Make It Yourself

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I’m not advocating for a complete return to an agrarian life.  It just isn’t for everyone, I understand.  Besides, it’s fascist and just plain boring.  And how can we possibly pry all the technology out of the fingers of its adherents for more than a few minutes anyway.  I guess we really cannot in some cases.   

But if we want to keep disease in check and curb the obesity problem in the developed world, we obviously need to make some significant changes.  None of these changes are easy and I realize it isn’t all going to happen overnight.  I’m in a coffee shop writing this paragraph and there is one person behind me talking on the phone, and another texting in front of me.  Were I to ask them these simple questions, they’d probably look at me like I just fell off the nearest psychiatrist’s couch; the questions are simple, the answers are dreadful to many, I suppose.  Such as supporting regional (preferably local) agriculture; organically produced agriculture.  Demanding it.  Genetically altering food-producing plants, and then spraying them with pesticides is no longer acceptable.      

If we all contributed modestly to the solution, it probably wouldn’t seem insurmountable.  It could be extremely difficult, but nothing worth having is worth ease of possession, I believe.   

But with convenience food on virtually every street corner, how do you convince people to start along the different road?  And with patience at a seemingly all time low, how do you even get people to listen.  I know there are times when I myself try hard to extricate myself from a conversation that is sapping me of my time and energy.  Perhaps for me, blogging is that starting point.  People can listen at their own convenience, and perhaps have some say in their own smaller circle of influence.One of the solutions:  Make It Yourself 

For example, try making food one day a week. Pick something easy, and that you really love to eat, and make it completely from scratch. Once a week, every week.  Maybe you’ll enjoy doing it, and cook more regularly, and will reach a higher level of sustainability and health.  Don’t go out and grow all your food at first. If you are so inclined, grow a little of your food, buy organic, and in some cases just do without. If you want a somewhat more inspiring invitation to change, read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle.    In it, Kingsolver and her family decide to live off the land.  I’ll let you make your own judgments about their efforts.

If what you like is spaghetti, for example, try growing a small amount of virtually everything in the recipe. If you are including meatballs, you probably don’t want to raise a cow if that is cost and space prohibitive. But you can grow (and can or freeze) the tomatoes and the spices to make a sauce. You probably won’t grow the wheat for making pasta. But you can try making the pasta yourself. Doing all of this will slow you down enough to appreciate the process, and since all the food is fresh, you will truly appreciate it.   

It seems, however, that we have  become slaves to what the media marketing circus is selling that we consume fast food ad nauseum, prescription drugs until we are drowning in them, and clothing and technology and other affectations to sell us as pointedly attractive. 

Please give it a try.  Let’s take back the world from those who have chosen to do us harm.

Running, Lazy, Love-to-Eat Fool

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I’m 43 years old, I’m healthier and happier than I have been than at any other time in my life, but I still have work to do in my effort to make my life simpler. OK, so maybe I’m a little Monk-ish, without really the germophobia. But I’m trying to lose about twenty more pounds, and they are the most challenging twenty pounds of my life. For various reasons. After I became seriously out of shape (approximately forty pounds overweight), I started eating better and running.  I pretty quickly lost about thirty pounds, over about the next couple of years, I put about ten of it back on.  I know part of the weight is a change from fat to muscle.  But I’m also a little lazy.  I still do work out about 4-5 days a week, but it takes every effort to get myself to do it.  My Monk-ish traits often get me out of the door.  If I get my bag ready the night before, then I cannot tell myself no.  Once at the gym, I try to convince myself that I don’t feel well enough to run what I am scheduled to run that day.  Usually the endorphins fix that problem.  So I end up running my quota most weeks.  Life happens sometimes, and so I don’t always.  The problem I guess I ultimately have is that I love to eat.  And often I am not as discriminating as I should be.  Sometimes I’m just plain tired, and I will eat the quickest, easiest thing possible, if not the healthiest.  So I’m determined to get the chaos out of my daily consumption.  I don’t consider myself a control freak, per se.  I don’t try to control other people.  But I have to have some control over my life.  So I feel I need to have a little more control over my eating habits.  Wish me luck.

Banana Ice Cream

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I don’t own an ice cream machine. I just don’t eat ice cream much. But I had several ripe bananas that I didn’t want to wait to ripen more for banana bread. I decided to buy some good vanilla ice cream and add the mashed bananas and refreeze, stirring periodically to get a smoother consistency. It worked really well, and the ice cream tasted very much like banana ice cream. It was well worth the little bit of effort to get to the right taste. I’m thinking of trying this method with other add-ins. Give it a try. Unless you eat a lot of ice cream, an ice cream machine is just one more appliance to take up space, and that you have to move if you move. And you can never get that kind of ice cream you want when you are having just that particular craving.

All Things in Moderation

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If you realize that not a single “thing” can sustain you by itself, then it is easy to see that having most things in moderation is healthy.  When I hear somebody use the word need in place of want/like/desire, I see this all over again.  I don’t at all take for granted that which I “need.”  That which sustains me: air, water, food, shelter, in that order, as well as relationships, which are for other posts.  Anything beyond that certainly qualifies as somewhat of a luxury or a privilege.  There is nothing wrong with any of it so long as it doesn’t ruin my quality of living.  Even the last two in the needs list can move to the wants list.  That said, one thing I like to do is watch the food network.  I like to be as knowledgeable as possible about what I am putting into my body.  I don’t watch enough to qualify it as an addiction, by any stretch of the imagination.  I understand that feeding the temple doesn’t require intricate, expensive or unsustainable preparation.  Feeding the craving can.  And occasionally I like to indulge.  I probably will put some recipes on my blog in the future.  They won’t be anything that I just copy out of a book, but those that I have changed to suit my taste or its ease of preparation.  Example:  banana bread.  I have never been a huge fan of many banana bread recipes I have tried.  Over the years, I tinkered with the recipe to suit me.  Because I have changed the recipe many times, I may post that recipe first.  Banana bread certainly doesn’t qualify as something which sustains me.  Nor as sustainable.  For many, wheat for the creation of flour is not a local commodity.  Bananas don’t grow in North America.  Sugar, along with the wheat, are highly refined products.  But I like banana bread, and so I make it on occasion.

Twinkies Don’t Grow on Trees

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I have used this expression for years.  It is my way of saying that which has been processed to the extreme isn’t going to sustain you.  I was prompted to write this when I read an article on extreme saving on Yahoo!  The obvious changes one can make when needing to trim a budget is get rid of the car in favor of walking, biking, or taking public transportation; downsizing your home or taking in a border; using coupons.  My problem with using coupons is that many products you purchase with coupons are highly processed.  I do eat some processed food, so I don’t want to come across as trying to preach.  But making the effort to eat less processed food will not only save you more money than using coupons (unless you are related to extreme users of coupons who make money to shop in the grocery store), but your body will thank you for eating healthier, especially if you also avoid eating out too often or eating large portions of meat at every conceivable meal.  A friend of mine likes to call these processed foods “whites,” as in white sugar, white flour.  These foods, when eaten in large quantities, are to me like a sedative.  I have more energy when I eat healthier, and thus more time to do all the things I love, and to show the people I love how much they matter to me.  Twinkies don’t grow on trees, but to quote somebody other than myself, “An apple a day helps keep the doctor away.”  To your health!