I mentioned to my then-18-year-old that I’d written about homemade oatmeal in a jar here on Attainable Sustainable.
“That’s not very sustainable,” he said. “We can’t grow oats here.”
Being reasonable about sustainability
He’s right. My oat habit is not entirely sustainable. I can’t grow oats myself. I can’t get locally grown oats. But, while I like the idea of utter and complete sustainability, it’s not something I’m aiming for. Certainly, in a pinch or emergency situation, we’d do without, but I’m just not willing to do that as part of my day-to-day diet. Instead, my compromise is to buy our oats in 25-pound brown paper sacks. The same could be said for the flour, the dry beans, and the cornmeal that I buy. They’re not grown here, but by buying large quantities of real food and cooking from scratch, I’m causing less of an impact on the landfills and our environment than if I were buying, say, ready to eat granola bars and Lunchables.
One food a day seems do-able
Interestingly, just last week, Tamar from Starving off the Land left a comment that I think it’s worth repeating:
We’ve found that the one-food-a-day challenge finds the middle ground between being completely self-sufficient (which we’re not even shooting for) and doing nothing at all (which we could easily backslide into). It means that, every single day, I’m thinking about making sure I’ve foraged, fished, grown, or hunted at least one ingredient in our diet (that, or excavated it from the freezer, where I put it after I foraged, fished, grew, or hunted it last year). It keeps me thinking about what I’m doing out here — trying to eat as much first-hand food as possible — without making me feel like a failure for not doing more.
The key here is the word attainable.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s very, very important to be sourcing as much as we can locally. Supporting local farmers means that a community will continue to have a source of fresh foods. And it means those foods haven’t been trucked in using precious fossil fuels. But I also think it’s important to be realistic, too. What most of us can grow ourselves is limited, but we can learn to make better choices about the ingredients we do buy.
What about you? Are you aiming for complete self-sufficiency? Or are you just working toward improving your footprint on this earth?