“Sometimes people fret, as they work to change the world, that they are hypocrites. They work for local food but sometimes eat canned food. They work to stop climate change but burn fossil fuels to heat their house.
That is as it has to be.
Don’t be frightened of your inconsistency. Celebrate it. Inconsistency is a positive sign that you have begun to change.”
The quote above is one from the Facebook page of Colin Beaven, also known as the “No Impact Man”. In 2009, he and his wife and young daughter spent a year trying to transition to a life of no negative impact on the environment. In New York City. His wife was a writer for a weekly business magazine. He had written a few history books. They were both politically liberal, but Colin constantly felt guilty, believing he was not living according to his beliefs. After the publication of his “No Impact Man” book and documentary, he now runs the No Impact Project from New York City, helping families and communities around the world attempt to live environmentally net-positive lives.
He posted the above comment on Tuesday, and it really spoke to me. I have been working in the Grow Appalachia main offices for almost a month now. I have gardened, sold produce at the Berea Farmers Market, and written grants for local food promotion programs. I have been so busy in my professional life, that in my personal life there have been little-to-no changes that have fit the ideals of Grow Appalachia. Sure, I had turnips in my fridge for a while, but now they are all gone. In the meantime I have been too busy, or I have felt too busy, to go grocery shopping at local shops or stands. During my lunch hour at work, I often patronize fast food establishments. And if I feel hungry during the evening or night, I call for pizza or walk to the nearby gas station. I am living in a self-imposed food desert out of convenience. Needless to say, many times I have felt like a hypocrite.
But as Colin pointed out, that can be okay. Sometimes if you are feeling conflicted, well, at least you are feeling conflicted. It means you know changes need to be made. So this morning before work I did something that also does not fit into the Grow Appalachia ideology, but is, I think, a step in the right direction. I bought groceries from Wal-Mart. I know, I know. It’s not local, and some of it is not as healthy as locally-grown food often is. But I have sandwich materials for lunch, and breakfast foods, and options beyond patronizing gas stations and convenience stores. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
Next week, I will work on my time management, so that I can make sure I make it to the Berea Farmers Market on Tuesday. I will check the hours for the local Berea College Farm Store, Happy Meadows grocery store, and the local farmers’ stands I see outside the Amish Store. In the meantime, I will work on preparing some of the foods I bought from Wal-Mart, so I can start to know a little better what to do with good food when I have it.
Luckily, the best resource I have right now on how to live a healthier, local lifestyle is this very blog. I have read and saved entries on composting, starting and maintaining home gardens, and interesting programs started in school programs to educate young children. One of these projects encouraged children to eat two new foods a week. That sounds simple enough (and it probably is at the beginning), so I began that project for myself this morning when grocery shopping.
So I will continue to grow, slowly, like plants often do. And if you are better off than me already, than feel good about yourself. And if you aren’t, don’t feel bad about yourself, either. We’re all trying to move in the right direction, and that’s what counts.