On the drive back to Woolman after six long days of non-stop thinking and learning about along with discussion of food related issues, I was feeling a lot of different emotions- especially conflicted. We heard a lot of different viewpoints on a lot of different topics and I no longer felt confident about my previously strong stance on GMOs, local and organic foods, our current food system in general, or various other topics and ideas.
The realization that I eventually came to is that all of those things have very positive and negative aspects. It is my job as a consumer to sort through all of the issues and decide for myself what is most important. This is not by any means a new idea to me, but one with newly heightened importance. This was subtly introduced by our tour guide, James, at the Regenerative Design Institute (RDI). James was a very profound and well-spoken man that I believe taught me more the morning that we spent at his organization then I learned during the whole week. However, even more than hearing him speak; I absorbed knowledge through seeing everything happening at RDI. It wasn’t just the questions he asked that provoked thought, but it was seeing the aquaponics system in the greenhouse and all of the natural buildings around the property.
Looking back, this experience clarified for me what I had been most struggling with. It showed me that my views on food (or anything, really) don’t need to be all or nothing. I can be anti-GMO for the most part while still understanding that there can be some benefits. It is okay to say that while I will stick to mostly local and organic foods, it isn’t a possibility for everyone right now. I believe our food system needs radical reform, but that doesn’t mean I have to completely boycott it and rely solely on my backyard garden for food. Everyone on this planet is consuming and there is no correct way. What works for some certainly won’t work for others and the resources that one person has available to them is not necessarily the same for everyone else.
As James told us, it all begins with simplifying your lifestyle and taking out things that you know you do not need. The simpler you live, the simpler you think, and the clearer your thoughts will be. Overall, my thoughts shifted over the course of the Food Intensive. All of my previous overarching positions on big topics remain the same, but I have certainly gathered a new way of thinking about them.