Monday, July 06, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table -- Food

I appreciate the comments on the last post regarding Living Deliberately and Money. So many of you comment on Facebook, I wonder if you realise I actually haven't been on facebook for over a year, and this is actually a post on our blog! But I do get and appreciate the comments, all the same.

I relate so much to D and T, who both related to how living a transplanted lifestyle makes simplifying life and belongings a lot more... easier? necessary? A little of both, I suppose. Moving to a different country is one of those things where you do begin to realise you are not defined by your possessions. We don't collect much unnecessary junk. We don't buy lots of things, because we realise we'll just have to get rid of most of it again when we leave here. Any spending decisions are truly intentional - is this worth shipping back to the states?

I love that T brought up her intentional choice not to have a TV. We're the same. I think it's been so good and I highly recommend not having one, at least for a while, especially at the beginning of a marriage. That is such a magnificent, underrated way to simplify life, begin to establish what is important to you, and think about spending your time intentionally instead of letting it get sucked away by the wires.
Biggest Kitchen Table -- Food
Today's discussion is on food. I am intimidated to start this blog post, because I want to keep it short, and food is probably the one subject I think the most about. There is so much to say! So I think I will focus on my accomplishments in this area in the past year or so, and my goals for the next year or so.

Things I am glad I've changed in the last year:

  • I've begun growing! I have my two tomato plants, and lots of spinach. I planted lettuce but the aphids enjoyed those and as such I have had to abandon them. I'm doing it the good old fashioned way without chemicals.
  • I've learned to like: mushrooms, tomatoes, plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, green olives, balsamic vinegar. (I know, I know, how could I not like those things before?)
  • We make lots more homemade.
  • I make our breakfast granola. I feel like this improves my day so much! I love doing this!
  • Read Nourishing Traditions. I've started applying her ideas more to our cooking and eating. She really gives convincing arguments for fermentation, sprouting seeds/beans, etc.
  • We cook mostly everything from scratch.
  • We buy local a lot more, and are a lot more conscientious when it comes to this. It's fairly easy to do here, besides the issue of citrus. I definitely draw the line when it comes to foods from south africa or south america; that's pretty much the furthest away you get here. We can get everything we need from the UK or Spain at the furthest. Except limes.
Goals - in the next year or as soon as possible:
  • Clean and reorganise our cupboard. It's shameful, really. Full of all the pots/cooking things, as well as all our grains/cans/pasta/flour/etc. So haphazard.
  • Defrost our fridge. I don't even want to talk about why we have to defrost our fridge. Sometime I think I'll do a post on our fridge, to show you what we have to work with here. It has about 3 cubic inches of space. I'm exaggerating just a little.
  • Try growing a couple new vegetables. I expect that during the next growing season, we'll be living with the parents. My growing capacity will still be limited although I will have a lot more outdoor space, at least for pots.
  • Grow garlic
  • Buy predominately organic dairy products
  • Research & start composting. It's just impossible in this flat, but I'm trying to research a bit more and figure out what would be feasible to do once we leave this place.
Future goals - long term:
  • Use open-pollinated / heirloom seeds. In other words, the way our grandparents used to grow things. Keep the same seeds from the same produce year after year. The books Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore's Dilemma convinced me of this. I might start this with tomatoes next year.
  • Grow zucchini/courgette, more tomatoes, rhubarb, beans, squashes, onions, garlic, cabbage, lots more veg.
  • Learn more about taking care of soil.
I think I'll cut it short from here. Food is one of those subjects that I can go on and on about. I think many of you are passionate about it as well. Let's keep encouraging each other and learning from each other in this area! A few of us have become fairly proficient at living in a small place while still trying to live within our morals when it comes to food and food systems.


Lisa said...

Hi Heather -

Once you get back to the states you may want to join a CSA community!

We're trying it out this year and it's been a challenge figuring out what to do with things like beets, kale and kohlrabi, but I love that we're eating all these local, in-season vegetables and supporting a farm nearby!

With neither Ben nor I a greenthumb and no yard besides, this is definitely an efficient alternative to growing our own food :)

tanita davis said...

We belong to a CSA when we are at home, and we had a garden, before we left. Miss that a lot.

We haven't yet read any of the newest spate of books on food and eating, but have read Michal Pollan essays from the newspaper. He has a lot of wise input. Food is one of those subjects to which people have transferred a lot of moral weight. We find that some of the trends and fads in eating and allegedly being mindful and organic actually cost a lot more than plain old gardening and eating locally. Putting things up is such a great idea, but isn't cost effective unless you do in with a bunch of friends -- maybe someday we'll find that kind of community. In the meantime, it's good to think ahead and plan for how you want to feed yourself and what you value in the many messages swirling around out there. It can be kind of tricky. Not all of us are cut out to be farmers or growers, but all of us have to eat. I guess it's important to listen to all the rest with filters on and decide for yourself.
"But I am gradually coming to an awareness that hunger is holy. We're meant to be hungry every day and to satisfy that hunger every day. Why else would the first petition in the Lord's Prayer be for daily bread, even before divine assistance?" ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

DaviMack said...

One thing that we vowed, when we gardened: we would grow nothing that we could easily obtain at the grocery store. That meant we were growing things like the Rouge Vif d'Etamps pumpkin (looks like a cinderella pumpkin, and has been bred just for soups), the Ronde de Nice zucchini (softball-sized zucchini, they last about a day after harvest, if that, but all they need is a bit of a sear & some salt), or black tomatoes. Heirloom Russian watermelon. Chioggia Striped Beats. Basically - strange, fun things! It's really the only way to do it, because it makes the garden such a surprise!

As to the fridge: we know. We understand. How's about when you get back to the "real world" and have a decent clothes washer again? One which will hold more than 4 shirts and a pair of jeans? Sigh.

Best wishes, as you plan for the chaos and upheaval.

Beth said...

Heather...finally reading through your blog. The organic baby cookbook you gave us is awesome. I LOVE it! It's an easy read, packed with valuable and convincing facts. THANK YOU! Finding fresh, local and organic produce in Waco is a challenge, but this book has given me some tools to work with.

On another note...the first comment from Lisa (on this post) made me chuckle...kohlrabi!! A staple in the our Ehli family. :-) Grandma was just talking about it a few days ago. Grandpa's garden is awesome and he boasts with good reason about his organic fruits and veggies. Miss you!!