Updated: Jan 18
Sustainability is the buzzword nowadays.
But what does it really mean to be sustainable and more importantly, what practical habits can we adopt to make this a part of our lifestyles?
It can sometimes be confusing for consumers who are looking for a healthier and more environmentally-friendly way of living. Ecological products or food can be expensive or difficult to come by in certain areas. The marketing for health products can also be misleading if people are not well-educated about what it means to be truly healthy and sustainable. We want to bring a bit of greenery into our lives but how do we do it in a way that is efficient and not energy-draining?
We spent a beautiful day with Leanne Butler and Cardia Forsyth of Grow Sustainable Living at Toms Creek who are on a quest for a new way of living that is in harmony with the environment around them.
They go beyond merely romanticising the idea of keeping things natural. They look honestly at the difficulties and challenges of making the change - how they can make this change doable and accessible to their community. They are also big on education and they are incredibly generous souls who want to share their knowledge with others in the community.
After a day with Leanne and Cardia, we felt inspired to soak up more information and make some changes to how we live, not to mention pick up an amazing recipe for the most delicious chocolate cake ever!
CONVERSATION WITH LEANNE BUTLER
(While trying not to get distracted by the all-natural super-healthy moist chocolate cake sitting on a plate…)
Sustainability is Exciting
Everything here is about sustainable living. At Toms Creek, we have a natural environment that entices people to stay for hours and for people to visit and enjoy the disconnect from their usual pace surrounded by nature.
We are really excited about people learning from our team of experts about sustainable practices such as beekeeping, permaculture, and creating plant-based food at our workshops. This is where people can come and learn about a new way of living and eating.
We are creating an outdoor kitchen so we can conduct demonstrations and teach people how to prepare healthy food such as everyday dishes and botanical cocktails made from natural plants around them, and also for those with a sweet tooth, we can also do some baking and desserts. People can come for a morning or afternoon to see for themselves how to make different foods, enjoy a tasting, and take home some products.
We want to encourage people to grow their own produce, like making a winter harvest soup from your very own vegetables in the ground or enjoying cake that is not just a treat but good for you. All natural, all healthy and you know exactly where it comes from and what goes into it.
Making a Change
People are more health-conscious nowadays but it is a challenge to stick to a healthy diet and choose healthy food. Say 'health food' and what comes to mind is denial. I will scream if I see another protein ball. It's not a very effective way to get people interested in eating healthy. I believe there has to be another way to eat healthily and still enjoy it.
One of our chocolate cakes is made from pureed chickpeas and coconut flour and topped with fresh lavender. The chocolate ganache is made with cocoa, maple syrup, coconut cream - nothing but good ingredients. A power-packed healthy chocolate cake. And delicious to boot.
Eating healthy is not about punishing ourselves and it is not about denial and punishment. You don’t have to follow rules or make sacrifices to enjoy foods that you want, just be flexible and open to changing your thinking. The only compromise we make is thinking laterally and deleting a lot of unnecessary ingredients. When I want to make traditional foods, I consider what ingredients I can use to substitute the gluten, fats and sugar to create dishes that are not only nutritious but look and taste even better than the 'real thing'.
And Making that Change Together
Getting the community and local businesses, producers and artisans involved is key to our idea of sustainability. Provenance is important and it involves getting like-minded people to collaborate. Getting the right people takes patience and time. It is also about the ethos of each business - are they totally sustainable, is everything completely natural, is everything reusable or can be recycled and have they been created with a minimum of production (to save energy). These are questions we have to consider when we think about the partners we would like to have with us on this sustainability journey.
Cost is the other challenge. It would not make much sense putting natural or ecological products out on the market if they are so expensive and exclusive that most people cannot afford it. It is really about making sustainability accessible, not just geographically in terms of where it takes place in the community, but also economically accessible, for us to offer it, and for others to receive it.
Easing into Healthy Eating
For the average person to get started on healthy eating, putting them on a vegan diet can feel like too much of a challenge and the idea is not to put people off or give them the wrong idea about what healthy eating involves.