"Allot" to be said for return to natural modes of living

Kudos is due this week to one of the newest kids on Westmeath"s political block, Cllr. Peter Burke, for encouraging Westmeath County Council to encourage people to engage in self-sufficiency by providing suitable land for allotments.It has been brought up before at various public meetings in Mullingar - most recently by former Mullingar town councillors and Pat Whelan and Betty Doran - but it appears that the Council is finally beginning to take notice of the 'green revolution' taking place in Ireland.The world is changing, and that"s just not a token Obamaesque soundbite. At the moment, Western industrial society as we have known it for decades is crumbling. This historic shift has only been exacerbated by the global financial meltdown, and the concurrent worldwide recession.One of the major changes being brought about by this historic crossroads is the way people approach their health and well-being, and particularly their dietary habits.In reality, it was inevitable with our without the recession or any macro-economic earthquakes, for the simple reason that a society which 'nourishes' itself on chemical-laden, mass-produced garbage is unsustainable.People across Ireland are beginning to latch onto this - hence the recent glut of 'grow your own' programmes on television. The media has copped on to public demand - even though this positive is cancelled out by the fact that television in particular makes millions from advertising mass-produced rubbish.When the subject of allotments came up at Mullingar Town Council early last year, Westmeath County Council had little reply.But last Monday, when the issue was brought to the table once again, they sang from a different hymnsheet.We are told that the Westmeath County Development Board has an 'action in its new Action Plan' under Social Inclusion Measures 'to investigate the possibility of providing allotments to communities and families to grow their own vegetables, eat healthier and be more active'.This swing in favour of a demand for allotments, and for self-sufficiency in general, is a positive move by Westmeath County Council.It shows that local government in Westmeath is beginning to recognise the need for people to get back to basics, and to encourage their children to get to know more natural modes of living and eating - instead of the bottom of a bottle of Coke, or a bag of crisps.With Irish society having gorged itself on mass-produced tripe over the past fifteen years, it"s no wonder that swine flu is on the march, obesity is prevalent, or different forms of cancers are on the rise.We"ve heard a lot of 'recession busting' initiatives since early last year, but most them are purely profit-driven enterprises cloaked in alluring language, or fads to keep quangos busy.But getting people back to the land - which sustained the Irish people throughout history - is the most positive suggestion out there, and any politician who encourages it deserves to be supported.With the twin nightmares of the HSE and 'medical science' throwing up new howlers every day, it"s time that people recaptured control of their own health.The Irish social and economic theorist, Fr. Vincent McNabb, once wrote: 'The area of production should be as far as possible co-terminous with the area of consumption. The utilitarians were wrong in saying that "things should be produced where they can be most economically produced". The true principle is: things should be produced where they can be most economically consumed.'What he meant was that when it comes to nutrition (or indeed, any form of produce), a society which puts mass production and profit ahead of quality and local produce is one which cannot be sustained.Such wisdom was innate to our grandparents and great-grandparents; not so to us, it would seem.Natural living, and natural eating, also says a lot not just about a person"s outlook on life, but also their awareness of personal freedom and property.The Irish have always had a deep pride in their 'own patch', and unfortunately, we seemed to lose sight of that during the 'Celtic Tiger' era, as much as we lost sight of healthy modes of living.There"s a smell of revolution in the air, and thankfully, it"s starting in the back garden.