The title sounds like the starting point for an article on how to explore the Amazon while avoiding piranha, or maybe eating puffer fish in Japan without suffering terminal nerve damage.
However, we could take it differently and think about how we can live bravely by looking out for our planet rather than our personal lifestyles, and how we can help keep the world safe for future generations. Maybe we could try that one!
It takes courage to think differently
It takes a bit of courage in the modern western world to say you aren’t ambitious, you don’t need lots of money, you aren’t interested in an investment portfolio and you don’t feel the urge to go to a different foreign country every year in order to live your life to the fullest. In fact it takes more courage than most of us have to decide to live life outside the fast lane, or at least off the usual path.
Most of us can only partly take on the risks of being activists and trend-setters with an eye for our global future – after all, we do have the practical problems of paying the rent and feeding the kids.
But we can do a few things that demonstrate a bit of bravery and may contribute to both our families’ ongoing safety, and the planet’s. And every bit counts.
We don’t even need to leave home to do it, really. Sometimes bravery starts by deciding what not to do, and it can be as hard, or sometimes harder, than going out and doing or buying something new.
It might involve time, or the risk of being disapproved of, or your life not looking like everyone else’s life. We’re social creatures, who like to fit in, and that’s what makes some kinds of bravery difficult.
This isn’t going to be an exhortation to live for a year without buying anything new, or to make your own clothes from flax that you’ve grown in the back yard and processed and spun yourself (though good luck if you’d like to!). It’s simply about food.
Making brave food decisions
Why is there anything brave about food, you may ask. Well, many of us have lost track of what food really is, where it comes from, and what the real costs are. If we start to look, we might start to feel uneasy. And we might feel the need to make some changes.
There’s been a lot of publicity about the endless, wasteful packaging that supermarket food afflicts us with, the huge transport costs involved in getting some of our food from the point of production to the place we buy it, and the doubtful safety of some products (remember the scandal about catching hepatitis from imported frozen berries?).
Getting around this involves a number of possibilities, all requiring a little bit of bravery. Sometimes it’s the bravery to divert financial resources away from other aspects of modern life and into buying the best food we can – stuff that’s produced locally rather than transported, and grown in healthy conditions.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to do that. But, there are some alternatives, ranging from growing some of your own food if you have a little bit of space, to making the decision that you’re going to at least cook all your own food rather than relying on processed and pre-packaged stuff. This option, while needing time and dedication, might actually save money!
And it means you can certainly start living more safely – not just from the point of view of avoiding contaminated food, but by being in control of exactly what you’re eating. If you make it yourself, you know what’s gone into it. And if you’ve grown it yourself, you can do it organically and know that it isn’t sprayed, it is fresh, and it’s likely to have a good nutrient level.
You can also make the brave decision (brave because to begin with you may well have to fight off loud protests from your children) to take charge of the nature of your diet. You can cut the sugar content in half (or down to almost nothing if you want to); you can make at least some of your main meals vegetarian; you can remove all the stuff that has palm oil in it, as your contribution to stopping the destruction of rainforests.
It’s all up to you really, and you can extend your reach gradually, as you start to feel braver! Your family’s health may even start to improve, as you make braver and safer food decisions.
And just in case you feel threatened at the prospect of cooking from scratch, especially focusing on vegetables rather than meat as the main attraction, here are a few simple recipes as a starting point.