Resilience: seasonal, local food sources

Resilience is one of those concepts I’ve been seeing a lot of in discussions about sustainability, how to cope with the future, and ecology. When I first started looking it up, I was trying to find more about it in terms of ecology, and mostly seemed to be finding information about building resilient human communities – which is also very important, and obviously interconnected with larger-scale resilience of ecological systems, but not what I wanted at the time! And most of the sources I was finding were barely, if at all, talking about how human community resilience WAS connected with the bigger picture, except in terms of things like recovering from natural disasters and how you need strong human relationships in the community to do that.

Merriam-Webster defines resilience thus:

: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens

: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

Wikipedia, on resilience in ecology:

In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic events such as fires, flooding, windstorms, insect population explosions, and human activities such as deforestation, fracking of the ground for oil extraction, pesticide sprayed in soil, and the introduction of exotic plant or animal species. Disturbances of sufficient magnitude or duration can profoundly affect an ecosystem and may force an ecosystem to reach a threshold beyond which a different regime of processes and structures predominates.

The last sentence is particularly interesting, from an ecological perspective, because what can happen is that, once an ecosystem gets pushed too far, it can’t return to what its “normal” used to be, but it will find a new “normal,” a new stable state.

Resilience in wild systems has been of most interest to me because the non-human part of the puzzle is what I’m most interested in focusing on; after a certain point, no matter how much I care about it, human political stuff annoys and bores me, and I’d rather spend my time with plants and crawly things and non-human vertebrates.

However, I’ve been (happily) finding more writing lately that does actually blend both areas – the human political/cultural/social and the wild systems – which is absolutely necessary to do to work out how to live here in a fashion that is not ultimately degrading to the whole.

There was a nice little article (I may be biased because I like food, ad find it less boring than “get to know your neighbors” talk) on resilience.org this week called The Meaning of a Local Table that accomplished some of that in the closing:

. . . as long as the small farm has to compete with corporate farming over convenience, the small farm (and the consumer) will lose. A truly sustainable farm needs a sustainable food tradition with which to partner, combining geography and a people.

In a truly local food system, it is the culture that adapts to the foods’ seasonal availability. The annual coq au vin made from the culled rooster in the fall, the slow-cooked leg of mutton from the culled ewe at the height of summer, both are simmered in a sauce made of freshly grown vegetables, herbs, and garlic. Both meals are place based, with a personal relationship with the farmer, pasture, and garden and seasoned by the utility of the ingredients.

It is this place-based cooking tradition that has the potential to nourish our lives, build resilient communities, and sustain the planet.

 

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About Fjothr Lokakvan

More or less Northern Tradition polytheist.
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