Looking for the next thrill: adrenaline seeking behaviour and the demise of farming

Looking for the next thrill: adrenaline seeking behaviour and the demise of farming

We live in a society of adrenaline junkies. We are all looking for our next rush, be it from video games, tv shows, our jobs, drama at work or home, sex, drugs or rock ‘n roll. This addictive behaviour is being fed by modern society. As the next rush always needs to be bigger than the previous one we are falling over ourselves to get the latest, newest, greatest, or create bigger and bigger dramas.

I come from a background of top sport. This is high adrenaline, especially as my sport involved speed (snow ski racing). Looking back on my life after skiing, I now realise I have always been after the next “rush”. I still am, and get my adrenaline jolt from performing music, watching intense movies and caffeine.

Coffee and cakeCaffeine is a standard adrenal pumper, and we are getting more and more addicted to it. Look at all the cafe’s, 20 years ago it was hard to find somewhere to just have a cup of tea or coffee, now you find them everywhere. As an added bonus the cafe’s usually sell cakes and other sweets as well, so we can get the double whammy for the adrenals! If you look at it that way, cafe’s are just glorified drug suppliers… Don’t get me wrong, I love our cafe culture, I really enjoy having a cuppa and cake in a nice cafe. But even though we think we are relaxing having that cake and cuppa, our bodies are actually running in overdrive.

Adrenal fatigue, although not recognised by conventional medicine, seems to be a huge issue now. People burn out, snap or crash. Chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and lethargy are all part of an enormous list of symptoms. There are a number of stages of adrenal fatigue with symptoms varying from plain tiredness to complete incapacitating exhaustion and everything in between. They commonly refer to the symptoms as “stress induced”, which of course it is. And yet, people keep stressing themselves out with caffeine, stimulating entertainment and whatever else they can find to get that adrenaline boost. I do it myself. And as the adrenals get more exhausted we need more stimulating substances and/or activities to keep the rushes coming…

A few years ago in my son’s class they asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. A large percentage of the boys wanted to join the army. To shoot things. I guess that would have to be to shoot people, as I don’t think they shoot at things all that often. This sort of behaviour is bred by the adrenaline addiction. Another rush. A similar rush as what they would get from violent computer games or movies for example. Hardly any kids (if any at all) say they would like to be a farmer. Because what is exciting about farming right? It is a lot of hard physical work and not much adrenaline producing activities. Lots of routines, chores and same same… Why would anyone want to become a farmer? Especially in this “achiever” society, where everyone needs to achieve, be better, wealthier, smarter than the next person. Farming is seen to be boring and a job for a poor person. A farmer (and this is the person that grows your food!!!) is still seen to be a “lower class” individual in a lot of places on earth. In the past kids would do whatever their parents did, and they would spend their entire childhood learning. Especially hand crafts, like building, farming etc. These jobs are not jobs, they are life long careers and take a life to learn.

Tom and Zaia shovel cow manure from the biodigester pit
Tom shovelling the last of the manure out of the biodigester pit

Farming does not give you a regular adrenaline rush, it is not well respected and you won’t get rich or famous. A lot of the work is tedious, and even if it is not, it is a lot of bloody hard physical work. And in this “sitting” society, nobody wants to do work where you are on your feet pushing, pulling, lifting and squatting all day. They would prefer to do that at the gym for an hour or so. Because nobody wants to do that work anymore, big Ag businesses are buying up all the farms, and food growing has become an industry. An industry that is doomed to fail, as quality of anything seems to decrease with quantity. And the focus of any industry is quantity. And so the demise of our farmers becomes the demise of our food.

I guess that in order for us to stop and smell the compost, we have to change this adrenaline seeking behaviour in us. We can do this by limiting our screen / device time and getting outside. Going for walks, feeling the grass, dirt or sand under our feet and starting to grow our own food in our kitchens, gardens, balconies, courtyard and community gardens! Rekindle appreciation for this amazing thing called soil, as it is rapidly depleting and we cannot live without it! We are addicted to our screens, phones, iPads, computers and tvs, because the interaction with these stress inducing devices increases adrenaline in the body. Being outside and in touch with nature will decrease the stress induced by these devices.
Next we need to decrease caffeine and sugar intake. Apart from pushing the adrenaline up it also plays havoc with blood sugar and can cause all sorts of problems, physical and mental. Being outside and getting dirty in the soil seems to have a calming influence on the body and mind. A lot of people practice mindful meditation to attain this peace and calm, but it can also be achieved by working with and being close to nature. This will settle the stress down and make you able to breathe again…

We have to ask ourselves who we want to grow our food in 10 or 20 years time. Do we really want to rely on big business to look after our nutrition and the health of our soil? Or do we want to encourage small scale organic farming by farmers who want to be not just sustainable, but would like to leave the place they farm a better place than when they started? It is time to place our small organic, sustainable farmers on a pedestal, speak so highly of them to our children that our kids don’t just want to be farmers, they want to grow the best, most nutritious and flavoursome food in the world, all while improving the soil and working with nature’s wisdom. To have a world full of people whose dream it is to sustainably grow healthy food will be the greatest achievement of all!

©2016 Zaia; diyfoodandhealth.com, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading, Looking for the next thrill, adrenaline seeking behaviour and the demise of farming


  1. Farmers are seen as upper middle class in Britain – probably because they own land. Their livelihood has been destroyed for various reasons and that would certainly put a lot of people off.

    I’m horrified that so many of the boys in your son’s class wanted to be soldiers. How old were these boys? I wonder if the boys in my daughter’s class would say the same?

    1. Hi Helen,
      The boys were 12 and 13 years old. Yes, it is frightening, I hope they will grow out of it! Maybe by then sustainable farming will be the “in thing” 🙂

  2. Well said, Zaia. ❤️

  3. Beautifully written article. I raised my son (17) without TV or video games but he still wants to be a tech-head. I keep telling him I don’t want him to live in a box! Yesterday while coding on his laptop he asked if we could go to the community garden. He knows Earthing makes him feel happy. I still have hope that he will become a farmer. I tell him it is the most distinguished position. Farmers ought to be celebrated!

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