“Mum, the kids at school picked on me for my lunch again”
Kate’s eldest daughter is a smart kid. Probably smarter than most kids in her grade. She’s figured out what is real food and what is processed (fake food). It’s her upbringing you see. She has a mum that cares about what goes in her lunch box. So much so, every weekday morning Kate gets up earlier than everyone else, and while we slumber she and bakes something fresh for the four girls lunches. Lately she’s been baking this thing she calls a flapjack, a muesli slice. The kids keep asking her to make it, it’s a winner.
We’ve heard this story a few times now, how she gets picked on at school for her food. It’s frustrating. Frustrating because it’s our choices (as parents) that have made the contents of a school lunch box a talking point in the school yard. We’ve made the choice to live a particular way based on what we believe, and for that there will always be some sort of reaction from other people. Whether it’s in the school yard, the general store or from the online community. I guess thats why I try to communicate to people that how we live isn’t perfect. All we do is try to live a life that addresses some 2013 issues. I’ve had a good think about it and I wanted to pen it down, even just for my own clarification in a few simple lines.
1. We grow/raise/hunt/forage most of our food in the hope that we’re eating healthier tucker. In the hope that we’re eating food that hasn’t travelled miles to get to us, food that hasn’t come from overseas, food that hasn’t been treated with inorganic juices like pesticide, fertiliser etc. It’s food that’s not packaged, processed or ‘improved’.
2. We live in an old farm house because we like country living. We like the nature stuff. We like the beauty of a rural lifestyle, the peace and quiet.
There are consequences associated with these choices. Firstly the school lunch box criticism. Thats basically a metaphor for how many people, children and adults, look at our food choices. Recently when Kate mentioned we where cooking a wild shot goat for dinner, the very thought of it was poo pooed by another kinder mum. These moments happen with regularity when the subject of food and what we eat gets brought up in conversation, even just when a photo of a meal gets posted online there is often an interesting remark. Then there’s the flack we get for living in a house with a wood heater, or the one where someone complained about me driving a farm pick up, or Kate driving an old holden, or that our dog looks under fed. It’s all part and parcel of being out there, on some form of platform where people are free to have a go at you.
There are two options. To remove oneself from public view and disappear into obscurity. Or secondly, to persevere and continue to share the journey towards the simple life, and accepting a bit of flack along the way. Well I kinda believe in what I’m doing enough to persevere. I’ve never said I’m self sufficient, or sustainable. In fact I go to great lengths during my talks to make it clear that I’m none of these and I believe that no one can truly be 100% self sufficient and sustainability is a buzz word as useful as tits on a bull.
The reality is that for any of us that enjoy heating in winter, cooling in summer, a pillow upon to rest our heads, clothes to cover our naked bodies, a car of any type or even soap to wash our dirty hands, all of these things and pretty well much everything else we come into contact with thats man invented will have some impact on the world in some way shape or form. I guess the idea of my life choice is to minimise that impact where I see applicable. By taking care of my food I reckon takes a big chunk out of my impact. It’s not a perfect system, but surely it’s heading in the right direction to minimise impact?
I know that chopping fire wood using a petrol chainsaw, and loading it in the back of my farm pick up seems to counteract that effort I make with food. Is it a better alternative to my days sitting in traffic for an hour, surrounded by thousands of other cars all doing the same thing, to and from work each day? Is it better to burn wood, a renewable resource instead of the finite natural gas to heat the house? Are my reduced country miles better than city driving? I don’t have the answers for that. But I do know that it makes sense, living on a farm property, to drive a ute. If I lived in an apartment in a large city and I drove it to work in heavy traffic I guess that wouldn’t make sense. But I find it useful to collect things for my garden, to pick up feed for my chooks, materials to build things. See, now I’m trying to justify my choices, when I should just do it, just continue doing what I do regardless of the poop that might get flung my direction. Sometimes we can lose faith in the choices we make. We can become weak in our resolve. But I say, fight on. Do what you believe in. Do whats applicable and ignore the naysayers.
It’s ok, I can handle it. It’s not really a bother. It’s not a bother because I believe in my life choices so much that outside opinions don’t count. But how does a nine year old deal with it? Kids can be cruel, and I feel defensive on the darling little girls behalf. Then again I figure she’s got to learn to fight her own battles. It’s not easy for her, and we (Kate and I) do feel responsible for the contents of her lunch box and the trouble they cause her. But hopefully when she’s older, it will drive her to do something amazing because she had to grow up a little harder, a lighter tougher with a hardy resolve. All we can do it hope for the best.
Putting aside phycological challenges I have to deal with a more pressing issue at hand. My choice to grow my own food has been challenging in a very real world manner of late. Pests have been eating my veg. Heaps of it. I thought I fenced the patch well protecting it against rabbits. But still my plants are being hammered. I can’t spot any rabbit poo, which makes me think it’s either a possum or rats. For now I’ve netted everything, hopefully the plants will recover and we’ll have food in spring.