Introducing Organic Living
by Lee O'Hara
How long will our current systems be able to keep us alive before the systems themselves kill us?
Populations and societies continue to grow at an accelerating rate. The earth, seemingly, is getting smaller. How many can live here? And what definition do we want to use for the word “live”? Are we talking about live, as in on a life support system? Or are we thinking more in terms of enjoying our lives, our environment and the people who fill it?
There are vast tracts of land still mostly unoccupied on our planet. We don’t want to live there because of hostile environments. What could be a more hostile environment than being confined within a city of millions of people, essentially on life support? Our food is shipped in and rarely fresh. Apparently it has little value in nourishing our bodies. Our clothes are made from synthetic materials that we don’t understand, in countries that we can’t locate without a map. The fumes and ash from the fuel used by our transportation systems destroy our air, and their spillage destroys our water. How long will our life-support systems be able to keep us alive before the systems themselves kill us?
What is organic living? There are several definitions of the word “organic.” The definition we’re most familiar with refers to our food.
Organic: of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or hormones; organic eggs; organic vegetables; organic chicken, etc.
Another definition: simple, healthful and close to nature, as in an "organic lifestyle"
What we're paying for when we pay a little extra for "Certified Organic" food is impossible to calculate:
*It includes not having more tons of chemical fertilizers and pesticides dumped into our ground water supply.
*It includes a lessening of the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico.
*It includes actually getting nutrients from our food.
*It includes the probability that our kids will be less likely to join the 30% already headed for type 2 diabetes.
*It lessens the likelihood of our joining the 50% of Americans on one kind of medical drug or another.
Sure, I'm willing to pay a few dollars more for that kind of organic living.
Better still, I've been growing my own organic vegetables for the last 25 years. It amazes me that about 1% of our population grow their own vegetables. In view of the people of Havana, who grow 80% of the produce needed for their population within the city limits, I think our 1% is a very sad commentary on our society. We can certainly "talk the talk", but I think it's well past the time when we should actually "walk the walk".
As in every facet of our society there are frauds and deceivers, and we certainly have them in abundance in our awakening to our environmentally destructive practices. "Organic", "Natural", and other such words on a label doesn't mean that it is either organic or natural. It means the supplier wants us to think it is. If it doesn't say "Certified Organic" by one of the US Dept. of Agriculture’s authorized certifying agencies, or by the USDA itself, as in “USDA Organic”, it is certain that it is neither organic nor natural.
You will find labels that say “Natural”, “Nature’s”, “Organic”, and the product is in a pretty green or blue container with pictures of nature implying its purity. However, if you don’t see the “Certified” label, it isn’t.
Twenty-five years ago, when I started tearing up my yards in the city of Los Angeles and putting in vegetable garden beds, I was a kook. Over the last few years most of our friends have become “kooks” right along with me by doing some of the same in their own yards. Now anyone who sees my gardens or theirs no longer ridicules the notion, but are now envious of our organic living practices and trying to do the same.
If Havana can grow 80% of their vegetables within their city limits, why can’t we grow 90%?
I believe we can. And I believe the impact on the environment would be a staggering improvement if we grew only 50%.
We’ve seen how our drug, oil, and chemical companies look after our health, and we’ve seen how our government monitors them. I know what I can change and I know what I cannot. What I can change and control is what happens in my house. I can control what food my family eats, what stuff our clothes are made of, whether or not we recycle what can be recycled and how we dispose of what can’t. In the beginning of our awareness, these little things seem “kooky” and even obsessive. In a very short time, one begins to wonder why they haven’t always done things that way. Anything else quickens our demise. Our life support system itself is in fact killing us.
One of the few things that I can do for the planet, other than talk about it, is to take care of my tiny piece of it; and help others do the same when I can. This is what the “What is Organic Living?” section is all about.
About the Author
Lee O’Hara has been gardening organically in his front and back yards in the city of Los Angeles for 25 years. Through long study and application of organic methods, he produces enormous quantities of chemical free vegetables. He chuckles when sharing the reactions of first time visitors to his home, as they see onions, squash, beans and other such things growing throughout his yards. People are uniformly staggered at the quality of his vegetables and insist on knowing how he does it. Lee has produced two DVD's on organic gardening, works as a consultant to new home gardeners, and speaks to school kids and seasoned gardeners alike who want to learn how to grow their own, organically. Visit his website: www.organichomegardener.com