(I wrote this post about a week ago and finally got around to putting the finishing touches on it today...Enjoy!)
I've been thinking this morning about aquaponics. Which is pretty typical for me, I guess. I just about use all of my excess mental capacity thinking about growing things. Mushrooms, chickens, goats, fish, plants, rabbits, bees...they are on my mind constantly. The thoughts for this morning were aquaponics, compost, and redworms.
I give people tours of my aquaponics system constantly. It’s funny to see the looks on peoples faces when I give a demonstration of my “experiments”. You can instantly tell whether or not they are on board with the organic movement just by the look on their face. It's either awe or disgust. To be fair, I do some pretty strange stuff. This may come as a shock to the aquaponic community, but normal people don't keep 4,000 redworms in a box in their garage to compost all their kitchen scraps, raise maggots to feed the fish and chickens they are keeping in the backyard, or have a preoccupation with (legal) mushrooms that causes them to shake with excitement whenever the prospect of foraging arises. This last Tuesday I was being interviewed by a couple of high-schoolers for their school newspaper. As I was answering questions, I pulled out my redworm bin and began to dig around, looking for a condensed population of the little guys to show off. "Eeew!" was the response. The female half of the group didn’t even want to look. (girls…)
This was one of those times where I realized I’m not exactly “normal”. In their eyes, I’m digging around a giant box full of worm poop. Without gloves, might I add (hey, that’s why God made our hands water-proof, so we could wash them afterward, right?) Even my aquaponics system, which is my pride and joy, is powered by fish waste. My entire life’s goals, my future career, and everything I’ve been working for…It’s all powered by garbage!
But what's even more interesting is that waste actually excites me! Not the waste itself, but the potential it holds to become something useful. I’ve worked with this kind of stuff for so long that not only does it not bother me, but I actually enjoy it. When normal people look at food refuse, they see it as something gross, something that needs to be packed up in a plastic bag at arms length and made to disappear by a garbage truck. When I see compost, I immediately want to run my hands through it, pick it apart, and sort it amongst my various methods of disposal. This goes to the chickens…this can go to the grubs…the worms won’t like this, so off to the compost pile. And so on and so forth.
It makes me kinda sad that that’s not considered normal. I am a strong believer in cleanliness and order. And washing your hands. Yes, let it be known that I DO wash my hands after handling garbage. But I also think that this thing we call life… is just messy, and to turn up your nose at any form of mess and instead running to the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer, holding your nose as you go, is to disconnect yourself with life. Why do you think they call dirt "earth"? It is the essence of our planet! Decaying matter has a role in our world, and to think that you can life a lifestyle without ever having to experience it has always come off as rather snobbish to me. Everything has a purpose, our world has been designed to work the way it does for a reason. And I think the healthiest way to live is to understand that nothing that is natural is “below” you, even if it is underneath you :) This is just off the top of my head and I haven’t really thought all the implications of this statement through, but the organic movement seems to be built off of waste. I don’t know when it happened, but for me dirt just kind of stopped being “dirty” and instead became good clean “earth”. And just maybe that’s the definition of becoming organic.