Aiming for the narrow space between complacency and impotent terror or despair

There is a narrow space between on one side being jolted out of complacency and on the other, impotent terror or despair. And, Kate’s talk at the Impact Hub meeting on ‘Feeding the City’ missed that space. This is sad, because we need to understand what the future could bring.

Small scale social entrepreneurs and activists (of which I am one, and there were many in the audience) operate in that space. Even if 95% of what we do is a waste of effort in terms of the Great Big Challenges that humanity is facing, 5% has some impact (I’ve guessed those figures and none of us knows which 5% is useful until years later).

This band of people, also realise something is deeply wrong with today’s food system, unlike a lot of others. And want to do something useful, that doesn’t harm other people.

There’s a saying if you eat, you’re in. So everyone is involved in the food system, everyday. And whatever each of us does within that system has trade-offs, perhaps most importantly, two sets of trade-offs: those between the short-term versus long-term, and those between individual and collective activities.

And in thinking about the collective and the long-term, we have the word “sustainability”

It’s a word Kate criticised, in my view, mistakenly.

“Sustainability” is indeed a much over-used and mis-used term. Few have more than a hazy idea of what it means; many use it as ‘virtue signalling’ too. But it is a word, the best we have at the moment, to communicate an important concept, arguably crucial to our future.

A final point: The real reasons why people grow and cook food are social interaction, sensory pleasure, exercise, therapy and  loads of other happiness-inducing reasons. Yet, ironically, catering and horticulture are low status, low pay jobs, except for a tiny percentage of stars. So, we have to import people to harvest and cook much of our food.

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