"It may be absurd to believe that a primitive culture in the Himalaya has anything to teach our industrialized society. But our search for a future that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have never abandoned." (Helena Norberg-Hodge)
It's this quote that opens a chapter in Three Cups of Tea, the best-selling novel published a few years ago, that I just got my hands on this week.
Today was the second monthly pick-up of our meat CSA from Applecheek Farm. Last month we went through the share pretty quickly it seems - holding a dinner party to celebrate, and another (The T-Bones on the grill alongside raddichio) to soothe a relationship. This month, perhaps we'll get to do the same, though it goes more quickly that way.
Jamie went by the Bluebird Tavern to pick it up from Rocio, farm John's wife, who does the delivery. She is the sweetest woman, and I was sure she wouldn't give him a hard time even thought he meat was labeled with my name. She didn't, and Jamie came home later, happy that he had been more involved. He talked about the experience with rapture, though it was only a few moments. Something like "Why is it so special that we go and pick up our meat from them? I bet this is still a big part of her culture where she grew up!" (Rocio is from Ecuador. Even so, we're speculating.) And I said, "Well, it was a part of our culture only a few generations ago." I think this is true...haha.
In Italy I got another taste of this - it seems like a lot of European cities and towns still center around artisans. The tailor, electrician, cobbler and butcher are still lucrative occupations, and necessary neighbors. I am not sure if the butcher raises the meat himself...not likely since he's probably pretty busy, but I bet he's still good friend's with that farmer. His livelihood depends on the quality of his product and service.
The average current way of living is far from this. Most of us know that now, since stuff like this is a normal discussion around the (Vermont?) dinner table. Here in Vermont, both farmers/producers and consumers are turning away from this model. I wonder what it will do long term? Will Price Chopper no longer be open 24 hours? These small farmer's may have to struggle to stay small, because what we have right now could not feed the whole state...more people would have to take on this as a profession OR at least on a small, personal scale to feed themselves and their families. Modernity must meet practicality and not only 'get back to nature' but go back to what has been ingrained as natural to us for thousands of years. Self-sufficiency and independence with an emphasis on community.
Self-sufficiency - or being a successful farmer - requires skills, and skills are attained through practice. Our lives may have to slow down a tad. This does not mean we can not multi-task. The new future can pick and choose the best from both ways of life - solar panels, modern (or ancient/successful/herbal) medicine and the internet, with the old connection to the rhythms of the natural world.
Who's got ideas?