The more food I grow, the more that I find myself changing. Growing, cooking, and preserving your own food cannot be defined in a capitalist system. It’s not efficient. The time and labour that goes into a jar of tomato sauce from seedling to processing could never compare with the $2 spent at the grocery store. If I try and compare these two products within a colonial mindset, one clearly outweighs the other.
My experiments with sunflower seeds this season has taught me a new appreciation for food. The time and care that goes into growing, harvesting, roasting, and storing sunflower seeds for consumption (versus the $3 that I could pay at the store) has given me lessons about food waste and consumption that I don’t know if I could have learned any other way.
You can’t attach a dollar value to ancestral skills. You can barely even practice ancestral skills in western civilization. They are time consuming and in-efficient by today’s standards, usually producing requisite rather than luxury items. Trying to monetize ancestral skills will barely pay your rent and often ruin the enjoyment and passion.
But the value that these skills bring to your life are countless. It is a lesson in decolonizing and unsettling; on slowing down, on connecting with the natural world. The care I put into my food, the time I take to enjoy it. The appreciation I have for homemade and handmade items. It has taught me to live minimally and be satisfied with less; to honour my time in the garden or at the loom. It is self care, but also community care. Because I know that my tomatoes are not sprayed with poison and grown in a way that contributes to collapse. Because I know my rugs are made with items that would have been in the landfill.
Growing food is no small undertaking but I wasn’t prepared for the profound way it would change my views on the world.