Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Season's Greetings

Don't panic - go organic. The late Margaret Jones, one of the stalwarts of the Soil and Health Association, used to say this phrase a lot. I don't know if people are aware of the oil crisis that seemed to have been going on ever since the 70s, but somehow managed to get subsumed by Al Gores 'Inconvenient Truth', climate change, and reducing 'carbon footprint' movements. 'Sustainable' has become a byword and to be vegan is now a trendy thing. Although, I noted, it can be quite expensive to be vegan and hipster. Sometimes its laughable at peoples hypocrisy, you might buy vegan cheese, but it's wrapped in a plastic wrapper which is unrecyclable, and could kill whales. Plus it might be shipped from miles away consuming polluting fossil fuels to get to the market.  To consciously NOT consume and make do or make our own goes against everything the global economy tells us, especially around Christmas time.

I had been watching 'The Power of Community' How Cuba survived Peak Oil. This documentary showed how, under communism when oil was restricted commodity, the Cuban economy ground to a halt. The nation nearly starved because much of the food grown was for export and they didn't grow enough to feed their own nation.  They had relied on imports and chemical agriculture to run their farms but when they had no access to fertilisers and no oil to run the tractors, guess what happened? The people started growing their own food and converting vacant lots to organic gardens, out of necessity. The market place became local. People had to ride bicycles or convert trucks into buses and wait hours for a bus ride because oil was scarce and expensive.

Everything became slow. Energy that depended on fossil fuel was restricted, so people looked to free solar power to heat their water. At first, life was hard and it was a massive change, people had to adjust but a few years later people were thriving. They learned to grow their own food using permaculture methods. They learned to make do..and families and communities became closer as a result because they needed each other to make it work. People became gardeners and farmers and it was no longer a lowly position but one held in highest esteem - it was putting food on the table. Instead of buying things, people swapped and shared goods. The Cubans called this economic/energy crisis of their history the 'Special Period'.

Would my mum survive if she could no longer eat rice imported from China as her staple? Could we grow enough of our own to feed ourselves? I think we all have the brains and know how and resources to manufacture our own goods and grow our own food, and we are blessed with a good climate and fertile land to do so. But currently, we are wasting a lot of resources in a bid to become 'world class' and attract the almighty dollar. Even our organic food is exported overseas while our own native citizens end up becoming homeless and we constantly import non-organic food.  We import drugs and harmful pharmaceuticals but export life-giving food. I don't know when it will end but in a global economy the bigger nations are going to always have more buying power than the smaller ones. That's just simple mathematics. Unless we make our money from gambling. But I digress. John Key already did that, it was called investment banking and allowing land to be sold to overseas speculators and developers.

I say this Christmas, please, don't spend it at the shopping mall, the temples of consumerism. Let's enjoy the season and enjoy sharing its fruits, especially with those who are less fortunate,  the miracle of the birth of a King, and the crimson pohutakawas and christmas lilies which are blooming early this year. Instead of a silly season, it could be our special season.