Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still Growing Up...

Chris Bangs circa 1976

The Empowerment of Local Organic Food

By Chris Bangs

Growing up on a small organic farm in Missoula Montana is one of the luckiest things I can imagine in the United States. So sure I was born lucky, but does that make living in this country at this time any easier for me that it does for you? 

The answer is no. No it’s not an easy time to be living in this country. We are currently smack dab in the middle of political, international, and personal chaos. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are at epidemic proportions, and the system is as foul and corrupt as ever. In fact the system right now is in the business of keeping people sick, scared, and un-empowered.

So what do we do that can make a difference, and what did I do to start a peaceful revolution in my own life?  The answer boiled down to something on two wheels that could promote and raise money for local organic farming across the country. 

The birth of Human-Powered Mountaineers Inc. was born. It was my way to take everything I have done in my life, (organic gardening, cycling, skiing, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and talking to the trees) and combine it into one huge project to shake up the world that I live in. 

Being a human-powered mountaineer is far from easy. It’s intense, dangerous, and at times; just plain brutal. But look at the world around us. Is anything easy anymore? Sure all the ease and convenience around us is nice, but is it really helping us out and securing a future for our kids and generations to come?

Once again, the answer is no. No we are not securing a future for our kids, and yes this is a tough thing to stomach. So what do we do about it? What do we do when we feel helpless to change the system? We start gardening, buying local organic food, join a co-op, (or start one in your town if there is not one there), work on a community garden, and ride your bike as much as possible.

For me, food is the central issue in our lives. Food, air, and water are the three most basic needs for survival. Yet food is up to us. How it’s cultivated, prepared, cared for and eaten. Air and water already exists, but it is food that effect the rest. How we prepare and grow food (or the choice we make when we buy food; organic vs. non organic) effects the quality of the air we breath and quality of the water we drink. Supporting Local Organic Food in my opinion is the single most import thing you can do to empower yourself, your community, and undermine the big bad system that most of us feel helpless against. 

In my experience over the last 10 years of going on self supported mountaineering expeditions. The most important thing that I have learned to keep myself feeling healthy, strong, and motivated; is paying attention to the foods that I eat. And make no mistake about it; I learned the hard way, and I have suffered what I call a food crash many times before I really figured it out. 

I wasn’t always an extreme athlete, living on an organic plant-based diet. But my travels and adventures taught me so much about the importance of sustained nutrition; especially on a 4 month long human-powered endurance challenge. Where in 2011 my wife and I rode our bicycles from Bozeman Montana all the way to the world famous Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia. What made this trip so amazing wasn’t the 15 technical rock climbing routes that we completed. It was the organic farms that we stopped at each day to buy our food. We were shopping with a machete, outside in the fields, and supporting local organic farmers, (and making some great friends along the way). So be an empowered human, and support local organic food as much as you can. 

Chris Bangs is the owner of Human-Powered Mountaineers Inc.. He holds a Ph.D. in Ski Bumming from The State of Alaska, and earned his Masters Degree in Dirt Bag Rock Climbing from the Hidden Valley Institute in Joshua Tree California. He now lives in Bozeman Montana.

Christopher and Melissa; at home in Missoula 1976

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