And finally, friends, we come to the last excerpt I'm taking from Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 book, "Animal Vegetable Miracle," in which she places her family's efforts for the year within the context of global survival. Though her views grew from different roots than mine, I also came to my food advocacy from sustainability. I just didn't realize that my interest in sustainability and my interest in legitimizing food addiction came from spurs on the same line. (It's a good thing, too, 'cause it let me keep "Sustainably" as the name of this blog, but who else cares about that?)
Global scale alteration from pollution didn't happen when human societies started using a little bit of fossil fuel. It happened after unrestrained growth, irresponsible management, and a cultural refusal to assign any moral value to excessive consumption. [Emphasis added.] Those habits can be reformed. They have been reformed: several times in the last century, we've learned that some of our favorite things like DDT and the propellants in aerosol cans were rapidly unraveling the structure and substance of our biosphere. We gave them up, and reversed the threats. ... In our community and our household we now have options we didn't know about five years ago: hybrid vehicles, geothermal heating. And I refused to believe a fuel-driven food industry was the only hand that could feed my family. It felt good to be right about that. [Pages 345-6]
I am am grateful for this book, and am almost completely down with Kingsolver's direction — we have exchanged values of thrift and modesty for values of bling and boast, and we are the poorer for it. But I can't agree with the statement to which I added emphasis above.
Most people assign moral value around excessive consumption every time they cross paths with an obese person! I still do it, after years of being on the receiving end and years more of prayer for a reconstructed attitude. To be clear, I do it a lot less than I used to, but it dies hard.
Yes, some people come by their excessive consumption willfully, or lazily. But others are led there, against their will, by their biology, abetted by corporations that determinedly doctor food-like products to take advantage of that biology and then spend billions of dollars to pound messages that drive consumption.
Yes, such individuals are not solely victims, and if my experience is of value to anyone else, it is as evidence that lifestyle changes — similar, say, to committing to locavorism for a year — can overcome both the deficiencies of biology and the phalanx of corporations bent on the bottom line, regardless of what it does to the fitness of individuals or to the commonwealth.