THERE HAS NEVER BEEN a stronger case for why having a robust local economy is what will ensure our better collective future. The part of British Columbia that was affected by wildfires and incessant, killer heat this past summer is suffering from severe flooding right now.
The rainstorm that ravaged the Southern Interior and the communities around Lower Mainland over the weekend, ripped apart highways and caused mudslides. Hundreds were stranded, and sadly, some lost their lives.
One of the consequences of extreme weather events is, unfortunately, the hoarding of food and other necessities, such as bottled water and toilet paper. People rush to grocery stores and strip them bare of most items.
Long lineups and carts overflowing with perishable foods are not just an eye sore but a consciousness one too. Here’s why:
- There are many healthy food choices that do not involve the most perishable items and in many, if not most cases, they may just be more nutritious and healthier too. More sustainable for sure.
- Loading up on foods that will spoil in a few days is a waste of money, but most importantly, food. That is, at a time when sharing with others is what’s expected.
- Many people in the community are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for the resources at the grocery stores due to mobility issues, life situations or not having the space to store any extras (I am not talking about excessive amounts associated with hoarding).
Past the madness that drives people to hoard and consequently waste food, I would hope to see that somehow, we would come to realize a few things: first, that food is precious, and we should never waste any. According to the latest, more than half of the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. That’s simply indecent.
Second, that though the majority of people head to the grocery stores year-round expecting fresh produce no matter the season, eating locally and in season is the way to go. Local farmers and other local businesses can make this happen. Depending on food that is transported from hundreds of miles away is an expensive way to eat and it also generates a lot of greenhouse gases too.
Third, learning to eat in ways that favour local economies and learning (going back) to depending more on local resources and less on global ones may not agree with the lavishness many associate with the western lifestyle or, as it happens, with the upcoming Christmas shopping extravaganza. However, that’s what we need to do if we are to alter, even ever so slightly, the self-destructive path we are on. Less is more.
The Wednesday edition of one of the local newspapers came without any flyers today due to the non-existent highway traffic between Kamloops and the Lower Mainland as of Tuesday. Local grocery stores got the spotlight instead. Sustainable, local, and in season, all the good labels that should be attached to the food we buy. Or grow and preserve when possible.
I am a big supporter of our farmer’s market, and I wrote on more than occasion about the many benefits of having a vibrant one like we do. I have also repeatedly made the case as to why the local economy is vital, and more so when disasters hit (I typed it as ‘disaster’ initially which we no longer have the luxury to say, so plural it is).
Sure, some food items will be missing when not in season, should we choose to favour local, but we will have what we need regardless of highways being washed out. With awareness and a ‘less is more’ mindset we come to waste less. Which we need to recognize and act on.
If we are to see a better future, we ought to become mindful of resources and mindful of our consuming habits, which are, for the most part, out of hand.
When the pandemic slowed down the global economy and disrupted supply chains, there were lessons to be learned. And yet, for the most part, we have returned to the pre-pandemic mentality. Buy, buy more, buy according to wants and in case of disruptions, take as much as you can without any consideration for the community and the waste you might be generating in the process.
Hoarding is fed by fear, and it leads to people acting their worst at a time when acting one’s best is needed.
There are, however, stories of people doing just that and it gives reason to hope: small local businesses and community groups are prepping thousands of meals for those who are stranded in or near Hope, and there are people opening their homes to strangers who need food and warmth. Yes, many go above and beyond with providing help, comfort, and hope. We need as much of that as possible.
We are all concerned about our collective future, and yet, securing one’s safety (seemingly) through hoarding and locking up resources is but a fool’s errand, and a selfish one at that. It’s when people and communities stand together that they get through disasters and manage to rebuild themselves rather than when they act out of fear with lack of concern for those around them.
There has never been a more urgent time to prove to ourselves that we can do just that.