November 18, 2011

Food Waste

Waste food feeds 5,000 for lunch at Trafalgar Square

My God! Are we in the West really able to be so choosy about our food that we can afford to throw almost one third of it away? How much expendable income do we have in these times that we can afford to put such a large percentage of it in the bin? That's what it amounts to - throwing money away!

It is an obscenity that such a large part of the world goes hungry through no fault of their own while we can afford to quite happily send food to landfill. I can only presume that most people are happy to throw money away while complaining about low wages and rising prices, otherwise we wouldn't have a situation arise where 5,000 people can be fed from food that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. And when was the last time you got indignant about the size of that landfill site on your doorstep?

Did you know that a misshapen carrot tastes exactly the same as its perfectly straight counterpart found on your supermarket shelf? Did you know that an apple with blemishes on its skin tastes just as good as its perfect same-sized counterpart? In fact, the misshapen carrot and the blemished apple probably taste better because they are more likely to be from a small local producer or a back garden and not mass produced to fit some exacting standards laid down by a large conglomerate who wish to present uniform characterless food.

Some years ago I used to deliver chickens to supermarkets and got talking to the drivers of the articulated lorries delivering fruit and vegetables to the big supermarkets. They used to dread the checks on their consignments when they arrived at the delivery doors in case some fault was found in one of the pallets because this would mean loading the entire consignment back on the lorry and rejecting it all. It would then all be returned to whence it came. This is obscene in itself, but it points to the root of the education we have been given as to what we expect our goods to look like. When was the last time you chopped up a carrot that was twisted or appeared to have grown legs? When was the last time you shopped at a farm shop or high street grocer?

Food Waste Facts
Source: Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) -  (the italics are my responses)

7.2 million tonnes of household food waste is thrown away annually in the UK
How big is your local landfill site and when was the last time you (or anyone else) complained about its size?

4.4 million tonnes of food binned annually could have been eaten
Try telling this to the starving people of the world.

The environmental impact of avoidable household food waste is around 17 million tonnes of CO2e - equivalent to the emissions of one in five cars on UK roads
That's over 6,000,000 cars! In 2010 there were almost 32,000,000 cars on British roads. And how many miles are driven each year to buy food that ends up in landfill?

The average family wastes £680 of food a year
I didn't know so many people had so much expendable income. And we all seem to complain about low wages and rising prices. Why?

The total value of food wasted in the UK each year is £12bn
How many mouths would that feed in the world?

See also:

November 16, 2011

The Deepness of Being

Just recently I found myself saying that the words ‘relationship’ and ‘love’ weren’t adequate for what I felt for Stephen. I always thought I knew what they meant and, for previous relationships, they were sufficient. Not now though. As my feelings for Stephen go deeper and wider than I’ve ever felt before I thought I’d try and work out what it all means to me. After all, that’s what this blog is for!

I hesitate to call it love at first sight (why do I hesitate? - see last paragraph) but I truly think I fell in love with him by the time we got home from the station - a journey of about 30 minutes! Something clicked between us straight away and I believe there is something we can recognise in another human being without the use of words. Call it instinct if you like. We’d felt relaxed enough in our online chats and emails to meet in the first place and it was evident from the start that we shared a lot of thoughts and interests, but a connection was made between us almost instantly. He immediately felt relaxed and easy to get on with and he has progressively felt more easy to be open and honest with as time goes on.

Openness and honesty seem to me to be two of the most important aspects of any relationship to be had with anyone. It has to start with self. The openness and honesty I express to another person is first limited by how open and honest I can be with myself and secondly by the restraints of the relationship. For instance, I wouldn’t necessarily tell a close friend my deepest sexual fantasy but I might tell my lover.

While I have often explored my own openness with myself and investigated thoughts and feelings to an extreme, I have often limited that expression with another. I found after the end of one relationship that I’d placed my own limits on the capability of my partner to understand and accept. In conversation with him one day, after the end of the relationship, I mentioned something I thought might have been taboo between us only to find he wanted to know more and shared a similar interest. The reason we hadn’t discussed it when we lived together was more about my insecurities than my perception of his acceptance of my thoughts.

