I venture into the forest near home in search of something that should be fairly common this time of year. Each time I return home empty handed. I’m so despondent with the situation, yet I continue to head out every few weeks. It’s mid April and I’m yet to find a mushroom for the pot (well thats not technically true, I did pick a basket of the little beauties whilst on Bruny Island). Locally speaking it’s still dry as a dead dingo’s donger. And thats a concern.
It’s been a dry summer, and one of the hottest on records. In fact I can’t remember a summer in recent years that hasn’t set some sort of heat record. The river is down lower than ever, many of the dams are dry, or close to it, and the forest’s gravel roads bellow with dust behind the truck. By now you’d expect a few good dumps of rain with the big storms at the end of summer, but we’ve had bugger all.
The climate is changing, that is a certainty. I know there are non-believers out there, but the science is hardly worth arguing against. Since the industrial revolution the spike has been warming, the oceans and rivers becoming more polluted and our forests dwindling. As a species we’re not slowing down in regards to our use of natural resources. Even as far back as the colonisation of the Americas, we’ve been in plunder mode. At that time Europe had been stripped of timber resources and the new world offered endless supplies of timber, but nothing natural is endless, but it can be managed. We don’t manage our timber resources as well as we could, but it’s one of the greatest renewable resources available. Stick to the simplest of rules. You chop one down you plant another. But we are consuming our resources faster than they can be produced, and in regards to the finite natural resources, we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded gun.
I know most people that read here already give a shit. And in many cases people care more than I do and thus live a life far more extremely sustainably than I do. The problem isn’t with you the reader, the problem is with the people who aren’t reading. The masses. And they make up the majority of the western world. The more I live the simple life where I have to work for my food, the more I become removed from the modern world. This has allowed me to view the modern world as an outsider. I see what people eat, what they put in their shopping carts and I scratch my head. In a very real way, the problems we are having with climate change are directly linked to what people are putting in their shopping carts and ultimately into their digestive system, and it’s killing them twice. Firstly, with health problems. Never before have humans had to deal with such a huge scale of health problems. The likes of morbid obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, all of them are caused by what we eat and our lives that now are far more sedimentary than ever before. The food is killing us off secondly because of the way it’s produced. It’s carbon emissions wrapped up and made palatable. Every bit of food that you buy thats packed in plastic, pre-cooked, snap frozen, has been treated with fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or has had synthetic additives added has a carbon footprint. Every single piece of food. Even the ‘fresh’ food, it’s often travelled thousands of miles.
The processed food is the worst. Lets take a look at a tin of pre-processed chunky soup.
The raw materials, the vegetables at some point have been treated or in contact with synthetic agricultural chemicals. Those chemicals require the use of finite resources to create them, not to mention how harmful they are the the human body and often leave residual in the soil and natural environment.
The raw materials are transported, this requires energy, resulting in carbon emissions.
The raw materials are then cooked and processed, this requires energy, resulting in carbon emissions.
Additives and preservatives are added to the soup. Synthetic chemicals that then enter your digestive system. But surely the person that consumed them has a background in Chemistry so has a full understanding of what they’re consuming.
The processed food is then packed in tin or plastic, either way it’s put into a vessel that will more often than not end up as land fill, not to mention the energy required to make the vessel resulting in yet more emissions.
Then the can is painted with some logo and information convincing you how good it is for you, reminding you of that fresh country soup your great aunty used to make.
The can is then transported to a storage facility (DC – Distribution Centre) where it is selected to go to the supermarket it’s needed.
Off into a truck, driven many miles. Carbon emissions blah blah. This is getting boring now.
The punter, buys the can of soup, it’s popped in a ‘green reusable bag’ even worse than plastic bags and driven to it’s new home.
When the moment is right, the can is opened, the contents tipped into a bowl and it’s popped into a microwave. Energy … yawn.
SO whats wrong with all this?
Well I want my fucking mushrooms! And the climate is all screwed up because of the can of soup and so it been a rainless summer and it’s autumn and still I have no AUTUMN mushrooms. It’s natures way of telling us things are seriously wrong! And it’s all because of that can of soup … well not just one can of soup, all the cans of soup, and the the microwave, the flash car, the big house with all the stuff in it … etc. I hope I’m making sense here. It’s not the literal can of soup, it’s a metaphor for all the things in our western culture that we can live without if we just simplified.
So are we stuffed? Most definitely. Is there something we can do? Most definitely. We can start by growing the veg for the soup in our backyard, and secondly cook the bloody soup from scratch, yourself. If you don’t know how to ask someone to show you. By growing your own vegetables for the soup you’re cutting out heaps of carbon emissions, those as a result of the ag chemical production, chemical transport and application, raw material transport, processing, packaging etc. The next thing to do is live with less, buy second hand, recycle, just be smart about what you consume. It’s not like we all should crawl into caves again, just find some sort of balance in life. Grow your own, buy local and live with less. All makes a difference.
But I fear that it’s more important to watch hours of television and simply zone out like a mindless zombie and not give a shit. That’s the option for most people in the western world. I know that will have people offended and complaining, but that’s the facts. Mark my words, this planet of ours is hurting, and will continue to hurt because we as humans are unstoppable in our hunger for resources. And there isn’t a government in the world, nor a single person that has the power to change the way people live their lives. And so the resource appetite will continue until the air is poisonous, the rivers are beyond repair, our climate is so far from where it should be that food production for the masses will be increasingly hard to keep up with and wars will be fought over clean water and food. The basics of human survival. So why instead don’t we just concern ourselves with those basics (where possible) in our very day life right now?
This is what goes through my mind looking for mushrooms in the forest. Dear God, what have we done to have ourselves in this state where we ‘need’ everything done for us. Why do we have to work for money and not for food for our families. Why? Sometimes I wonder if it would be a good idea to scrap everything and just start all over. Before that happens I’ll pick some veg and make a soup.