Masanobu Fukuoka’s book The One Straw Revolution, written back in the 1970’s, is even more relevant today than it was then. A scientist himself, while researching various areas of agriculture, came to the conclusion that chemical agriculture was leading the consumer and the land on the path to illness, and that there had to be a better way. So began his journey into natural farming, using observation and patience to guide him. Eventually he developed simple ways to grow rice and a cereal crop in rotation, without chemicals or hard work. The book is a delightful and insightful look at life and agriculture through the eyes of a Japanese scientist turned farmer.
In one chapter he is discussing the supermarket’s desire to offer the same vegetables all year round and all the same size, with fresh (unnatural) colours and how this puts incredible pressures on the farmers to move towards out-of-season production, with huge losses if the products are different in size as well as the problems of expensive cold storage and chemical coatings to every piece of fruit and vegetable to ensure artificial long keeping.
Then he puts this back onto the consumer by saying….
…..To say that what one eats is merely a matter of preference is deceiving because an unnatural diet creates a hardship for the farmer and the fisherman as well. It seems to me that the greater one’s desires, the more one has to work to satisfy them….
That is the nub of so many of society’s present day ills; desire for more than is natural to have or be or do.
When I read books and articles I always refer back to my life and the lives of the world I see about me as a kind of reference point for making an opinion about what I am reading. My life here is funded by the tiniest income, so tiny I don’t even pay tax. I can do this for several reasons and one is because I was fortunate enough to have the money to set myself up when I came here with a house, a car and modest household goods. It is only from that point on that I needed to make enough money to live on.
Many people who have chosen to live here in southern Tasmania have arrived with the same ability to set themselves up as me. But then they return to a hectic life of working far from home and lots of driving and shopping and expenses that I don’t have. I assume, thanks to that paragraph in the book, this is because their desires are greater than mine.
It is natural to eat by the seasons and I have no problem at all with preparing delicious meals almost entirely from organic, seasonal food. I cannot think of much that I eat that is not seasonal except spices and grains (which of course ARE seasonal but because they are dried seeds, are usually available all year round). My food bill is very low indeed, especially compared to the trolleys full of packaged food that I see people wheeling to their cars. I have no desire to even know what all that stuff is.
I don’t feel that my life is lacking; in fact I feel it is very rich and wonderful. I love what I do in my Garden Shed and Pantry home and market shop. I love Cygnet and have no desire to shop elsewhere. It is with great regret that I shop online for certain books and technology and I could not live anywhere without the internet! I love the community garden and all rowing and all the simple pleasures of outdoor, rural Tasmania.
I have learned to say no to taking on more roles and doing more things because after a certain point, more is not better; more is less do-able. Everyone has a natural state that may not be the same as your friends’ or neighbours’. Trying to do or be more than is right for you is self-destructive. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by what I must achieve this week or tomorrow, even though I know people who can do twice as much as me without any (visible) problem.
It seems to me that the greater one’s desires, the more one has to work to satisfy them… Thank you Masanobu for your words of wisdom relevant to the field and the soul.