Discussions with Stephen have already encompassed insecurities and acceptance. We have both talked about withholding things from others only to find this causes some difficulty further down the line, or to find there was no reason in the first place and that the other person would have liked it mentioned. Consequently, we have vowed not to censor any thought, fantasy, or idea until after it has been mentioned. If we don’t give each other the chance to say, “no” how will we know we want to? So far, the answers have been resounding, “yes’s” to anything we’ve talked about.

It is this flowering of acceptance between us that enables me to be more open with myself and then with him than I’ve ever felt I could before. When I can talk about my deepest fantasies and desires with him I feel more and more that he is part of me. I described him once as the part of me I didn’t know was missing. I can say absolutely anything to this man and not fear rejection.

I’ve already written about finding that we shared similar values, interests and ideals. As that first week moved on we both discovered there was more to life that we shared; lying on the sea wall gazing at the sky and then another night looking at the stars, walking in the rain and fog, nature, food, books, self-expression, and much more. This gave us much to talk about and I found very quickly that this also deepened any feelings I had for the man.

We learn from each other. We learn about how the other has experienced the world and experiences it now. I’m fascinated in the difference between his experiencing and his philosophy on life and mine and want to absorb it and learn from it. He expands my mind.

He recently wrote:
“I love your mind as much as all of the rest of you. You expand my mind and touch my heart. What more could I ask for? I relish every little tiny part of you my love. Your body is where your heart and soul reside, so how could your every physical expression not be magical and sacred to me?”

He also has a way of putting things that mirror my own thoughts and feelings and this was one of them. I include this not to boast about the way he feels about me (although I think I am entitled to boast and sometimes I want to) but because it is an instance of like-thinking. And like-thinking runs through us like a thread. When ALL aspects of our experiencing and sharing and partnership are inextricably linked perhaps that is where the separateness of us begins to blur. This is how I feel with Stephen. Separate but one. I value our separateness and I celebrate and cherish our oneness.

I want to celebrate every aspect of him and me. There is magic and sanctity in our physical, emotional, sexual and intellectual expressing, which is why the word relationship feels inadequate. In accordance with his Pagan take on life and my own, largely eastern philosophy on life, we both understand the importance of ritual and celebration and it feels important to both of us to celebrate all aspects of our being together, whether this is about the simpler acts of life and love or the deeper insights we have into ourselves and each other.

His words are rich and expressive and give me insight into his mind and soul. I love listening to him talk. I love reading what he writes. I love hearing what he has to say. Someone once said, "We read in order to know we are not alone." Maybe it is as much about knowing there are people there accepting us, as well as knowing we are not the only person to experience things in the way we do. Reading and writing create and generate empathy.

On top of all this I love looking at the man. I love the sight of him. I love his looks. I love watching how he moves. I love the way he performs actions and the positioning of his body as he does so. I was attracted to his looks in the first place but I don’t know when I became attracted to the rest. Did this come about because of how I began to feel about the rest of him or what? One seems to arise from the other. I could look at him for hours and this is also a first for me. I’ve never found anyone else so physically attractive, let alone so intellectually, emotionally and sexually attractive. I’m also interested in the physiological aspects of how I can go weak at the knees when he scratches his ear or when he walks or when he looks at me - but another time for that.

So, have I discovered why the word relationship is inadequate in describing what we have between us? I don’t think so but I think I have gone some way towards it. What I am describing is love, deep love. It is deep enough to not be able to see the bottom. It is frightening in its comfort and comforting in its fear. I feel safer than ever in exploring myself and exploring another person. I feel supported, understood and encouraged. He holds me up and is there ready should I fall. Why would I not want to enter into life with this person?

Note: Why did I hesitate to call it love at first sight? Perhaps because I’ve been conditioned to think of this as a romantic ideal that only the likes of Mills & Boon authors write about or was the subject of romantic films. In talking to others I have found that we’re not alone in our situation. I’ve talked to a couple of people who met their partners and fell in love pretty much straight away and at least two who decided to move in almost immediately. This gives me strength.

