“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot
*This Leon Bridges clip has nothing to do with the below, but I can’t get enough of him.
I had the fortune of listening to Mark Bittman and Yvon Chouinard speak in Jackson last week as part of the Shift JH event. The aim of Shift was to spark the conversation around conservation and recreation. Recreating in nature instills a passion to preserve our public lands, and exposing the next generation to the outdoors will help to create the next land stewards. It’s clear that spending time in nature and experiencing the effects of climate change first-hand catalyze us to do good, join the movement, and strive to make change however possible. But the majority of the US population lives in cities; it’s a luxury to travel to National Parks and spend days away from work and school. Our conversation revolved around issues like that above. This thought-provoking experience was inspiring and eye-opening. While I don’t have a set plan, I’ve been thinking about the small things I can do to make a difference.
Mark Bittman is one of my favorite New York Times oped columnist (he’s no longer writing for them). The overarching theme to his pieces is that “food has the power to make or break not only our personal health but that of the planet.” Large scale agriculture is a leading cause of climate change. Both he and Yvon Chouinard discussed their frustrations with our food system. In his newest book, “A Bone to Pick,” Bittman outlines some of the problems:
Our fossil fuel- and chemical-dependent system of agriculture robs the land of resources in the name of feeding the world. At least a billion people globally- including many millions of Americans- still go hungry. Animals are mass-produced and effectively tortured, and food system workers don’t have it good, either. The standard American diet- too much meat, sugar, and hyperprocessed junk- is fueling an astronomically expensive epidemic of preventable lifestyle diseases for which we are all paying. And to top it all off, the politicians who hold the most power for positive change are all too often in the pockets of special interest that fight and spend to preserve the status quo.
While the above rant, you could call it, resounds pretty bleak and pessimistic, Bittman said he’s still hopeful. Not optimistic, but hopeful. Bittman made a very encouraging point. He challenged the audience to two tasks. 1. Eat food. 2. Eat mostly plants. Food consists of nourishment that leads to increased health; the definition of food does not include poisonous junk or soda. He challenged the audience to eat more plants next week than they did the previous week. We don’t have to drop everything and dramatically change our lifestyles, but make little changes. Incorporate things like buying produce from local vendors into your life. Buy less meat. Cook…with real food. Because the majority of Americans still don’t cook. Teach your children the importance of eating real food. If you’re a business owner, source products sustainably wherever possible.
But please don’t make your own granola…save the hassle and treat yourself to Born to Crunch.