Simple: Life.

by Elizabeth on May 20, 2012

eggs of many colors by woodley wonderworks

simple eggs, by woodley wonderworks at flickr.

In the weeks since we’ve last talked, I fell down a rabbit hole of my own making.  (Aren’t they all of our own making, come to think of it?)

Oddly enough, the longer that the absence went on, the harder it was to sit down and get back into the swing of things.  It’s like answering email (or at least, how answering email is for me, which is, admittedly, possibly different than it is for you.) — the longer it sits there and stares you in the face, the more guilt that builds, and the less likely things are to ever get started again.  It’s like a mental inertia: the energy it takes to start seems like more than you could ever muster.

So this morning, when I was doing some thinking over the (third) cup of coffee of the day, I thought I’d just dive in.  Give you a little state of the union report.  Dip a toe in and hope it’s enough to crack through the resistance and start things moving again.

When we last talked, I was just learning about food.

And not just any food, but what most of us would consider to be the only food there is — the kind sitting on your local grocer’s shelves.  Sure, some of us do some shopping at the local farmers’ markets or have a little garden, but I’d wager that most of us, reading this, still go to the regular ol’ grocery store once in a while.  That’s what they’re for, after all.  To serve up nice little boxes and bags and jars and cans filled with things we can use to stay alive.

As you already know, if you’ve seen the last few entries, there’s a lot more going on behind those stores than meets the eye.  More than the marketing for all that Go-gurt would suggest, for sure.  Layers and layers of supplier chains, processing, and marketing go into getting one of those boxes of processed cheese product into your fridge (and, presumably, your body at some point).  Huge corporations have sprung up to manipulate the profits, and, in a lot of cases, the very crops themselves.

Therein lay my rabbit hole, people.

I’m one of those who can’t let things go.

Part of me wishes I was.  It’d sure be easier.  Wave my hand dismissively and wander on about my way, stuffing my face with genetically-modified, highly-processed crap-masquerading-as-food, and worrying about more important things, like who’s getting kicked off Dancing With The Stars or something.  Y’know…like a typical modern American.

My brain, though, is one of those weird ones that can’t rest until I know what I need to know, and in most cases, change things however I can.  I’m not prone to being an activist type (though I admire people who are), and my activism largely consists of telling people what I know and changing whatever I can right in my own life.  I figure that it’s all I really can do, in most cases, since the sum total of my political power is pretty localized, and consists of a few city councilpersons and one county commissioner friend. And a whole lot of friends who eat.

When I started learning about Monsatan and all the crazy things they were doing, bioengineering-wise and politically, I didn’t just FALL down the rabbit hole, I dived in with both feet and started swimming toward the bottom.

The Cliff’s-Notes Version of the Resulting Changes

Folks, I have been reading.  A LOT.  Blogs and articles and newspapers and farm subsidy bills and books.  Crazy amounts.  You’d think my head would have exploded by now.  (It’s still intact.  Thanks for asking.)

Every single one of these resources has said the same thing:  it’s time for a pretty serious societal change, or the resulting food system will be unsustainable.

Sidenote:  I realize this has the potential to make me sound like one of those crazy-eyed people on the Discovery channel, building bunkers and freeze-drying seeds for the coming apocalypse.  And I swear to you, that’s not what’s happening.  My eyes are fine.  I haven’t started digging a hole in the back yard.  (Well, kind of.  We’ll get to that.)  I’m not canning meat I hunted myself or adding to a stockpile of weaponry or duct-taping medical supplies to the inside of hollow doors.  Yet.  But I AM getting educated, and taking some steps to try and cut the industrial food complex out of my life, and working very actively toward a much simpler way of living.

In a way, it’s where all this Finer Fruits stuff was heading, in general, but now, it’s being fuelled by a very deep need…not just to connect with what’s real, but to make sure that my family isn’t going to have to be completely full of chemicals during the process.  (And yes, I know that chemicals occur naturally in everything.  I mean processed bad chemicals here.)  I don’t want to eat pink slime or meat glue, consume fifty pounds of high-fructose corn syrup every year, or subsist on “nutritionally-enriched” white flour anymore.  I want to know my neighbors, eat real food, and enjoy my world for as long as I can.

Since we’ve talked, then, we’ve made some changes.

