Next time, I’m going to come back as a cat. Cats seem to have it sorted, don’t appear to get stressed, always have enough money and don’t worry about big issues such as the environment. While we, on the other hand, are currently grappling with what is probably the most complex issue we’ve ever had to deal with. You can’t switch on the radio or the TV or open a newspaper without being harangued, pilloried and scared to death about the Big Subject: how are we going to save the planet?
I’m not suggesting the environment isn’t important. After all, I do live in it. It’s just that all my life it seems there’s consistently been a single major issue meant to frighten us to death; one that’s always too big to understand and one to which the commentators and the general public had no real answer, no matter how hard they argued. And interestingly, just as we seem to be getting used to whichever dilemma is flavour of the month and finding some coping mechanisms, another crisis raises its head and we start all over again.
First there was nuclear war. As a child I remember having nightmares, literally, about the prospect of being blown up any second. It didn’t help that I had an over-excited imagination. Sure, it was a major issue but the general discussion down the pub on a Saturday night didn’t exactly provide any solution – even if it did give us something to talk about.
Then there was the imminent demise of our oil supply. I remember sitting in college in the seventies reading that we’d have none left by the end of the millennium and motor vehicles would grind to a halt. We debated it at school and my nightmares of nuclear holocaust were replaced with the terror of having to ride my bike in the rain.
Nuclear war then came back, various other conflicts kept us occupied and then more latterly we’ve been handed terrorism and, of course, the environment – a subject so complex it’d need a blackboard the size of the planet just for the scientists on which to write their formulae. But then again, we know the scientists don’t understand the environment and why we’re getting global warming. In fact their ignorance and disagreements are the only certainties. And therefore it beggars belief that someone who’s not even a scientist can tell you not to use your 4×4, which you only may use once a week, reckoning that such self control can save us from the prospect of vineyards and olive groves on the banks of the River Tees.
It seems that we, as a race, need something to worry about that’s too big to actually comprehend. Maybe we should be more like our cat. She worries about nothing, spends most of her day sleeping and spends the rest of it out in her larder, which we call the garden, ensuring she gets a healthy balanced diet. She spends hours staring at her potential meal, studying it, watching its every move until there’s little doubt that she knows more about her food than we know about ours.
And that’s the crux of this rambling; if we can’t even begin to understand how to control our diet in a natural and balanced way, how on earth, and the phrase seems rather appropriate, can we begin to consciously change our environment? It’s this desire to understand what we’re eating that made us at Oldfields, as a restaurant company, decide to rear our own animals and source others direct from farms, taking an interest in their development.
While not suggesting we all switch to a diet of rabbits, voles, spiders and robins, I do recommend taking a leaf out of the cat’s book and getting to grips with understanding about what we eat. Maybe once we’ve got that sorted, but only then, we could then concentrate on battling it out with nature.
So with that in mind, I’m now off to the paddock to stare at our restaurant’s future meat dishes and see what I can learn.
Previously published in The Northern Echo