I have been thinking a lot lately about culture: what the word means, about the culture in our personal lives, and about the culture in our communities. It seems to me that our freedom depends a lot on the culture that we bring into our lives and into the lives of our communities. It’s not something static, a culture of freedom is something that we have to work on consistently for it to have a lasting effect.
word culture is both a noun and a verb, but each use of the word represents the
action we take to make something happen.
Whether working the land to encourage the growth of plants, or other
labors to encourage the growth of our minds and our communities, we are trying
to create an environment that fosters growth and improvement.
think culture is vitally important to creating and maintaining freedom. For an example of the influence that culture
can have, let’s look at culture in food.
Cultures of people have developed and grown throughout the ages as
people lived in groups. Cultures of food
have been around at least as long as groups of people. Cultures of food are things like cheese,
sauerkraut, sourdough breads, and drinks like beer, wine, yogurt, and kefir
water. These cultured foods are created
by hundreds of thousands of microorganisms that occur naturally in our
environment. These microbes (bacteria
and yeasts, mainly) are encouraged to grow on and in the milk, vegetables,
grain, and other foods because their action on the food actually increases the
nutrients available to humans. It also
lengthens the time before the food spoils and even improves the flavor and
texture of the food.
Take milk, for example. Electric refrigeration is only about 100 years old and before it was widely available, fresh milk would spoil after only a few days. Spoilage was caused by micro-organisms that grow on the milk but make people sick when it is consumed. People learned millennia ago that they could control what grew in and on the milk By introducing a specific set of microorganisms, ones they had eaten before and liked, they could encourage the growth of the beneficial microorganisms in the milk, help it to clabber or set, squeeze it and pour off the whey (which is also cultured and beneficial), then age the solids left behind for a flavorful and nutrient rich cheese.
Sauerkraut and sourdough breads are created similarly with the help of these micro-organisms. Cabbage is cut up into shreds and pounded to release its juices. Gluten-containing grains like rye and wheat are ground into meal or flour and a little bit of water is added to the flours. The naturally occurring microbes start to grow over the course of several days and break down the cabbage, creating sauerkraut, and the grains, creating a sourdough “sponge”. In the case of sauerkraut, it just needs to be kept in cool conditions: a basement, root cellar, or refrigerator. Refrigeration isn’t necessary fall-spring in a temperate climate with the right storage. The sourdough is kneaded, allowed to rise, then baked in a hot oven. The sourdough is much more digestible than a handful of raw grains or even flour that is made in to bread and baked in an afternoon. The time that the microbes are given allows them to grow, break down the food, and create rich flavors for us to enjoy.
amazing thing about cultured foods that scientists are now learning is that our
own bodies need these cultures! Not only
do they help break down the food we eat, but once inside of us, many of these
microbes continue to live and reproduce, making it more difficult for harmful
microbes to invade our bodies and make us sick!
The cultures that we make part of our lives, that we internalize, help
us to be healthy! The cultures we nurture
in turn create an environment in us that fosters growth and improvement. This culture also helps us perpetuate freedom. It helps us make freedom last.
cultures of food that are so beneficial for us take as little as 5 minutes a
day to create. So it is with creating a
culture of freedom in our lives. Minutes
spent here and there in our everyday life can create an environment that
fosters growth and improvement in our life, fostering freedom. Finding personal freedom means finding
prosperity, self-reliance, our own educational goals being satisfied, and
achieving satisfying relationships with others.
Take the Challenge: Throughout
the coming week, think about what kind of culture you have created in your
personal life and the kind of culture in the communities you are involved in:
family, work, neighborhood, etc. What
kind of growth have you seen come from your life and from these various
communities? Is it the kind of growth
you want? What have you liked about what
you see? What would you like to see
change? While you are observing the
culture in your life, try some cultured foods, as well! That will really help you internalize the
idea of cultures in our lives!