"Cummins leaned forward over his paper-strewn desk and told me about a poet who had been walking along the beach one morning at low tide. The poet saw thousands and thousands of starfish that had been stranded on the shore, baking in the sun. If they were left on the beach surely they would die. In the distance, he saw a boy sifting through the sand on the beach. The boy would stoop down, pick up a starfish, and throw it back into the sea. When the poet reached the boy, he said, 'What are you doing? You can't save them all!' The boy knelt down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the ocean, and said, 'I saved that one.' And he did it again. 'Saved that one.' And again. One by one, until soon the poet joined the boy, and together they saved as many starfish as they could.
"That's how people who make a difference think and live."
I found this today as I was reading a parenting book, and it struck me as a good explanation for why I'm still trying to eat as locally and sustainably as I can. No, I can't singlehandedly change the food system in this country - or even in this town. But by choosing to buy local/organic/sustainable products whenever I can, at least I'm doing something. It's not as obvious as throwing a starfish back into the ocean, but when I drive past the vegetable lady's house or the farm market where we shop in the summer, I think to myself, "Helped that one."