Yesterday I attended the Transition Pacific Northwest Convergence with my day’s 10 mile food in tow to survive for 15 hours out of my eensy beensy micro bioregion. Chris Wolfe of Transition Whatcom County took on to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for all 60 of us, even though she’d never cooked for more than 9 people. She cooked for days, slept little and served it all with such radiance and humility that the food itself gleamed.
She had personally looked in the eye of almost every farmer and producer for the fare she offered – greens, beets, soups, granola, apples, eggs, cornbread, berries. What wasn’t a direct buy was bought from local organic grocers. Chocolate, almond milk, lentils. It was as local as she could get and given she was feeding 60, it was two person months of 100-mile eating with a couple of exotics.
But it wasn’t “my” 10 miles. Not a Langley, WA 10-miles. I’ve already figured out that when I travel I can eat within 10 miles of wherever I am, but Chris’s loving food was outside even that radius of S Seattle Community College. So be it. I could love her and even her food without eating it – and keep my word.
Before dinner she announced that there was plenty for everyone and if people who hadn’t paid wanted to eat, they were welcome to do so. They could contribute to offset her costs, but that wasn’t required (it wasn’t clear if she would break-even financially even though she had broken-even spiritually by a long shot.)
So there I was. One apple, two carrots, 3 green beans left. Hunger didn’t drive what I did next. It was the realization that I could say yes to her local loving and yes to her local purchases made with such integrity – and no to rigidity of mind which could slide me over into ideology and holier-than-thou. Even with a commitment to values, there are higher values that should always trump that. And giving and receiving love is one of them.
So I put a donation in the pot and ate a beautiful spinach salad, without going overboard and eating the chocolate and lentils, things clearly not from our region.
I used to be a borderline missionary. You can now say “Hi, Vicki” as if we were in an anonymous meeting. There was a right way of doing things (i.e. reducing consumption) and my task was to be sweet and funny and convincing enough to make you do it. Despite the fact that I was right (wink) the blowback of that stance was that I judged myself as harshly as I secretly judged others. I was protesting pollution while polluting the air with my holier than, if not thou, them attitude. I had no space to grow, change, learn more, experiment and fail. Not direct causation… but I did develop a cancer in my gut and one aspect of the healing was letting go of those prisons of my own rightness.
We are in overshoot – yes. We consume in North America more than is fair, just or necessary – yes. There are truly dire consequences of these choices – yes. But my indignation and rigidity were not making a different way of consuming any more compelling.
Just a spoonful of humor and humility makes the medicine go down a lot more smoothly.
I felt very satisfied as I dozed on the ride home to Whidbey while my friends chatted away in the front seat about the great day we had.