Sustainable WNC

The Gateway to Sustainability in Western North Carolina

The End of Summer

It has been a while since I have written anything here. I have been thinking slowly about sustainability, food and my own behavior. I have also been thinking about what it is that I have to add to the discussion, something that might be helpful.

Finally, I have found a few things that I believe are important and are part of the discussion.

A little back tracking - when I moved to the mountains in 1972, having dropped out of Northwestern University. I came here seeking a “back to the land” experience, thinking I would live completely independent of “the grid”, have a small farm, solar house, and spring water to drink - a life of low technology. I thought Small was beautiful. As an individual, I am no closer to that than I was 35 years ago. But as a member of a larger community, I have gotten very close to the ideal that I was seeking.

I say this because there are some key points in that 35 year journey. One of the obvious keys for me, of course, is food. But it was a conversation a week or so ago with a gentleman I just met that put the other keys into focus. This conversation took place near Grant’s Pass, in the Rogue River Valley of southern Oregon. (A place many will recognize as having been considered the safest place to live and survive the fallout of a nuclear war - and the reason this gentleman was living there). Our conversation was exactly about this topic - how to sustain. The point he made was this: “we just have to learn to do with less”.

How do I tie this together into something coherent, into something I care share that makes a difference? What practical conversation can I start that is beneficial? What I realized is that the one thing I do have to offer is how to eat (and as I continue, I prefer the idea ‘how to dine’) and how to cook. I also realized that, along with so many other human activities, the art of eating; the craft of cooking have been disappearing. This simple, daily routine is the very core of my existence, so this is what I have to offer - a conversation of how to approach the routine of garden to kitchen and then to the table.

The other side of the coin is this, for the moment, I have no clear path how to communicate those things that make the act of dining part of a sustainable life, but this ramble is the starting point. I know that thought and practice can reinforce one another, so today, start with the thought that less is more, eat as much that is grown or produced by someone you know (and like) and as it is tomato season have one at every meal.

Most important - enjoy the society of a cultured table, make your next meal a dining experience.

Mark

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