Not Food, No Eat

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We visited Llyn Peabody and Chris Burns at Monroe Sharing Gardens to see the 130-year-old farmhouse they’ve transformed into a warm and happy house over the past year.

While we chopped fresh veggies, Llyn mentioned visiting a household living in noticeable poverty. There was a fruit tree in the front yard, with unpicked fruit rotting on the ground. Presumably the family ate primarily packaged, processed and fast foods. After all, they’re the cheapest, most accessible, and most easily prepared foods in America. I imagine they didn’t think of the fruit as food (I think of it as candy on a tree). I’m guessing that, in their experience, food comes packaged in a box, can, bottle, or other wrapper. That messy stuff under the tree? Not Food, No Eat.

Similarly, when we visited Evergreen College in Olympia, Robin was astonished to find unpicked huckleberries beside a walk path between buildings. “Don’t students know these are edible and much more flavorful than the invasive Himalaya berries everywhere?” she asked. Not Food, No Eat.

I am reminded of Jared Diamond’s recounting in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed about the Norse who settled in Greenland with their sheep. As the human populations grew and the sheep munched out the ecosystem—as consumption exceeded ecological limits—the people began to starve. But they never seemed to grok that the indigenous Inuit harvesting the oceans around them were not starving. Or they didn’t see marine life as food for themselves. What could’ve kept them from starving was invisible or unthinkable. Sea life? Not Food, No Eat.

Will people starve (or deepen their malnourishment) before partaking of garden veggies, fruit from trees planted by previous generations, or forage-able wild foods because Not Food, No Eat?

P.S. By contrast, the meal we shared with Llyn and Chris was almost entirely local: carrots, cabbage, squash, garlic, onions, tomatoes grown at their own hands plus eggs I got from a neighbor. The Super-Local 300 Foot Diet. Real Food, Nourishing Eats.

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