I’m taking this organic gardening class to get my "Organic Gardener’s Certification", and so far it’s pretty nice. Good people, just exactly my cup of tea, really. Last night was the first class and I, being my usual overly-philosophical self, got caught up with the whole concept of diversity and what it means to us. Our teacher was talking briefly about looking at nature, and learning from it. She mentioned that one thing that has always been true in healthy natural habitats is diversity of life. I got to thinking, what does that say about us as a culture? There are so many examples of this culture doing it’s best to wipe out all that rich diversity and create a monoculture- telling us all that we want the exact same thing every time- we want the same food and we want it to taste the same as it always has, we want the same clothes, the same lawns with the same green grass, we want to look the same and act the same, we want the same cars, the same houses, the same professions, the same religion… well, that doesn’t exactly spell out "health" from the perspective of the natural world. You might disagree, that it doesn’t mean that we’re inherently unhealthy as a culture, but I challenge you to look at the costs we’ve inherited as a result.
I realize that I could probably go on a hefty rant about all the ways in which this lack of diversity has hurt us, but I’m pressed for time and I’ll try to keep it simple. We are constantly trying to work against the natural world to get what we need. This won’t work forever, and I’d venture to say that it has never really "worked" in the way we’d like it to. The costs have always been present, even if we’ve been ignorant to them. If we don’t change our ways soon, the costs will be undeniable and tragic.
One of the things that I can’t stress enough is the health of our guts. It’s become more and more apparent to me that maintaining a healthy and incredibly diverse population of microflora is one of the keys to having good health. There’s basically a whole universe inside of us- hundreds of trillions of microorganisms that all work in symbiosis with our bodies- helping to protect us and keep us in good health. However, with our modern diets and the absence of many traditional probiotic foods, we’ve got many folks suffering from a host of digestive problems, overgrowth of harmful micro-organisms that cause various health problems, among many other mysterious ailments- all because we didn’t support the diversity of our gut flora.
I don’t have all the answers. I do know that by preserving the diversity of our land, food, and cultures we help to preserve our health as well. So it’s something to take seriously and examine in each of our lives. How are we contributing to this problem in our daily lives? What industries are we supporting that are contributing to the dwindling diversity of life? In the spirit of this revelation, I’ll be doing my best to plant many different heirloom vegetables, planting lots of local perennials that help to support various insects and animals… I’m going to try to keep an open mind, and to pay attention not only to what I need, but to what others (both human and non-human) need as well.
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diversity in nature/culture
I absolutely love this line of thought, that health comes from diversity in our culture, our environment, and in our bodies.
One thing I think that led to the back to land movement in the 60’s and 70’s was a craving for something authentic and varied after years in various suburbans tracts of cookie cutter houses, manicured lawns, and women in girdles.
I think it is also fueling the “back to the city/urban gardening” movements in someways. Generations now have been raised within the confines of mall culture..the mercantile of sameness…People want and need real community. A community of real interesting and diverse people…Not a bunch of fellow clones in J. Crew.
The gardens that I’ve always found the most interesting were those English cottage style ones…with a thousand different flowers blooming everywhere, bees buzzing, vegetables growing…little stone paths and linens drying on the clothes line.