Household Routines

July 4, 2008 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Yesterday, I thought out a plan for my otherwise non-structured days that has me outside in the early mornings (before it gets too hot) and the late afternoon/early evening (when it starts to cool down). The reason this necessitated thought and conscious resolution is that it also entailed the idea of getting up at 5am and not even starting to prepare dinner until 8pm. On the first day, I stayed up until 11:30 (after vowing a drop-dead bedtime of 11pm) and didn’t have the gumption to set the alarm. Although I did wake without it around 5:30. So, I suppose I’m just half an hour off all-around. Still, it did not seem like an auspicious start.

For the first time ever my yogurt didn’t gel up and smell yogurty when I took it out of it’s baby-blanket-and-cooler incubation spot. I made it up yesterday during the day rather than in the evening. I don’t know if that was the problem, if it was that I hadn’t reserved enough “starter” yogurt or that it plain doesn’t work in a perpetual motion kind of way and needs commercial yogurt as a starter every few times. This was the first time I’d remembered to save starter yogurt (although I didn’t remember until I’d already mixed in the fruit) for more than one or two goes.

I think it’s no accident that the people who seem to be able to successfully pull off a sustainable lifestyle are full-time writers or full-time farmers — or both. Even with my incredibly flexible schedule it sometimes seems nearly impossible to figure out how to satisfy the requirements of my job and the increasingly time-consuming requirements of my life. I’ve heard a lot of discussion on how the price of organic and locally raised fruits and vegetables makes them an “elite-only” option. But it’s been my experience that the limiting factor isn’t money so much as time.

In the past, I’ve gone through periods where I ate out at restaurants almost exclusively. Even though I’m paying more per pound and item for the meats, eggs, dairy, dry goods, fruits, and vegetables I buy now — mostly at the farmer’s market with a weekly trip to Weaver Street and to my local Lowe’s Foods thrown in — I know that I’m spending less overall on food than when I dined in restaurants. Now that the produce from my very modest garden is starting to pour in that tab is only growing smaller. I know that dining out in decent restaurants and cafes most nights is also an elite option, but I think my food budget compares pretty favorably with that of someone trying to survive by dining in fast-food places. Those can be expensive too. So, I tend to think the price argument is more one about priorities. I remember when I first pulled $50 cash from the ATM to spend at one farmer’s market it seemed like a huge amount. But I thought nothing of swiping my debit card for that much or more in a typical trip to the grocery store. Gradually, I’ve shifted “normal” for me to spending the bulk of my grocery dollars at two weekly farmer’s markets (one on Wednesday and one on Saturday) and supplementing that with small, weekly re-supplies at brick and mortar grocery outlets.

But I do agree that there is a limiting factor to eating a locally sourced diet and that is time. It takes a mind-boggling amount of time to grow, process, and cook all of this good food. Simply cooking from scratch using ingredients from any source is a much more involved process than opening up a can of soup or heading out to McDonalds for lunch. Finding or growing the raw materials of dinner, bringing them in or home, figuring out how to make them into dinner or save them for another day. It takes time. It takes lots of time.

I enjoy it and I’m commited to it. I really think I’ve gone over some psychic line where darkening the doors of a McDonalds simply isn’t something I could ever do again. But when the yogurt doesn’t gell, the clothesline falls apart in a big storm, the windowsills get prepped as in all the paint scrapped off but not sealed as is primer applied and then the big storm thoroughly soaks all of that wood, when the natural cure for squash borers really works and all the sudden we are swimming in zucchini, when work deadlines loom, when the next trip to the CRV is only a week away — things can get overwhelming. And do.

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Entry filed under: Cooking, gardening, Piedmont.

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