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Corn on the cob cured me

By Cassie Duncan

It’s been a while between blog posts… to be honest I kind of ran out of things to say toward the end 2018. My mojo took a one-way ticket to a tropical island and forgot to tell me where to find it.

Long story short, I got an overwhelming case of “we’re F&%ed, so why bother” and unfortunately there’s no easy cure for that. I’m sure I’m not alone. Working in the environmental field can be both inspiring and desperately, overwhelmingly depleting. Admittedly, it wasn’t just the state of the environment that got me down; it was also the growing levels of public disenchantment, hate and fear.

I read articles about how we must stop obsessing over individual action and focus more on activism and collectivism…. A confronting thought for someone who heads an organisation firmly grounded in the power of the individual.

Maybe it was the 10-year itch (did you know we turn 10 this year!) but I wondered if Sustainable Table, if we, should be aiming ‘higher’, should be doing more, and if so, how?

Suddenly posting on social media seemed fickle and pointless. And on any given day, all these things are indeed true. Social media can lead you down a rabbit hole of endless scroll and no action.

Then one night, just as I was gearing up to bury my head in the sand, my children and I noticed that our backyard corn was ready to harvest. My five-year-old son Luca asked if he could do the honours and carefully detached the corn from its stalk and peeled back the leaves to reveal luscious, bright yellow, slightly imperfect kernels. My often-fussy eater asked if he could take a bite right there and then and proudly announced, “Mum, that’s the yummiest corn I’ve ever tasted”.

It was damn delicious, I’ll give him that, but it was the act of growing and picking it that made it taste that much sweeter.

Over the Christmas break we cooked with greens, sage and basil from the garden and ate Flathead we’d caught ourselves. Luca had given everything a try because he was involved in the process of procuring and preparing it.

On Saturday I took Luca to the bulk food store. He competently grabbed a stool to stand on and refilled three jars of washing powder, filled a jar of sultanas for his sister, asked to try a new cereal and convinced me to fill a jar of honey – not because we really needed it, but because he loves to dip his finger in the jar just before putting the lid back on. A couple walking through the store smiled, saying “look, how cute is that, he’s obviously done this before”.

And you know what?  That’s worth working towards.

These small actions, although not work-related, are very much aligned with the messages of Sustainable Table. In and of themselves they won’t curb runaway climate change or stop people from yelling words of hate at each other. But what they can do is allow us to live a little better and to connect with our community, and with each other.

At a singular level, these actions are nothing more than small-scale personal behaviours. If we all took them, it would be collectivism.

Having said that, it’s true that each of us shouldn’t ignore the bigger picture. Each of us should think about taking larger-scale action too like attending rallies, writing to politicians, signing petitions and engaging their networks in change. We need to force change from the top-down as well as from the ground-up.

Who’s likely to drive this kind of change? I believe the people most likely to lead the charge are the ones who are taking those small individual steps to live a better life. From little seeds grow mighty trees. That’s the essence of Sustainable Table’s work.

So, what’s the take-home message? It’s that WE’RE BACK and ready for a fabulous 2019, full of seasonal food, practical on-the-ground projects and events AND a little big-picture thinking to boot. Thanks for your patience and for following along. Stay tuned, we love having your support.

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