Several weeks ago I endeavoured my first #fastfortheclimate, thoughts on which I’d written here.  I’ve been meaning to reflect a little. Yesterday began the UN Climate Summit, a major effort to galvanize government action in a real way, and one wants, with all one’s heart, to retain some hope.  Hope for what?  That if we’ve already lost the best future, we can at least avert the worst one.  “Hope and fear in equal measure” — an appropriate existential response — as Naomi Klein is quoted as saying.

The power of seeing hundreds of thousands of people putting their bodies in a march for Climate Action this past Sunday gave a surge of energy to our committment.  Not just in NYC and London, but in towns and cities around the world.  (My daughter and I went to a relatively small gathering in Birmingham.)  Everyone and everything matters.  Our small efforts and our big ones, because they are interrelated: the small ones give sincerity to the big ones, the big ones make the small ones not insignificant.  Huge systemic changes need to take place, in how we produce and consume and use resources and relate to “nature” and of course, to each other.  Most clearly of all, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and drastically burn less and less as we figure out, with great alacrity, other alternatives.

If only that could be the intent resolve of all international gatherings. STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!  LEAVE THEM IN THE GROUND!

As I wrote in that first #fastfortheclimate post, there’s also a way that bringing issues to an intimate personal level, and sharing the experience with others doing the same, is personally nurturing, empowering, and actually quite interesting.

The day of that first fast was challenging because my son and I visited a friend whose plum trees were dropping fruit, which we’d come to pick up from the ground; there was I, struggling not to taste this luscious ripe fruit.  I think I guiltily ate two plums, which was a feat of moderation really. I continued trying to fast with the awareness that I took on the fast to learn, not to achieve something, rather simply to give myself an opportunity to reflect on whatever came up.  As the day wore on, I had food to prepare for family and for a workshop, and being in the midst of things it was really hard to remain… steadfast.  I did nibble on this or that, a spoonful of soup to see if the salt was correct, a crust a child left on a plate, that kind of thing.

What I noted above all was that I didn’t really feel hungry in any profound sense.  The small amounts of food satiated any bodily request for attention from hunger.  I found myself reflecting on how much more so many of us have than we actually need, and how in all the delighting around food culture we foodies take, there’s an undertow of excess. I am not a growing child, how much food do I really need for healthy sustenance? Probably a relatively meager amount.

Yet so many people around the world don’t ever NOT feel hungry; instead they experience a constant gnawing.  (This is a blog I found really interesting for its effort to experience “hunger solidarity.”)

In that sense, our food consumption is much like our consumption patterns in general– so many of us just used to too much, a constant overconsumption, in what we imagine as “need.”   We “need” new clothes, we “need” things,  we “need” all the energy which, when derived from fossil fuels, is actively making our world unlivable.  Our excess need, in the context in which so many true needs are unmet for so many people, speaks to that old phrase “Live simply that others may simply live.”  There are so many interpretations of how this phrase has become literal.  There’s definitely a Climate Justice component in there as well.

I also began to wonder whether when we talk about “food security” (not always a neutral, un-ideological term, as someday I’ll discuss) in the North — when in fact so many families are food insecure — do we imagine a food culture that itself is excessive (such as my family might eat– you know, extras and desserts and way more than the nourishing core) — and can we, and I as a food educator, offer a vision that re-values simplicity and just enough-ness, a sufficiency?  I know this isn’t an aesthetic vision that necessarily has mass-appeal, in the age of all-you-can-eat buffets and excessive food wastage– let alone us food bloggers slathering wild-green pestos on our sourdough toasts…

These were the kind of thoughts that emerged from having “cheated” on my #fastfortheclimate.

I continue to hope and will try to persuade other Food Bloggers and Foodies to join me in these fasts.  I was greatly privileged once, in the late 80s, to hear the profound Quaker activist Elise Boulding speak about civic networks; maybe it was an off-hand point she’d made, but what I remember her saying is that our ordinary networks could be powerful channels for change.  Whatever your networks, feel your personal power within them.  Even if it’s a food blog.  Maybe regarding food and climate change, especially if it’s a food blog.