Self Sufficiency Is Good For Mental Health

ItzaFineDay/CC BY 2.0

We are undoubtedly a consumer-driven society. We consume fossil fuels, food, consumer products, and services, to name a few. But for the majority of the American public, we don’t produce anything that we consume.

This reliance on external consumption isn’t just a drain on our environment, but it’s also a drain on our mental state, according to a recent interview with Ferenc Mate author of A Real Life on Food Chain Radio.

Mate writes that the most sold drugs worldwide are tranquilizers and antidepressants. “We’re totally stressed and we’re totally depressed,” he says.

The stress, according to Mate, is rooted in moving away from our ideals. It used to be so simple, we worried about the foods we ate and our community. Social ties and sustenance were what our lives revolved around. Today, we’ve become so disconnected from both of these ideals that we’re constantly unhappy and stressed.

Disconnection from Our Roots

Food is our daily medicine, three times a day, seven days a week. Yet, we’ve become so disconnected from it that most of us aren’t even in touch with where it comes from. We are consumers of the foods we eat without having anything to do with their production. Mate argues that this lack of self sufficiency makes us unhappy. We try and feed this unhappiness with consumption, but instead we end up stressed, depressed, and fat.

Mate was formerly a writer in New York City who decided that the life he was living was totally unnatural. As a result, he cashed out and bought a farm and vineyard in Tuscany. He reconnected to the land and to his community.

A Secondary People

“We’ve become so secondary. We used to be a primary people. We did things with our own hands. “[This self sufficiency] made you creative, proud that you had actually done something for yourself,” says Mate.

Without this sense of self sufficiency we’ve become an anxious people. We’re disconnected from our social ties and our environment. With self reliance comes self esteem.

This translates to our kids as well. We should be teaching our kids to be productive and social rather than trying to keep them busy. We should be teaching them self sufficiency as well.

In 2012, how can we regain some of the self sufficiency that we’ve lost? How can we regain our connection to the planet and our connection to our fellow man? Beyond just enjoying local foods, my goal in 2012 is to have a direct connection by expanding my herb garden to a food garden. Further, to go 100 percent unprocessed even if that means not having what I want when I want it. Cheers to the REAL good life.

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Tags: Agriculture | Farmers Markets | Farming | Living With Less | Local Food