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Strawberry Fields Forever?

2019, Jun 3 | A Practice for Summer

STORYTELLING: How would June be different without strawberries?

Can you imagine June without strawberries?  What would they eat at Wimbledon? Strawberries tune me into NOW like no other food.  Mainly because I am bloody fruit deprived by the time they come round as I try to be exceptionally seasonal and local about eating fruit. ⠀

In the Oneida Native American language, the word for the month of June IS strawberry.  This makes complete sense to me. 

I live in Denmark.  That means I have not eaten much fresh fruit since December.  That first juicy burst of strawberry in June is HEAVEN! Heaven, I tell you.  Here´s the thing. As much as I love the taste, would I want strawberry fields to last forever? I don´t think so. If I ate strawberries all year round, would they taste as good and be a mindful anchor to the moment of excitement that builds when summer is just around the corner? Having given up non seasonal fruit for 6 years now, I feel confident in saying, absolutely not.  Here´s the thing, by not wanting strawberry fields to last forever, I am leaning in to the kind of behaviour that COULD make them last forever, but with a longer time horizon. ⠀

Eating Seasonally Helps Break an Environmental Culture of Madness 

Our market addiction to having all the same foods accessible ALL the time is shear madness.  75% of our global food supply comes from just 12 species.  To maintain this level of production, we turn vast quantities of land over to the production of just one species – at the expense of all others.  That is not how an ecosystem works.  A resilient ecosystem is bio-diverse.  Every plant, animal and microbiota plays a role and has a cycle of life (and death) that relates to every other plant, animal and microbiota in some way.  When humans try to step in to control the ecosystem with pesticides and fertilisers, we strip the ecosystem of life forms which seem insignificant but upon which the long term security of our food supply (and therefore our lives) literally depend.  Much of the sixth mass extinction event is caused unnecessarily by conventional agriculture that feeds our addiction to dietary repetition.  ⠀

Ironically, ensuring strawberry fields forever, means strawberry fields but once a year. 



BEGINNER´S MIND: What does strawberry fields forever mean to YOU?

 Any Beatles fans out there?  

I think the inspiration for the song Strawberry Fields Forever was an orphanage near John Lennon´s home in Liverpool, combined with his need to make sense of his less than ideal childhood. Right?! Accurate origin aside, Strawberry Fields is a mighty meaningful tune for people across generations around the globe who have never set foot anywhere near Merseyside.  The Beginner´s Mind question I am posing to you in this nature related week inspired by strawberries is…WHY?⠀

Theory One: Your Intuition Knows What the Good Life Is, It´s Primal

Conjure up a mental image of row upon row of strawberry vines running over a vast field and the irresistible scent of lush red berries plumping in the sun and I dare you not to slow down and think….ah, the good life. There is something almost primal about the notion.  It speaks to you as a human, who is a part of nature. It´s not just about the taste, as delicious as strawberries are, it´s about the notion that surrendering to the flow of nature is all we can do and somehow, when we do, it will all work out.  That is now and shall forever more be universal. In the summer, we often give in to the flow because it feels so good.  Seasonal foods anchor us in the moment and connect us, literally, to the pace of the other forms of life which surround us. ⠀

Theory Two: Classics are Classics Because You Can See Things in Them Uniquely Relevant to Your Time

Classics are classics because they are somehow ALWAYS relevant.  That makes them static and dynamic at the same time. Strawberry Fields, forever? Yes please! But in this 21st century world where we are increasingly focused on environmental injustice…how? Porous strawberries are a heavily sprayed mono-crop and typically one of the most toxic crops around. Therein lies the opportunity for change!  How can we produce strawberries differently? How can eating strawberries only seasonally help to tune you into the flow of the life around you? Questions to ponder as you embark upon this week´s ritual.

RITUAL: A Strawberry Meditation

No need for old timey filters, this is me circa 1978. Observant folks may note that my halter top features the tool of our nature related trade this week, the strawberry.  The position of those berries lead me to believe that the word strawberries actually meant boobs. OMG, for some reason (heavily influenced by the glam of Dolly Parton´s weekly variety show) I wanted my strawberries to sprout yesterday. As a 3 year old, I had no choice but to go with the flow. Nature would provide but, it was best for me to let her go at her own pace. 

Thinking about how our bodies develop and decline is a reminder that we too are parts of nature.  It is in our best interest to nurture our bodies, but, ultimately, Mama Nature is pulling the strings. Really, truly, deeply absorbing that is about as nature related as it gets.  

When you punish yourself because you don´t live up to some beauty ideal you feel rubbish.  There is only so much you can do to control the size of your ass.  When you accept yourself as nature made you it feels like…FREEDOM! 

If we know accepting ourselves warts and all is the path to well-being,  why do we think trying to control other parts of nature will yield positive results?  But, food security you say? Oh, poo. We CAN ditch mono-cultures and grow with the flow to feed the 9 billion.  Agriculture that aims to control has paved the way to the sixth mass extinction. There are more than a few farms and large scale agro-ecological research projects that provides the evidence to say that we can feed ourselves now and ensure longer term food security by farming following nature´s lead.  That means more crops (and livestock) only seasonally, with smaller yields of each crop and larger overall yields that makes the overall environment more resilient.  

For this approach to work for the market, we need to retrain ourselves to be dedicated seasonal eaters. The more we lean into the joy of how eating seasonally tunes your body into the freedom of seasonal flow, the more we will demand a market that responds to this way of eating. 

Go with the strawberry flow to find the freedom that comes from letting the outside in. You too are nature.

This weekend, go with the strawberry flow. Pick up a seasonal punnet of organic berries.  Sit in an outdoor spot or by an open window with berries in hand.  Take a deep breath and consider the smell of your environment.  Tune into the sounds of nature. Pause and consider the feel of the air on your skin.  Notice what trees or flowers are in bloom and at which stage of bloom they are in.  And then, only then, pick up a strawberry, give it a smell and then put it in your mouth and slowly, slowly, slowly consider the taste.  How does the berry make you feel?  Does it trigger any memories?  How does its taste reflect your wider environment? What are you theories about why the different strawberries in your punnet come in different shapes and sizes?  What do you want to remember about this moment?  Do you think that you will recall it when you next eat strawberries next year?  Make an everyday moment special by creating a ritual.  This ritual is crafted to simply help you to value the role of seasonal eating and strawberries to anchor you in a moment and connect you to the world beyond yourself. 

We need to change our mindsets before we can develop new behaviours that support well-being for all. This meditation helps to reinforce the fact that as a human you are a part of nature, constantly in exchange with all other parts of nature.  To experience the mental well being impacts of a nature relatedness practice which evolve into behaviour change in all aspects of your life, deeply absorbing your identity AS nature is essential. Let strawberries show you the way.