Thursday, March 26, 2009

day 37: getting real

One of the things we promised ourselves we would do when we moved here is to live more sustainably. In a lot of ways you can't help it - we buy mostly local and compost a lot. But in other ways I am still full of shit.

We had to go to the City yesterday to deal w/ J's stones (he's much better today thank you for your good thoughts) and on the way back we stopped at a Real Grocery Store (ok, not real as in US, but realer than some of the whacked out versions locally) and I went a bit nuts. SWISS CHEESE, CREAMER, TURKEY BACON, BROWNIE MIX) and bought a bunch of stuff. After we left J started telling me how wrong he thought this was, that we are given an opportunity here and when we take the easy way out and buy imported big brand things we are cheating ourselves and the planet. Great. Nothing says guilt like tossing the PLANET into the conversation.

At first I resisted, it's just a treat, we've been living very simply, why can't you just leave me alone but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I only buy these things for momentary pleasure, for comfort, for ease. I am not buying it because it's the right thing to do or because we need any of this stuff. I am doing it because I am conditioned to do it, and because I am conditioned to rationalize that I deserve a treat in some way. That my consumption doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of a dying planet. But at what cost?

So today I made a decision to focus on how to make things instead of buying them, like baking my own bread, making hummus, (they don't have that here anyways so it's not like I'm killing Nebraska in order to have it but what the hell, I found dried garbanzos), making my own refried beans, pasta, growing and then drying my own herbs (anyone know how to dry herbs in a way that they can be preserved?) basically to stop being lazy and to wake up in terms of the opportunity and the reality, that even here we can continue to be blind consumers and if I am going to do that I might as well do it with more hot water and less bugs. And a much more reasonable kitchen.

What do you think? It's certainly harder and not as much fun. It takes longer and makes me work harder. It requires more effort. But this is my chance to get my act together, to put into practice something I feel. The problem is I am lazy. I am lazy and can do the wrong thing because of it.

Having all this time in the jungle makes a girl think harder than sometimes she wishes she had to. I'm not giving up beer though. It's local and they recycle the bottles. I'm drawing the line at beer.

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27 comments:

painted maypole said...

oh, i fall into this trap time and time again in the US

it's just so EASY. and "everyone does it"

give yourself a break, but then start again. I think it's awesome what you're doing

Mad said...

Hang the herbs upside down in bunches somewhere dry. If you have high humidity (and, like duh, jungle), then hang them over your stove. Once dried, crumble them up.

Annie said...

I haven't commented on your blog for an eternity (or most other people's really - sorry) - but I have been following your adventures.

I live in suburban central Florida and have not bought a loaf of bread in well over a month. I bake all our bread and have to tell you that it is incredibly satisfying to do so - to know I baked it, to know exactly what ingredients are in it (and more importantly are NOT in it!).

This weekend I will be undertaking my first tomato growing adventure, and will give the herbs another try.

The satisfaction it gives is worth the extra effort - and for brownies? Make your own girl - no High Fructose Corn Syrup or hydrogenated anything - more than being earth friendly - it'll be 'you' friendly :)

Bon said...

i hear you on this. i figure i need to start, always, with my own massive hypocrisy. yep, probably a dying planet. but if i don't try at all, excuse myself by telling myself China's about to build 7 coal plants so why bother, then i'm an even bigger part of the problem.

i made home-dried herbs by forgetting to water my poor plants. simple yet effective.

motherbumper said...

I try so hard to avoid the convenience and then I do the exact same "treat" justification. It's just made so easy these days to fall in that trap. BUT then, then I get back up, brush it off, and do things the other way (and it's not always hard). Then I'm reminded that making it from scratch always tastes and feels better.

Hetha said...

I hear ya; even my conditioning has been conditioned. I admire you for your effort and honesty. You'll get there, sooner than you probably think. Glad you're drawing the line somewhere and beer is about as good a place to do so.

Janet said...

I like to tell myself that I'm doing my best. But it's bullshit. I'm doing better than a lot of people, yes, but it's nowhere near my best.

If you discover any awesome bread-making tips, will you share?

Wayfarer Scientista said...

hey jen...just saw this pedal powered washing machine and thought of you (http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house/pedal-powered-washing-machine/). and by the way, beer is probably the easiest thing to make yourself! easier then pasta that is :) As for herbs, tie them in a bunch and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place. Hanging them in the sun will casue them to lose their flavor. Beams of the house usually work well. I totally hear you about being lazy & taking the easy route.

Magpie said...

What Mad said about the herbs.

