Today’s prompt made me consider how my writing has (hopefully) evolved over time and the best way to demonstrate this is to share one of my first published articles. It looks at something I describe in the article as a critical issue.
But what struck me re-reading it is how critical I am about others. Partly this is because I was writing to a particular brief, I’m trying to be topical and confrontational, but that style doesn’t sit with me comfortably these days. It’s one of the reasons I, by and large, stopped writing these sorts of articles to concentrate on the fiction and the non-fiction that I wanted to write.
Here is the article, I am proud of it as one of my first published works, but slightly ashamed by its pompous, judgemental tone. I’m being critical to myself but also treating myself and others with more compassion these days.
The following article was published in The Vegetarian Society Magazine in their Autumn (2012) edition
WHY don’t more people grow their own food? The answer is simple, laziness and ignorance. The very same laziness and ignorance that is endemic of the attitude that brings you the comment “So if you are a vegetarian, does that mean you can eat fish” or “My friend is a vegetarian but they eat chicken.” “No – I don’t eat fish and your friend is not a vegetarian!” I want to scream in their face but that does not seem polite, so I just nod and smile and give my usual calm explanation that as a rule being a vegetarian tends to preclude people from eating meat. They in turn nod politely but from the glazed look in their eyes you can tell they are not listening and you can tell they do not care.
If people would just take a moment away from their general laziness and tried to correct their ignorance by updating their knowledge, they could actually learn something new, they could learn some basic skills that would enhance their lives and improve the world that we live in. We have such wonderful inventions now, things called televisions and I have even heard of something called the internet? It would take thirty minutes to an hour maximum searching the net to find out what a vegetarian or vegan can eat. Equally you would only need to watch one relevant TV programme or read one chapter in a book to gain an understanding of the basics of growing your own food, so why don’t people take the time to expand their horizons? I will tell you why, they can’t be bothered.
We can all come up with excuses for not doing something worthwhile, “there’s not enough time”, “the kids will be bored” or “I haven’t got enough space” and whilst I agree there are only so many hours in the day, let’s face facts, these excuses are just a cop out and it frustrates me when people aren’t honest enough to admit it.
People can always find time to do what is important and people seem to continually be turning a blind eye to what could be a critical issue in the future, dismissing my views as typical hippy vegetarian sermonising but our planet’s precious natural resources won’t last forever and maybe one day we will face a more ‘living off the land’ type of existence.
Are we ready for that? Do we know where the spade is in the shed? Come to think of it, do we even remember where the shed is? If we had to provide for ourselves tomorrow, what would we do for food, once the cupboard was empty? So perhaps we should learn more about where our food is coming from and take some responsibility.
You may think your house is too small or maybe you feel the kids will not be interested, because “it’s boring”, but as I have already said, these are just poor excuses. I live in a relatively small house yet we grow potatoes on the front drive in an old green waste recycling bag, we have learnt about the correct growing seasons, we grow herbs in the kitchen window, cucumbers in baskets on the fence and tomatoes in grow bags, as well as strawberries, carrots, peppers, shallots and chillies in any convenient space we can find.
And if you have children, it’s surprising how much they get into things if you are enthusiastic – my kids love to come into the garden, and it’s great on a Sunday afternoon to turn the television off and spend time together outside. We share the time planting seeds and they love to hear about what is going to grow and love even more actually digging stuff up ready for dinner. It is immensely satisfying to know it is all grown within the confines of our own home with no reliance on anyone else and we are helping the children to understand exactly where their food comes from.
For me it’s not just about being a vegetarian but about trying to take tiny steps towards reclaiming a relationship and knowledge that our parents and grandparents once possessed but is now quickly fading from our societal consciousness. I could do a lot more but in a small way I have accepted that there is a gap in my knowledge and I am trying to address that rather than burying my head in the sand and making excuses.