begin that change.
I probably won’t be able to keep up with the blog deadlines she has set, but I’m going to participate in my own way.
Here is what I want to change:
1. There is no recycling center in our county. The closest is about 30 miles away. Because of this we have stopped recycling. (And John watched a Penn and Teller BS episode and feels it might not be so bad. I don’t know. I’d have to revisit that episode myself.) So, in lieu of that, I’d like to reduce our waste. We have it down to about 1 garbage bag a week. The next change I think I will make it making some napkins to use in place of paper towels for eating and some mess clean up. I have some old sheets that would work perfect for that.
2. I’m going to make it a point not to buy bottled water when I am out and about. I plan to purchase a stainless steel water bottle and fill that to carry around. We use water we collect from the watering hole for consumption and cooking at home. Carrying that with us won’t be hard. Plus, after hearing about the movie Tapped, I am motivated. It is hard to think about when the local water supply can hardly be trusted because of recent petroleum spills and other such industrial pollutants. Praise God for our watering hole.
I challenge everyone to make one small change. Something you can feel good about.
I’m wonderfully optimistic about the year to come. I think I’m finally coming to an understanding of what it means to let go and let God. To kick off the new year, I have decided to start a series of posts on things we have a right to know about (in fact in many situations our life depends on it), but for whatever reason they are kept “secret” whether through planned secrecy or by tactful exclusion of information.
John and I spent the evening on the couch last night watching our new Netflix arrival – Food, Inc. . I’ve been waiting on this movie since it came out a while back. This film demystifies our current system of industrialized food and the problems that arise from our expectation of fast and cheap food.
It was a little over a year ago now when a prolonged illness of mine prompted me to switch our diet to a traditional foods diet as proposed by The Weston A. Price Foundation and authors like Sally Fallon and Nina Planck. Since then, I have noticed a tremendous change in my health and well being along with that of my husband and children. I have lost and maintained a 100 pound weight loss (though I was already losing weight before changing my eating, I contribute most of it to traditional foods). I have more energy. My gums no longer bleed when I brush or floss my teeth. But, the most noticeable for me is my relationship to food. I no longer fear food making me fat, because I know that what I am choosing to eat is real food and not something fabricated in a factory. I enjoy my food and I eat plenty of it. I’m eating things the diet industry tells us will make us obese and sick – butter, bacon, red meat, and whole fat dairy.
This approach to eating (I don’t call it a “diet” in the terms of how most of us view the word) has changed my life so completely that I can’t help but get excited about sharing it with others. However, all to often I have noticed people don’t want to hear the truth about where their food comes from, and I tend to get tuned out. Instead of accepting that there is a problem here and we are in need of huge change as a society, they continue to eat from the conventional store shelves food that more often than not is some kind of factory made variation of corn or soy bean products and they wonder why they are sick with things like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, or obesity. Why is that?
The fact of the matter is that we have a right to know where our food comes from and under what conditions it is being processed for our consumption. Our food is life. What we put into our body directly affects how we are able to live our life. However, now that our food supply is being controlled by just a few multi- million (billion) dollar corporations that treat their farmers and factory workers like second class human beings, who don’t care at all about the health of the animals they process for meat, and treat our meat, produce, and dry goods with a variety of chemicals to give them unnatural shelf lives, we are being kept in the dark of food practices that if they were public knowledge would incite the citizens of this country to demand a change.
The truth is that 1 in 3 children in this country born after 2000 will develop diabetes. 1 in 3 children in this country are either considered overweight or obese. Low-income Americans (under $30,000) a year find it hard to afford a healthy diet. This comes along with the idea of fast food being cheap. You now can buy chips for a lesser price than a head of broccoli, and then there are dollar menus at fast food restaurants. The question of food availability also arises. Living in rural Appalachia, I find it extremely difficult to find food I feel is appropriate for my family, and I have to make too many compromises.
Our country is facing an epidemic that is inexcusable. We owe our children a better chance at a healthy life than this. We owe it to ourselves as well. While industrialization has brought about many good changes in our way of life, when its principles are applied to certain more personal areas of our lives, we find we are detrimentally affected by its lack of concern for the greater human good as opposed to the low cost production industry holds so dear. A few profit from the loss of many.
After viewing this film and others like it, I can’t help but encourage others to become informed as well. Know where your food comes from. Know that in one pack of ground beef there is meat from 50-100 cattle. Know that most chickens raised for commercial slaughter for companies like Tyson never see the light of day or feel grass under their feet. In fact, they are lucky to be able to bear their own body weight on their brittle legs. Know that the tomato you are buying that is so pretty and red was shipped to your location in many cases over thousands of miles, and picked while still green. It was ripened chemically. Know this, and decide to change it. There are farmers out there with answers to this problem. We can have normal, affordable, healthy food. We can live without the fear of food related disease. Arm yourself with knowledge. Then, cast your vote for the foods you want every time you choose your purchases at the grocery.