Environment, Green living

Green Living: How did it all start?

November 11, 2013

me with eggI blame it all on a box of vegetables! I didn’t really want to do it, but my friend started getting them delivered; her reasons for it made sense and so I thought that I probably ought to follow suit.

And boy was I in for a shock! Having spent the first years of my married life cooking supermarket carrots and broccoli (and frozen peas if I was feeling adventurous), I was now faced with vegetables that I’d never come across before. I can still remember my first encounter with broad beans: I stir-fried them whole, not realising they had to be podded! Not only that but the vegetables in the box weren’t perfect: sometimes they had marks on them or were a bit out-of-shape; and I encountered seasons for the first time. Why did I get so many courgettes in the summer and then so many cabbages in the winter? And they were dirty. Shock horror, I actually had to wash mud off my vegetables!

Slowly though I started asking why these vegetables were so different from the ones I bought in the supermarket, and I began to discover this big thing called The Global Food System of which we are all a part. As I did so, I underwent a conversion in my relationship to food. When I first got married, I prided myself in buying the cheapest chicken I could find and cooking it all in jars of ‘Chicken Tonite’. Now, I grow (some of) my own vegetables in an allotment that I share with friends, run a food cooperative (a group of us buys in bulk from Infinity Foods, an organic and fair trade wholesaler), avoid processed food as much as possible, and am involved in a pig cooperative, with about fifteen of us rearing pigs on nearby land.

My ‘food revolution’, though, didn’t take place in a vacuum. When I was at university I read a book called, Whose Earth?, which, for the first time, opened my eyes to the Biblical case for caring for God’s creation. I was studying Theology and for me it was vitally important that something made sense biblically. At the same time, my soon-to-be-husband was going through his own revolution as he had his eyes opened to the biblical theme of justice and caring for the poor. Looking back, I can see how formative those years were as God rooted in us both a love for his world and a passion to see his justice brought to bear in situations where it is utterly lacking.

A major milestone for me came in the form of a ‘lifestyle audit’ that someone at my church put together. It was like a quiz to see how ‘green’ a Christian you were. At that point I’d been doing quite a bit of reading around environmental theology and had pretty much got my theoretical thinking on it sorted. However, I was shocked to discover that, although I had all the head knowledge, I wasn’t actually doing anything to live it out in my own life. I think the official definition of that is hypocrite! I decided there and then to do something about it and start to change my life so that it lived up to my theology.

And so began the journey of transformation, of which my food revolution has been a major part: a journey that I’m still on. It has become one of my aims in life to TRY (please note that word!) to live in ways that do as little damage as possible – and hopefully actually benefit – this world and all its inhabitants (both human and non-human) and to help and encourage others to do the same.

And this is where this new blog series comes in.

It’s sad to realise that the many problems our world is facing are ALL caused by human activity in one way or another. We also know that, although our economic development has brought many good things (I’m really not an advocate for returning to the 1800s), you can have too much of a good thing, and our highly consumptive lifestyles are damaging us too, as our lives become increasingly pressurised and we face the burdens of family and community breakdown.

But maybe there is a different way. Do you long for a life that lives out God’s love for his creation; in which you can play your part in working for a better world? Then join with me on my journey, and tell me about yours, as through this Green Living series we will look at the many and varied things we can do to live more lightly in our world.

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  • Reply Joanna November 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I’m with you on this journey. I used to run a fair trade store in our local church, organised the buying of stuff from a wholefood wholesaler and divide it up amongst neighbours and all that sort of thing, but then I left the UK and now there are different issues to contend with – like choosing to buy groceries from our local supermarket, as there is no wholefood wholesaler within many miles. Now I grow most of our own food, still working on the meat, but then again we don’t eat much of it anyway and I always used to spin the meat out with lentils and beans.

    I’m also studying for a PhD and my topic is participatory development in agricultural/rural Latvia and that means looking at food chains or networks where people distribute food, as well as how people interact with the governmental authorities in development. That also means I have to keep an eye on many of the green topics that are relevant to agriculture and rural issues. My Masters was in Managing Sustainable Rural Development, so again many green issues there. It’s good to hear Christians engaging in these kinds of issues, instead of ignoring them.

    • Reply ruthvalerio November 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Lovely to meet you here, Joanna, and thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll enjoy this series as it develops over the coming months – it’ll be interesting to see how things compare to living in Latvia. All the best, Ruth

  • Reply Joanna November 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Getting a veg box was a major step in my ‘food revolution’ too. Another one was Ellen Davis’s book Scripture, Culture and Agriculture, which had a profound effect on my attitudes to the land. I am so glad you are blogging about these issues: I know it is a journey and I know I have such a long way to go, so I’m really looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  • Reply ruthvalerio November 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Yes, I really want to read Ellen Davis’ book as it sounds very good. I need a good non-fiction book to read at the moment so your comment is the final push I need to get it! Thanks for commenting.

    • Reply ruthvalerio November 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      …sadly the price of the book has put me off though 🙁

  • Reply Ben Niblett November 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Great to hear the start of the story, Ruth! I remember instinctively feeling these things, and then the delight of finding them rooted in the bible – Tim Cooper’s book Green Christianity was an early milestone for me, followed I think by John Stott. Look forward to reading more of your journey.

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