The 3 Best Things You Can Do For America

4th of July

Do you love this land we call America? Is it the purple mountains, the mystery of deserts, the peace of pastoral meadows or the shining seas that you love? Is it the diversity of peoples, each adding an unforgettable ingredient to the melting pot? Is it the formative ideals of freedom and equality that we continue to work towards achieving, generation after generation? Or, is it simply because this is home – the place you grew up, the place your family and loved ones are?

America has often been referred to as the great experiment, and these days, Americans are beginning to gain a new vantage point on our past – not just the past 233 years of nationhood, but the long past of millions of years of ecological existence on this glorious piece of land we call America.

The 4th of July is an excellent day to face the truth that America is suffering from some very real troubles. It’s a good day because the 4th of July is the celebration of a victory in adversity. The power to triumph over bad circumstances is in all of our blood.

I love this place on our blue planet, and today, I’d like to share with you my list of the 3 best things you can do to help America change directions and begin its graceful ascent to a sustainable, healthy future.

Grow your own food

Action 1 – Grow Your Own Food
Did you know that in the 1940′s, America’s victory gardens produced 40% of the produce we ate? 40%! Don’t buy into the industry-driven hogwash that states we would starve without factory-farmed, pesticide-dependent monoculture. Take back the skills that were the prize possession of the majority of mankind – the ability to grow the food we need to survive. Our forebears did it and so can we. We are gifted with an abundance of arable land in this country and it can supply more food than we’d know what to do with.

Hard to believe? When sanctions cut Cuba off from the rest of the world, they were forced to rapidly transition from sugar cane monoculture to bio-diverse farming that could feed the country. With a few simple steps, Cuba’s urban gardens, alone, began producing eight thousand tons of food. And that’s just what the city folks were able to do on their rooftops, balconies and in their small backyards. In fact, Cuba’s ministry of agriculture tore up its own lawn and planted it with vegetables! With our great cities and vast farmlands, we can’t fail to feed America with incredible bounty if we all start planting heirloom seeds in whatever space we’ve got.

By growing your own, you will become more human than you’ve ever been before, with the power to sustain the most basic need of your life – to eat. And, you will be eating the best tasting, most nutritious food you’ve ever eaten in your life. Last night, I took a sack of new potatoes to my parents. We all sat down together and ate them with a little olive oil, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. We ate in wonder at the taste and gratitude for the bounty. If you’ve never eaten just-picked produce before, your first taste of something you grew yourself will change your perception of life. No less than that. I guarantee it.

Find A Farmer

Action 2 – Find A Farmer

If you simply can’t grow your own food, or if you can only grow some but not enough to provide a whole year’s supply of food for yourself and your family, find the farmers nearest you.

Eating organic, locally-grown food is the most powerful step you can take in your daily life to reduce fossil fuel pollution and combat global warming. Obviously, the most local food you can eat comes from your own yard, but the next best thing is food that comes from your neighbor’s yard.

Make the nearest farmer’s market your weekly shopping trip destination, use the web to search for the nearest farm stores that are open to the public and consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). With a CSA, even city folks can buy ‘shares’ in a network of local farms. For very reasonable prices, the farmers will deliver to your door a box of local, organic produce every week of the year, and CSAs protect the livelihood of farmers in that, if one of them experiences a crop failure, he is still sure of being paid for his labor and you are still sure of receiving great food from the other farmers in the network.

Until the globalization of the food ‘system’, nearly all food people ate was organic and local. Reclaiming these time-honored givens isn’t something outlandish – it’s adhering to traditions that worked for all past generations of Americans. Eating local food makes sense and empowers you to help build a strong, self-sufficient community to live within, wherever you live. In America, we’ve got all of the resources we need right here to succeed in a shift towards a locally-based food economy. The day that small, local grain mills begin re-opening in your hometown will be a day worthy of fireworks in the USA.

learn to cook

Action 3 – Learn To Cook
Countless books have now been published on how our descent into a diet of highly processed, pre-prepared foods has made us one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. Our parents and grandparents took the poisoned bait of convenience when they started opening boxes and cans to make dinner rather than stepping into the yard to fetch it fresh and get it cooking on the stove. In addition to having lost the skills required to make food grow out of the earth, we, as a nation, have lost the skills required to prepare that food. We don’t know how to cook anymore. Such a thing hasn’t happened to the human race since we first found fire!

If you’ve slid into the commercially-marketed belief that no one has time to cook, then you’ve traded authority over your own life for something of no value to anyone but the makers of such convincing corporate messages. You can create a balanced, delicious meal from scratch in less than an hour and don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right or time to do this for yourself. Time to cook food is as essential a human right as time to sleep and the deprivation of either makes us stressed and sick. Empower yourself by taking back the authority to feed yourself and feed others. You can do this!

Do It For America
Grow your own, find a farmer, cook your own food – these simple yet revolutionary actions are all about re-claiming the skills that every one of your ancestors had but that you have lost in the present age. The nation of America was founded on revolution. We are a determined and creative people with the audacity to hope for a better future. I am convinced to the soles of my feet that the better future lies in our soil and in our hands.

Happy 4th of July!

7 Responses to “The 3 Best Things You Can Do For America”

  1. on 03 Jul 2009 at 5:01 pm Lori

    Brilliant post, Miriam! I can see the positive way my kids respond to gardening – it’s science, health, nutrition, and fun all in one activity.

