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FOOD MATTERS: Change only happens with action

There’s quite a well-known story about a woman who brought her 12-year-old son on a long and difficult walk to see Gandhi, whom she asked to tell the boy to stop eating so much sugar.

Gandhi told her to come back two weeks later, which she did. He told the boy to stop eating so much sugar, and such was the power of Gandhi’s influence that the boy agreed.

The mother wanted to know why she had to come twice. Gandhi’s answer was “Two weeks ago, I was still eating too much sugar myself.”

Gandhi believed that it is wrong to preach something you don’t practice.

We do it all the time, putting off simple do-able actions out of laziness, fear of being noticed or being out of the main stream, and lack of willpower.

Barbara Coloroso teaches about the bully, the bystander and the witness. Without the witness, who steps forward and says “I don’t agree with that,” the bullying goes on unchallenged and everyone continues being part of the problem instead of the beginning of the solution.

It may seem far out to take a stand on the destruction of our soils by developers, planners and politicians who have the authority to prevent loss of good soil, but I see it as more like the nail in the shoe of the horse for the want of which the shoe, the horse, the rider, the battle and the kingdom were lost.

Without the living soil, continuously replenished by natural carbons returning compost to make humus, we cannot grow healthy food.

Geologist Dale Alan Pfeiffer writes, “Until community gardens are recognized as vital to community health and are protected by law, they will remain vulnerable whenever the government or some powerful investor wishes to appropriate the land.”

We have a few community gardens around Nanaimo. With more demand from the voting, taxpaying public, we could have comprehensive programs instead of just pilot projects and demonstrations.

With more school gardens, supported instead of, as sometimes happens, destroyed by district maintenance staff, we could have generations of children growing up as capable as their great-grandparents at feeding themselves healthy food.

Michael Welbank, past president of Britain’s Royal Town Planning Institute asks, “How can we possibly take any new land for development and claim we have discharged our responsibilities to future generations? It is a finite resource and however little each generation uses, in time it will all be used.”

And, “We need a greater effort to ensure the reuse of previously developed land as a continuous process until we reach the stage where new land is never taken.”

It’s not a question of choosing between personal action or advocacy for policy change – we need both, and soon.

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