Is it stating the obvious to say it’s exceptionally hard, as an individual, to take action against climate change, the nature crises, not to mention a disintegrating food system?
Well, I’m saying it. Living in and working as a reporter in the chaos of London, what feels like the nexus of consumerism, people don’t *seem* to care about these issues, or rather people don’t have the time to care. In this environment, surrounded by people with different priorities and worries, and where every minute seems jam packed, I sometimes notice a growing ambivalence in my own actions and purchases, and the impacts they have.
Whether it’s buying chicken that I suspect is from dubious sources, to not sorting the recycling properly, I justify myself:
“It’s so structural, no one person’s actions can make a difference.”
Or: “When no one else seems to care, why should I bother?”
I feel like I’m a small island in an ocean of inaction at times. Maybe I’m weak willed but I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is down to my environment rather than a statement about myself and my values. Let’s not forget that it’s hard to make any ‘right’ decisions when it comes to food, such is the nature of opaque supply chains and inadequate labelling.
As I look after the Wicked Leeks website and speak to our dynamic reader community in the comments section, I know that this issue also plagues other readers, as Doingmybest and Natz Bartlett commented earlier this year:
“I look around at the people who live near me and they are sublimely uninterested in any notion of sustainability. I find it all very disheartening – I’m not going to abandon my principles just because they are not universally shared, but I do feel sometimes like alone voice crying in the wilderness,” commented Doingmybest, on ‘Can London ever be sustainable?’
“It often feels very lonely trying to do the right thing, surrounded by family and friends who can’t understand why you don’t just get a Tesco delivery,” said NatzBartlett on Why eating in the city can be a minefield.
I wonder how many others feel like this?
The reason I’m becoming more convinced that our environment has a big impact of our motivation, is because I know what it’s like on the other side of the coin. What it’s like when you connect to people with similar values and the pulse of energy that accompanies a good conversation.
I used to sell veg boxes for Riverford at big events, and there was nothing like an encounter with someone who was similarly impassioned about good food and farming. There’s a reason why people say enthusiasm is infectious, it’s like being renewed.
It might sound obvious, but we can’t motivate ourselves all the time. We need each other and community to drive us on, to not only feel that buzz of energy, but to also keep us accountable for our actions.
Likewise, I found myself reporting at an Extinction Rebellion protest in London and speaking to passionate protesters and why they were there. In that collective, there was a feeling that yes, together, we can make a difference.
Similarly, when I got to Devon to see my colleagues at Wicked Leeks and the wider Riverford family, we get into debates about these big issues that we write on, from regenerative farming culture to making real bread more affordable, it leaves me feeling invigorated about the cause. It’s like being plugged in at the mains.
It might sound obvious, but we can’t motivate ourselves all the time. We need each other and community to drive us on, to not only feel that buzz of energy, but to also keep us accountable for our actions. It’s harder to stick to something if you’re only letting down yourself.
Consumerism thrives on making us individuals. Companies make more money and sell more stuff by encouraging us to be different and unique rather than what unites us. Otherwise, we might just realise that actually, we don’t need that to be happy.
As a movement of people who are passionate about food and the positive impact it can have on our environment, society and our health, we need to connect to each other more.
Whether it’s reaching out to other readers on the Wicked Leeks comments section or forming our own networks, it’s good to remember that we can’t do it all by ourselves.