joanne sales



Conscious Living: Grow Some Food
Support your local farms - as if your life depended on it.

The prosperity of recent decades has lured us to sleep. Like children, we have grown to expect others to feed us. We might want to think that one through again.

In the 1950s, as I was secretly hiding unwanted morsels of food on a ledge under our yellow linoleum kitchen table, and my older sister was slipping spaghetti through a crack in the floor , my mother would tell us, “Eat your dinner. Children in India are starving.” It had no impact on my willingness to eat liver, but it was important information.

Fast forward a decade plus. Among our group of friends in the 60s, we occasionally called out, “Chinese law! Chinese law!” None of us knew which Chinese law we were referring to, but we knew what it meant. The person who sees problem is responsible to do something about it. If I noticed that the car running out of gas, trash in the yard or nothing in the frig, it was my job to act. The potential for abuse of this law is apparent. If becoming conscious requires action, then being oblivious has rewards. But being oblivious can have dire consequences, especially when it comes to food.

The world has shrunk since the 1950s. The pictures of the hungry show up in our kitchens. “Chinese law!” Our knowledge gives us both the responsibility and the privilege to do something about it.

Recently, I had a bad dream. I was standing beside windows of a large arena. There were cookies. I chose a large one with coconut cream icing. A harsh wind began to blow. Outside, I saw buildings around us crash down, and people struggling in the storm. I took a bite of cookie.

I awoke in terror. It is not common for me to have nightmares, nor to be afraid of wind. What frightened me in this dream was that I watched the suffering and took a bite of cookie. I don’t want to be the kind of person who unconsciously eats coconut cookies while through the glass, at a safe distance, we hear news of food riots and armored rice trucks.

Nothing like crisis to remind us of basic human needs. Food, clean water, shelter, warmth. During the Great Depression in the US in the 1930s, there was a wheel barrow full of money left in front of a bank. Someone dumped the money and stole the wheelbarrow. Food is primary.

“Chinese law!” If people are hungry, what shall we do? One response of good conscience is to grow more food. Residents of small planets - and small islands - are wise to make sure there is enough food for everyone - close to home. The 100 Mile diet is a brilliant idea. The 100 Yard diet is even better. Local food, abundantly produced, close to home.

The importance of a self-sustaining food supply on Vancouver Island cannot be over emphasized. Political instability, oil shortages and unstable weather could affect our connection to the mainland.

The U.S. trade embargo forced Cuba to stop exports and to produce their own food again. “Thousands of commercial urban gardens grew up throughout the island... Land slated for development was converted to acres of vegetable gardens that supplied markets where local people bought tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes and other crops. By 2004 Havana’s formerly vacant lots produced nearly the city’s entire vegetable supply." (Montgomery, Cuba,

Because of climate change and fresh water supply, Canada may become the new bread basket of the world. If the world is looking to Canada for dinner, that’s all the more reason for us to save farm land, protect natural watersheds (i.e.forests), and get growing! Many people are. Salt Spring Seeds and Seeds of Victoria are short on seeds this season because of the dramatic increase in people growing their own food in backyard gardens.

An easy place to start? Grow Red Russian Kale, one of the new super foods. It grows easily, tastes good, and reseeds. In June, there is still time.

I was explaining to my 3-year-old granddaughter Elena about how actions are like seeds. “If you do angry things, it’s like planting an anger seed. You get anger back. If you plant love seeds, you get love back. Squash seeds give you squash. Tomato seeds give you tomatoes. Lettuce seeds give you lettuce.”
I wondered if she understood.

“So, Elena. What do you get when you plant a sunflower seed?”
”Love, “ she answered.
She got it.

Local references: Kathryn Gimmell, advocating for urban agriculture in Oceanside in the successful SPIN model ( is looking for local urban land to produce food. Kale Force of Powell River ( Carolyn Harriot and Guy Dauncey of Victoria ( Barb Ebell of Nanoose Edibles.

Support your local farms - as if your life depended on it.