Every now and then I play an interesting game with myself. I deliberately avoid buying more food when we still have enough supplies in the house to make a few more meals. The process conjures creativity but that’s what makes it interesting. That’s where empowerment sprouts.

Seriously though, why do it?

Why not decide on a menu and then shop for ingredients? Spoiler alert: this is not a cooking post; as you will see below, it goes far beyond that. Why cook with whatever available, when available? Because:

  • I am horrified at the amount of food waste generated by the western world (yes, that’s us and a few other countries)
  • It’s fun to create when resources are limited (a subjective opinion) and creativity makes us feel good inside, no matter where we use it
  • It’s healthy and necessary to apply the ‘what if I did not have all that I have’ question to our lifestyle. From food to just about anything. Other questions will pour out: Could I do with less? What is the impact that my food and the things I use have on the natural world? What kind of demand am I creating alongside my fellow humans?

Just because there is no (visible by us yet) crisis does not mean we should not be mindful

We are privileged. I tell this to the boys often; I am reminded all the time. Life is a harsh and cruel journey for many, in many parts of the world and in Canada as well. Abundance should invite us to gratefulness and it should make us aware of what we have, but humans are funny that way. It’s easy to subscribe to thinking there is enough to go around. It’s easy to forget the rainy days when the sun is shining.

And yet.

The frequency of bad news about our world is increasing. Even though most news outlet usually aim to feature the least scary news of all, some things cannot be hidden or denied. Case in point: the recent UN-commissioned report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (a mouthful but you can abbreviate to IPBES) which sounded the alarm on the ‘unprecedented’ decline of the biodiversity of the living world. Meaning over a million species of animals and plants are going towards extinction and natural ecosystems are changing to becoming unsupportive of the wildlife and life in general. It’s one of the starkest yet. You can have a read here.  

That’s scary and it’s about our one world. Human activity has increased to such an extent that it suffocates a lot of the natural world. Three quarters of all land is being used by humans (and not judiciously,) same with two thirds of the ocean and the rest of the habitats. There is no clearer way of putting it: we are living way beyond our means, way beyond our world can sustain.

And yet.

The concept that keeps resurfacing, an opinion of sorts, but expressed by many regular people as well as people in a position of power, is that asking people to live with less is not possible. Someone characterized the request as ‘paralyzing.’ We need to find and implement solutions, they say (the word implement is starting to create craters in my brain!) but why are we stumbling at the ‘living with less’ solution? Better yet, living within our means?

All right, so cooking with what’s at hand can help in what way?

It paints the simplest most helpful picture: you can do with less. Food can be nutritious, tasty and waste is nil. It can be applied to so much more in the day to day life. Less is more.

It prevents or reverses willful ignorance, a perfectly human tendency which is often employed by looking the other way or hoping that things will get themselves sorted out. Nature is resilient we all say. True, but that is not a license for overdoing everything and laying waste on our path. It’s a concept to behold and get inspired by; a concept to work with.

The resources that allow us to grow and raise our food are finite. This is not a scaremongering statement, but a factual one. By that I mean the essentials: clean water, clean air, clean soil. The more we care for them, the more we care about the world around us, the longer we will benefit from them. And I mean that in the pure way of living harmoniously within our environment.

It’s not just food though

It’s everything. Our family has been going through minimizing our possessions. On purpose. My husband and I started it and the boys picked up on it. You keep what matters, you buy less, you pass on whatever you don’t need and others can benefit from. Same reminder applies: Resources are limited. The benefits of minimalism have been stated repeatedly lately: blogs, social media, anywhere you turn someone will pop the word. It’s all true. I recently wrote an article about the concept.

And yet.

We cannot keep making new things and throwing them away and then buy more new ones. The ‘new model of/this year’s updated version of…’ dazzles us but there is dark side: it makes us forget that there is no new version of our planet. If anything, this year’s ‘version’ of our natural world is a lot worse then the ones from previous years.

New environmental conservation laws and regulations are expected and some will come. But hoping they will change everything and put our world back together is unrealistic.

It’s about getting the facts straight and accepting them as they are, because sugar-coating prevents us from realizing the depth of the problems we are facing. We use too many resources for way too much stuff that we throw away which then comes to suffocate us in other ways (yes, landfills are running out of room!).

We have nothing to lose if we live with less and so much to gain

When something hurts, we act on it; is that simple.

Well, the world is hurting. Badly. And we are in it. We are, because of it. Which is why we need to change our ways. Exercising simplicity in any way you can think of is not limiting but empowering.

It creates hope.

We ought to try it. As moral duty, as a way to challenge ourselves, as a way to save ourselves.