    If we can help children appreciated freshly-grown food and teach them how to cook, we can reverse the “packaged food” epidemic that previous generations pushed upon us.

    A wonderful 4th of July to you!

  2. on 04 Jul 2009 at 6:38 am Happy July 4th

    [...] I really like this article by Miriam Solas: The 3 Best Things You Can Do For America. [...]

  3. on 04 Jul 2009 at 12:36 pm admin

    Hi Lori -
    It’s just wonderful to know that you’re in your garden with your children, and I also feel very delighted when I see all the little babies and children being toted along to farmers markets and farm stores each week. I was lucky enough to grow up a couple of blocks away from a great farmers market and learned from my mother that the best food was local food. We got to know the farmers and experience the joyful anticipation of awaiting their seasonal produce. I’m sure this simple activity was very formative for me and I know your time in the garden will be a lifelong blessing for your children. What a great thing!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this article. Happy 4th of July to you, Lori!
    Miriam

  4. on 08 Jul 2009 at 12:31 pm Harriet

    Absolutely right! It is a simple but powerful plan.

    We moved from the city nearly 20 years ago and learned how smart farmers really are.

    No garden this year for us–we are going to our local farmer’s markets.

    Cilantro is growing in a little pot on a sunny window sill!
    Harriet

  5. on 08 Jul 2009 at 1:07 pm admin

    Greetings, Harriet!
    It’s a real pleasure to see you here, and I can almost taste that cilantro growing on your window sill.

    I agree completely that farmers are the smart ones. So many Americans have never even had the chance to meet a farmer, and that’s why I’m so excited about the farm markets, farm stores and CSAs. It’s a chance for people to really get to know the men and women who grow their food. Important stuff!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.
    Miriam

  6. on 08 Jul 2009 at 8:57 pm jennifer

    Miriam,

    I feel deep down like you’re right in everything you said in this post…but I also really do feel I do not have the time, knowledge or time to gain this knowledge. I have a nearly two year old son and a 14 year old sister-in-law. I work so hard just to make sure my son gets his fruits and vegetables. I know that what we eat is so important and I want it to be healthy but between my husband (saying we eat healthy enough), the extragavant healthy recipes and my constant feeling of being busy I just don’t know how to achieve this freedom you speak of.

  7. on 09 Jul 2009 at 12:31 pm admin

    Welcome to the SEOigloo, Jennifer!

    I truly understand just how busy modern people’s lives are. To back that up with sincerity, let me tell you that I’m running a company and running a small farm simultaneously. There seldom seem to be enough hours in the day! I believe that all this hard work that I do (and that you are doing) should amount to something beyond simply more work. I believe it should amount to the right to take care of myself and my family – to cook for them and have the time to eat. Maybe your husband could see this in this light? What is all the work for if one is not entitled, by dint of it, to take the time to eat well?

    Many families are rearranging their lives in modern times so that they can have the time to live as well as to work. Sometimes this means moving to a more affordable place on the map, finding a way to work from home or finding new employment that ensures that at least one family member is at home part of the day to cook or tend the garden. It can be done.

    The equation that it might be helpful for you and your husband to examine together is the dubious idea of experts. Most Americans’ lives are based upon the principle that one has to pay experts to do the majority of life’s tasks…pay the teacher to educate the children, pay the food processing plant to make the tomato sauce, pay the restaurant to cook the meal, pay the sweat shop to make the clothing, pay the mechanic to fix the car.

    This has created a nation where most of us only have a single skill (web design, teaching, retail, counseling, etc.) and, unfortunately, this means that few Americans know how to take care of themselves without paying other people to do it for them. All of those hours of work we put in don’t amass survival skills for us…they simply enable us to keep paying the experts.

    By contrast, hours spent learning to cook, farm, sew, teach children, build a website, etc., have the reward of skills that you then posses for a lifetime. It’s an investment that has a sustainable reward.

    I decided at some point that I wanted to be the main expert in my life and while there are some things I will likely always leave to other experts, it became clear to me that by learning to do things for myself with confidence, I would find a life beyond the workaday world that seems to run in an endless circle of performing a single skill, day after day, in order to pay others, year after year, for performing their single skill.

    Now, it may not be right for you and your husband to quit your jobs, buy land in Arkansas, homeschool your kids and start growing all your own food. That would be an awfully huge change. But, you can begin working with this idea of getting more real about the expert chain.

    If you can’t grow your own food right now, then consider paying the expert farmer directly for the food he grows locally…rather than buying processed food that travels an average of 13,000 miles to reach your plate. Joining a CSA is not much more expensive than buying from a grocery store and the quality of the food is about 1 million times better.

    And, in terms of cooking that food, start simply. Learn how to make a pot of rice, a pot of beans, a salad, a stir fry. These things are so easy to make and you can add to your personal cookbook over time. Many of the most nutritious foods on the planet only require washing them (raw fruits and veggies).

    I really do hear your wish to find a way to make a change, Jennifer, and believe that it may be most helpful for you, initially, to contemplate that all of your ancestors knew how to gather/produce food and cook that food. All of that knowledge is standing behind you, willing you to succeed as a human who knows how to survive and care for loved ones. The step for you is to find a way to reclaim those skills. Be bold about your right to claim this authority and then see if there are changes you can begin making that make you the #1 expert in your life. I believe you can do it.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment!
    Miriam

Trackback this Post | Feed on comments to this Post

Leave a Reply