A few weeks ago, I wrote my first "This Week in Moderation" post. The idea was that I was going to write a weekly post about how we can all watch, read, or listen to some of the ideas that influence my thinking on Moderation... or my re-defining / re-calibrating / re-thinking of moderation in the world. Folks... that didn't last long. But whatever... you do what you can, right?
Since that last post, I've consumed so much content that it's really difficult to summarize what I've been taking in. Here in the US, we've dealt with a ton in the political arena... almost too much to write about in a prescient blog post. In lieu of that, I'd rather bring your attention to a video put out by Patagonia. In the aforementioned post, I referenced an interview with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard because I found his view of the world and business to be extremely balanced. You can tell he's very thoughtful in his actions and words and this becomes apparent in a video I saw called "Unbroken Ground."
Unbroken Ground is not a new video... or a new project... but dammit it's new to me and in purely statistical terms, it's probably new to you. It documents Patagonia's foray into food by partnering with food sourcing organizations that practice "Regenerative Agriculture."
What does this have to do with Moderation?!
The reason why this relates to Moderation, as I talk about it, is Regenerative Agriculture's insistence upon diversity: crop diversity, genetic diversity, diversity of customers, diversity of sources, diversity of environment. It makes the argument that sustainable agriculture requires diversity. And, implicit in that argument is that the nature and the processes within nature are resilient because of that diversity.
My argument for true moderation is that to be a practitioner of Moderation, one must consciously or unconsciously mimic nature by trying to maximize the value that comes from a certain tension - Optimizing Tension. Our modern agricultural system (for reasons I can empathize with like risk mitigation and profit maximization) has gotten away from a necessary push-pull balance with nature. In the current agricultural model, there is no desire to coexist with the tension... rather, it is a model built upon mitigating or obliterating the tension (i.e. Chemicals, processes, supply chains, etc). The "Moderate Model" states that we, as natural beings, must trust that we are resilient and made better through diverse inputs and stimuli. Diversity is good and necessary for growth.
This Regenerative Agriculture movement stresses just that. These farmers and ranchers are leveraging the diversity that exists in the natural world in a symbiotic way. They seek to benefit from it as well as leave the world a better place. Unknowingly, these good folks are also practicing the three other areas of moderation by:
1. Being honest (about science, the environment, and the state of the Ag industry);
2. Having compassion for the planet as well as compassion (or at least understanding) as to how "we" got here; and,
3. Putting firm boundaries in place about how to grow and harvest their crop.
A quote that perfectly sums up the film and ethos (I believe) is from Stephen Jones, PhD, of The Bread Lab.
If you go through life not embracing the complexity, then you're not really trying. It's a bit lazy, right? To just accept what's handed to us... and there's no better example than food.
Please give this film 25 minutes of your time, it'll be well worth it.
I believe I also need to put a disclaimer up. I do not get paid by Patagonia and I'm not an ambassador. I haven't received any clothes or backpacks from them nor have I received any Patagonia Provisions food. I do however respect the hell out of the company and Mr. Chouinard. I don't own much Patagonia. My wife bought me a couple of hats for Christmas that I love and that's it. As an outdoorsman, I wouldn't say no to them if they approached me about an ambassadorship but that's not the point. I'm so impressed with that they stand for that it might actually be awhile before I purchase one of their products because (at their insistence) I've taken to mending my own clothes. I've paired down my wardrobe significantly and have taken up sewing and repairing pieces of clothing that have fallen into disrepair. If this becomes too much, then one day I might purchase some shorts or a shirt but, until then... I'm good.