Sunday, 19 September 2010

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Living Life in the Landfill?

I was originally going to write about food today, but in thinking about it, this also applies to much of life: when we put garbage in, we can expect to get garbage out.

When we make a habit of putting processed junk food into our bodies, we shouldn't be surprised to find that our health deteriorates. We become lethargic, depressed, and are at a greater risk for disease. Our immune systems, along with all of our other systems, become overtaxed. The environment suffers too, from "convenience-sized" over-packaging, mono-culture produce grown in dead soil laced with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and transportation of goods over thousands of kilometres.

We know this, and yet by the evidence of what our grocery stores keep in stock, it seems the message is lost in the name of, well, in the name of what exactly?

Convenience? Marketing? Habit? Lack of skills in planning and cooking meals?

Although I must admit that we do "shop from the centre of the store" from time to time, the majority of our family's meals are cooked from fresh produce and "whole foods" (foods with only one ingredient listed on the package, if in fact, there even is a package). I am not an overly domestic person. I even opted out of home economics (yeah, I'm old enough to have had that option) in school. And yet I find I am able to cook a decent meal with little effort. My family all take turns cooking as well, including the kids from the time they could measure flour into a cup. Cooking a decent, balanced meal can take as little as 10-20 minutes, especially if everyone helps a little. Frozen lasagna takes longer to heat, even in the microwave. Veggies are healthiest when eaten raw. If you don't like cutting up veggies, you can buy frozen ones every now and then and toss them into a soup or casserole. Barley, rice, and other grains can take a little longer to cook (up to 45 minutes), but if you cook two meals worth at a time and refrigerate the rest, the next meal will take little time at all.

Surely if our family can do this, so can others!

Garbage in, garbage out doesn't only apply to food, but to everything we do. The more effort and enthusiasm put into a project, the better the outcome is likely to be. Sometimes you need to look beyond the immediate for motivation. This is a skill we seem to be losing as a society. So many of us are concerned with only "now" and the short term that we sell ourselves short of accomplishing what we are truly capable of.

Living in the moment is a great idea and something that we need to remember; it does not mean sacrificing quality for immediate convenience, but rather in enjoying all of the steps along the way. Savouring the actual work involved in a project we believe in and taking pride in doing our best, allowing ourselves to take risks to push our own limits and see what we are truly capable of--these are what is meant by the phrase "living in the moment". If we allow ourselves to take the easy way out, and make this our habit, we cheat ourselves of personal growth and accomplishment. We become stagnant and unfulfilled. Procrastinating steps that are difficult only serves to make them more difficult when we do get to them, or if we manage to completely avoid them, robs us of the chance to accomplish, grow and learn.

We have one life here, one chance to live. Let's live it beyond the landfill.