Monday, December 21, 2009

The Wisdom of Enough: Is Sustainability About Knowing When to Stop?

As the holidays rush to a close, it’s a madhouse out there. I know that I will need to go to the mall next week to pick up some much-needed supplies, and I’m dreading the excursion. The noise, the mad dash to pick up last-minute Christmas gifts, the gluttony of chocolate and cheese and cookies and everything else delicious – it will call me as I try not to succumb to its siren sounds.

For respite, I visited The Center for a New American Dream today. The web site is always a calm oasis of buy nothing, buy local, and buy used in the midst of the shopping frenzy. As I debate joining The Compact and buying only used items for least January and February, I need some reassurance and some calm. One of the articles I read today struck a quiet chord. It was on the feeling of enough.

Eating vegetables is one of my four-year-old’s least favourite pastimes these days. I know that will change, and I’m trying not to push the issue. One of the reasons is that I want her to know her body. I want her to develop her own sense of how food can make you feel good and make you feel tired. I also try not to force food on my daughter, because even though she’s only eaten a few bites and I think that she should eat more, I want her to develop a sense of enough.

How many of us have lost touch with our body’s true needs for certain foods? What is enough when it comes to food? Our bodies are primed to crave and store a lot of fat, protein and carbohydrates for the winter season. In lean times, this is a good survival strategy. Just like a bear, we would pack on the pounds so that we could rely on these resources during a long winter with few fruits and vegetables. But now, so much of the food available is full of extra fat, protein, and carbohydrates. We can exist in a state of excess, and we can indulge in calories at the expense of our health and our waistlines. Feasting continues throughout the year as we supersize our meals and focus on fat and protein. This drive sustains the fast food industry, because we seek out fast food when we are hungry right now, and we’re hungry for carbohydrates and fat.

What does enough feel like when it comes to food? This coming year, I will be cultivating the attitude of enough. I will fill myself with fresh fruit and vegetables and then turn to bread, cheese, and meat. By doing this, I will support local farmers and reduce the amount of packaging that is involved in my food choices. I will also be wary of foods that feel like too much – pre-packaged and fast foods that are full of salt and too much fat and protein and focus on creating homemade meals with fresh foods.

What is enough to you, and how is it connected to sustainability?

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