And bread - once you get in the swing of it, bread is easy.

But I think there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence once in a while.

Sierra said...

i haven't bought a store-bought brownie mix in ages, and the last cake mixes i bought were just because i was going to crumble the cake anyway and couldn't justify putting the effort into a made-from-scratch cake just to mess it up. anyway...long story short, they taste SO much better homemade. and really, they don't take much more effort. maybe you'll learn to love baking! :) and just think - you know what is and isn't in it, and i'm sure you can use local ingredients in it! sounds just perfect to me!

Tabba said...

beer and chocolate is where i would draw the line too. and listen, if you got brownie mix in the mail as a "gift"...would it really be all that BAD? lol...am i defeating the purpose? it sounds like i'm your pusher. i don't know the answer....except that you are doing more than most of us....so i really can't talk.

all i can say is that i am so with you on the beer. but homebrew is good too!!

deezee said...

the guilt line totally cracked me up. Glad J is doing better.

wanna know how I preserve herbs? I bury them behind other groceries in my fridge and rediscover them months later. The rosemary has turned into a lovely dried version. Quite amusing.

de said...

Obnoxious question number one: do you have a freezer? You can mince fresh herbs and freeze them (measured in ice cube trays if you're a measurer) in baggies. Put right into food frozen.

About bread - sandwich bread is the snag for me. I would have to give them up rather than make sandwiches with the breads I bake.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I was going to tell you how to dry herbs, but Mad already did it. It is SO worth it. I dried mine last summer/fall and am still using them. But then ... do herbs grow year-round where you live now?

In Annie Dillard's book "The Living" there's a part where one of the main characters -- who's from back East & follows her husband to the Pacific Northwest; this is the early 1900s -- tries to make bread. She totally flubs it so she buries the dough in the yard & starts over -- trying to hide her mistake from the neighbors, who all know how to make perfect bread. But lo! the dough rises and pokes itself out of the ground. That made me laugh so hard. I can see myself doing that.

phsymom said...

http://www.wikihow.com/Preserve-Herbs

My friend who lives in a very humid region of Mexico uses a dehydrator. As it says in the link above it looses some potency, but you don't have to deal with mold and rot.

Love your bravery and honesty.

Blessings.
Karen

deb said...

Brownies are the easiest thing to make from scratch, honest. Butter, put a litre of whipping cream 35% in a mason jar and shake for 1/2 hour. You also get two cups of milk out of it. You can even make your own cheese. A good book for all kinds of stuff like this is The Joy of Cooking. It covers how to make anything.

Heidi said...

I agree.

I find it ironic that customers go into the bathroom and in order to reduce germs they leave the sink on while they towel dry their hands. Then they forget to even turn off the water. So yeah they are a little less germ free, but they are wasting a ton of water.

Amber said...

I'm working on doing more scratch cooking, and it's going pretty well. I do a lot of baking and preserving, I've even learned how to can. It's actually easier than I expected it would be, and once you get in the habit it becomes second nature.

But I still buy a lot of crap I don't need, too. Right now it's the Easter candy. I do love the Easter candy. I try to make small, gradual changes because I think they're more manageable, and I'm more likely to stick with them.

flutter said...

Mad nailed it right on the head with the herbs. and i just realized I never sent you your garden chart. crapola. sorry.

Kyla said...

I think you deserve a treat every once in a while.

Glad J is better.

jaded said...

I guess forgetting to water the herbs isn't the same as drying them, good thing everyone else has you covered. I admire your commitment to do the right thing. It's a more difficult to sacrifice the time when you are leading a family.

I've gotten a little better about some of this stuff than I used to be. Composting, recycling, and homemade wine that will knock you on your ass.

Anonymous said...

mmm

brownies

Anjali said...

Drawing the line at beer -- what a great motto for life in general (not just a girl in the jungle). You all are awesome!

marymurtz said...

Dude, you didn't take a vow to be Amish! Don't beat yourself up over a few convenience foods. I admire your ideals, though. Seriously. Use the stuff you have and enjoy it. Rome wasn't unbuilt in a day.

Karen said...

ah, thank god for the local beer!
Um, I think you could consider looking for some sustainable living blogs to read. I've been learning to grow a few vegetables in containers & how to store food properly - hurray for the blogosphere in all its many variations!

wheelsonthebus said...

to paraphrase Avenue Q -- everyone's a little bit lazy sometimes

joker the lurcher said...

i have had to get into this since we got so broke and moved house - at first it was tough but now i am really into it. i never need a gym subscription now i'm sawing up firewood and lugging heavy stuff around!