Collective nourishment

Chris Harris

Chris Harris / January 08, 2022

3 min read

Our search for convenient nourishment can be well served by community activism and can be insidiously pacified when left to the mechanistic market.

A private equity firm in the U.S.A. recently bought a large, leading English supermarket Morrisons. How can a private equity firm be expected to prioritise the health of planet and the well-being of the public?

Supermarket eating habits feel stranger and stranger to me - The plastic wrap, the distant travel, the secretive waste, the paradox of choice between values pre-selected values, the necessary consumer ignorance in farm and farmer practices, house brands squeezing out other suppliers...

The future of a more just relationship with food, farmers, and forests does seem to include CSAs (Community Solidarity Agriculture). Where customers subscribe to share in the ups and downs of a harvest.

Certainly less convenient as a single person. What do you do with a kilo of lettuce? Who to collect your veg while your away for two weeks? Who has good recipes for parsnips? What do you do with food which you haven't been able to enjoy?

Local Food Cooperatives are another supplementary option for sundries. A group of the public sharing the work and coordination involved to order and distribute food that honours their values. Swapping the convenient on-demand abundance of the supermarket for the sovereign moral agency of local collectives - it's a lot of work, especially for individuals.

Individually, the average day-to-day concerns are enough without the continuous minutia of food ethics. We accept a blind eye for convenient, pacified, abundance.

I know I do. I often accept it as just another necessary conflicting belief and go about my business, sorely hoping someone will solve for moral convenience.

Often, it weighs heavily on my relationship to embodied, planetary reality. That lack of connection and meaning needs to be filled with other metaversal abstractions.

The best experiences of convenience, moral agency, and nourishment I've had were at retreats when a large group comes together to take turns at cooking. This is a time consuming, but conversation in the kitchen and hands on the vegetables is a rewarding pastime. It's a similar situation in activist camps, festivals, and soup kitchens.

I wonder what neighbour-hood scale, continuous versions of these temporary autonomous nourishment zones might operate like?

Whether we should or not, we might not always have the time to do equal shifts in a kitchen. There does still seem to be a gap in the middle of satisfyingly laborious activism and abundant disconnected transaction.

Soup kitchen clubs are the future.


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