Hi everyone! This is Mischa here. It’s been four months since Danielle and I landed in St Johns after cycling 8000 km across Canada and only now have we been able to truly reflect and begin to grasp the impact that this trip has had on our lives.
Here are three things that we learned that have fundamentally changed the way we think about the world and how we operate in it. People want to help, travel light and food connects us to everything.
People want to help. I grew up in a home where the news was on all the time. I watched and listened as news reporters talked of murder, scandal, genocide and environmental degradation. This constant focus on the negative aspects of our world contributes to cynicism, insecurity and a lack of trust in people. Our trip reversed this view of the world for us. We realized that people are incredibly generous and compassionate. People want to help. Cycling across Canada was the most challenging thing we have ever done and along the way Danielle and I encountered times when we depended on the support of strangers to continue. Storms, bike malfunctions, extreme fatigue, and lack of shelter were challenges we faced throughout the trip. Time and time again strangers took us in, picked us up, cooked for us, and encouraged us along the way. We realized that people love helping others, it gives them a sense of purpose and they feel as though they are part of something bigger than themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because people love helping others.
Travel light. Packing for our trip was tough. The night before our trip a friend and experienced cyclist looked at all of our gear and clothes piled on my bed and said “cut that in half. That’s what you should take.” That was tough to hear, we had already cut our packing list in half, we thought we were down to the bare essentials. But as we began to ride we quickly learned that the more you have the slower you travel, the more energy you spend, and the more stress your stuff creates. We got rid of things that were not essential and tightened our bags considerably; using only rear panniers. We travelled farther, faster; passing cyclists burdened with huge panniers and trailers. Setting up and breaking down camp was a breeze. Life became so much more enjoyable, and there were less distractions. Since we have been home we realized that this is true in life. Our stuff slows us down, demands our attention, money and energy and often creates stress and distracts us from what is truly important. This trip has taught us to live light, for our sake and that of the environment, because the things we own often end up owning us.
Food connects us to everything. As Dani and I cycled across Canada we played two major roles; that of speaker and facilitator presenting on food security, and that of student, learning as much as we could about people’s relationship with food. We compared and contrasted our industrialized food system with smaller local food production in the areas we delivered Seed by Seed programming. Our goal was to introduce and connect our audience with local sustainable food projects. The more we learned about food the more we learned of its integral role in our society. Food connects us with everything. In a time where more than half the world’s population lives in cities, food is the most immediate link to the natural environment, as it’s grown right out of the ground. Not only does food connect us to the environment but it also connects us to each other. It connects babies to their mothers, children to their parents, people to their community, communities to their culture. Every time we sat down with a new group of people it was around a meal where we shared stories, talked about the world and were just interested in each other. Dani and I quickly realized food was a key ingredient binding humanity together. Food inevitably connects us to some of the most pressing environmental and social justice issues of our time. When you begin to study the back stories of our food; how it was grown, shipped, processed, stored and consumed, you start to realize that our food system is responsible for so many of the challenges we face today around the world. Poverty, racism, food insecurity, child labour, climate change are just a few of the many issues that are exacerbated by the inefficiencies of our food system. Consequently, if our diets are creating these problems then they can also be part of the solution. This is at the heart of Seed by Seed’s mission; to educate people to eat with purpose and eat with Impact. We can choose our food in a way that aligns and supports our values and gives us a platform to take a stand on issues we are passionate about.
Dani and I are so grateful to everyone who supported us on this bicycle adventure. Our mission and that of Seed by Seed is to “Pay it Forward” and to work towards a more just and healthy world by advancing our understanding of the role food plays in our heath, community and natural environment. Stay tune as we continue to strengthen the relationship between schools, communities and local sustainable food initiatives and educate youth and their families to make sustainable food choices.
Until next time,