  • I’ve planted a garden that, if I can keep the bunnies out of it, will probably feed most of my family and extended friend network for most of the winter.  Seriously.  Huge garden.  Despite having a largely-black thumb.
  • We’ve cut out most of the processed crap-food.  We slip.  But for the most part, it’s a treat rather than the norm.
  • I bake all our own bread.  And I’m looking to get a grain mill, despite the fact that it’s illegal to grow my own wheat.  I’m looking for a local farmer’s supply.
  • I’ve found a local butcher, who gets stuff from local animals, none of which are laden with slime or antibiotics.
  • I’ve been amassing a ton of farmer’s market-type recipes so we can further take out any foods that are in packages.
  • I’ve been seriously looking at raising my own chickens for eggs, finding a local dairy farm for milk, and have found a place to milk goats.  (More on that in coming days.)
  • In the past couple days, I’ve been coming to the realization that I might…just might…want my own farm.  Hobby-sized, nothing production-quantity.  But a place for chickens, and goats, and sheep, and probably a pig or two and possibly a dairy cow.  For someone who, five years ago, was a big-city marketing chick with an iPhone permanently attached to one hand and a Starbucks in the other, it’s kind of a big shift.

In addition, I’ve been really thinking about what simplicity really means.

The whole idea of “living simply” and “being green” has become kind of a weird marketing thrust lately.  Eco-chic is a Thing now.  Which is nice, but also, kind of weird, really.  (Especially when the big corporations have grabbed onto the term and the concept, and turned it into some kind of frankenconcept.  Even the two big stevia brands — natural sweeteners that are supposed to be healthier and more eco-friendly than artificial, chemical sweeteners — are by Coke and Pepsi now.  It’s ridiculous.)

I think I’ve distilled it down to a few major categories, though.  At least for me.  Ways that I can, personally, disconnect and, more importantly, reconnect with things that aren’t/are important.  Over the next couple of days, I’d like to go over those.  Get some feedback.  See what y’all think.  (Now that, obviously, the dam’s broken and I’m writing again.)

So be thinking about it:  what does “living simply” or “living fully” mean to you?  What are you doing, in your own life to make life richer and more connected?  How can you be the change you’d like to see in this world?

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie May 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Pretty much the same as you only I’ve been on the path a little longer. There’s those chickens. Garden space doubled. There are four apple trees assuming two will survive the bunnies eating all the bark. They are leafing out so maybe so. I’m planning on a goat for milk and food. I plan on bees next spring. I’m learning that if I want these things I have to be responsible for preparing for then because my sweet man is off earning the money for them. I’m planting a field of corn to feed the chickens so I don’t have to worry about GMO in my chicken feed. I’m planting a swath of wheat and some quinoa. I’m learning about turning my grass clippings into silage for winter feeding! Also, baby turkeys and meatie chicks this week. Though I’m even questioning that. Future meatiest won’t be the ubiquitous Cornish cross that I pay a couple bucks each for, they will be born and bred here on my little homestead. They won’t be as chesty but they still taste good. Mostly I’m trying to do it myself.

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Laurie May 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Also, I was poisoned in a sick building 10 years ago which led me down these paths. I use baking soda for washing my hair, make my own laundry soap and think of making my own soap as well. I had to remove most chemicals because they make me sick. I read the average American is doused in over 200 chemicals just with the morning shower routine. I had to find ways around that. One string leads to another.

I need to name my farm.

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loulou May 20, 2012 at 9:57 pm

“over 200 chemicals just with the morning shower routine.”

This seems so crazy to me. Crazy and scary.

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Laurie May 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

crazy and scary, indeed! But look at the ingredient list of your typical shampoo. Soap, same thing. Add in deodorant, lotion, perfumes…it adds up so very fast. And since your skin is your biggest organ, you shouldn’t be putting anything on it you don’t want to eat. That said, I do still spray on some sunscreen, otherwise I’d have to garden at night, even with my big white shirt and hat.

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loulou May 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I had to stop working years ago, and not only did that force me to live more simply in terms of how much money I had to spend, it was then I realized I had to live simply to save my own sanity. (Literally.) And oddly enough, living in a giant city has helped simplify things even more. There’s much less stress. (It helps that we live in a green, friendly and quiet neighborhood. And I have I mentioned the lake? ;) ) I’d love to have a farm or ranch, but don’t know if I could ever handle that much work again. Although I am hoping for a nice cottage someday. :)

I’m glad you updated! Diving in is good. :)

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loulou May 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm

My comments needs more :)

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Mrs. Mac May 21, 2012 at 2:54 am

Simple living is not easy living. It takes work to undo all the modern ways to relearn old ones. And it takes time to adjust. You can’t just go hog wild and throw everything out to start over in one day. Gardening takes a good ten years to even master .. but it is fun to start out and expand as you gain knowledge first hand. We are to the point of buying milk, eggs and meat from local farms (farms that grow their own feed so they don’t have to feed their animals GMO’s). Health has returned and we have more energy. We’ve been on this journey for four years.

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