November 14, 2011

Sharing Life With Another

One month from today I will be sitting down with the man I love in this house, our home, drinking tea or coffee - or maybe champagne - and looking at a pile of belongings that need a place of their own. There was a time, until fairly recently, when I would have found this a daunting and frightening prospect. Not now. I can’t wait.

More than ever in my life I feel that I will be sharing life with someone rather than living alongside them. We each have similar thoughts about what life could be like and we both know we have to work at it. We both seem to operate from a nurturing angle for the benefit of the other. I am at my most open and honest with Puck and look forward to the challenges and possibilities life will bring to both of us. I feel everything I give returned to me.

Something I read recently sums up quite nicely my own thoughts about relationships. More than anything I wish to see Puck become the person he most truly can be and the most happy he can be and I know he wishes the same for me. Marianne Williamson wrote the following about relationships:

"Our relationships can be trips to heaven or trips to hell, depending on how we ourselves choose to interact with another person. Knowing the principles of loving relationship— recognizing the spiritual lessons afforded us by each encounter — gives us skill and even mastery at this basic human experience. It is through relationships that we either rise to our most creative possibilities in life, or fall into the patterns of fear that would consistently hold us back."

We have already discussed patterns of fear and vowed to tackle them between us. With Puck I do not feel afraid to face my fears for I know he will be there to keep me safe. Just as I want someone to feel safe and comfortable with I also want to protect and comfort him. He is the dearest thing to have happened to me and the most profoundly loveable person to have entered my life. I don’t just love him - I am in love with him, deeply and totally.

The things we look forward to doing in our lives match so well too. I can feel days coming on of cooking, pickling, baking, gardening, cycling, walking, meditating, ritual, writing, reading, pursuing passions and ideals, staring at stars, watching sunsets and sunrises, decorating our home and making it truly ours, learning and teaching, dancing in thunderstorms, protesting and becoming involved, and generally wondering at life and our life together. This list is by no means exhaustive.

In short I want to share everything with him that life has to throw at me. I am ready for more change than ever and I am ready for change with him.

He will be pleased to know that I have finally phoned a chimney sweep and left a message asking for a return call. It’s getting chillier at night now and a fire in the grate would be far more preferable to the electric heaters. For years I have meant to go to the woods where I used to live to collect fire wood and never got round to it. That is about to change as are many other things.

…… slight pause …...

Slight pause there to phone him and hear his voice. I love him more than anything and anyone I have ever known. I love talking to him and listening to him. I love hearing his laughter and the tone of voice when he tells me he loves me. I love knowing what he is doing and what he is thinking and I get the warmest, most tender feeling when I think about him and see him and hear him.

He’s just told me his mum bought him a card recently because it reminded her that we both love clouds. She must be the most romantic mother I’ve ever come across. She talks about our love for each other, barges between us so she can hold our hands, and accepts me as Stephen’s boyfriend/partner rather than his ‘special friend’. This is a bit of a revelation to Stephen. It means I am free to express my feelings about her son to her. I even thanked her for giving birth to him the first time I met her.

…… end of slight pause …...

I have not looked forward to change in life so much as I do now. In my previous 2 relationships I thought of ways to keep my own space so that we would not get in each others way. In this relationship I want him in my space, I want to learn from his presence and I want to absorb him. I know there will be times when both of us need our own space for one reason or another but it doesn’t feel like we’ll have to work at it. Even the word ‘relationship’ seems the wrong word to use. We are symbiotic even in our separateness. The word ‘organic’ springs to mind.

Interesting to think that the word “relationship” felt wrong. It is surely a relationship we are in but it feels more than that. I can’t voice what the ‘more’ is yet but it will come to me I am sure. We are together and that’s that. I never want this to end. He feels so right in my life that not being in it would be so wrong. It doesn’t feel right when we are apart now. It feels almost as though he has been around for most of my life already and will be around for the rest of it. He exists alongside me and with me and I feel I belong with someone more fully than I have ever experienced before.

But then, everything with Stephen is more than I’ve ever had before.

Roll on December 14th.