Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Little Stuff, Big Stuff

One of my goals with the R4A is to bring more mindfulness to our consumption in an attempt to lower it significantly.

Today, I was thinking of the little things we do to lower our consumption. There are lots of them, some that we are aware of and some that became habits so long ago that we don't think about them. They run on autopilot. Buying jeans yesterday I pointed out that one pair had holes in the knees. J-Baby said, "But they don't go all the way through." (That meant that the threads were still connected.) In that moment, I knew that my child considered buying used clothes at the thrift store as normal, and he saw the value in pants that weren't perfect. We bought them, and I'm going to patch the knees. That knocks down a big hurdle in buying used pants for boys.

I thought it might be helpful if I try, at least once a week, to list some of the little things we have done. So, here are 10 things we did to help lower my consumption over the past week.

1) Bought clothing at the thrift store (needed clothing, not buying just to buy).

2) Whipped up the remaining container of cream (from the Christmas pie) to serve as dessert rather than letting it go rotten.

3) Made chicken stock. This reduces waste by creating broth for us and protein for the dog. It took me nearly an hour to sort through the flesh and bones. Did you know adding vinegar and soaking the bones for 30 minutes, then simmering for nearly 24 hours, will result in being able to crumble most of the bones? I saved my carcasses and did four of them, plus necks and wings from a few chickens. The result was 20 cups of delicious stock for us, some of the chicken flesh pulled off for soup, and 8 cups of protein, fat, and veggies for the dog (to be mixed with grain).

4) Wore long underwear under pajamas so we could lower the thermostat.

5) Papa installed a timer so we can plug in our phones at night and charge them for only an hour.

6) Started using soap nuts instead of Seventh Generation laundry soap, thus not needing the big plastic bottles.

7) Received a calendar from our meat producer (unsolicited) and decided not to buy a train calendar.

8) Patched a pair of socks.

9) Papa and the boys rode their bikes 7 miles round trip in 40 degree weather to pick up our CSA box.

10) Used our produce washing water to irrigate the bougainvillea.

Now, after waxing poetic about the many benefits of making chicken stock, I will write about our big decision of the day:

Eating chicken isn't sustainable for us.

There is no way around it. Even "local" chicken (by Whole Foods standards) isn't fed local grain. Organic chicken isn't produced locally. Short of raising our own meat birds or knowing someone who does, on a polyculture farm with local grain, chicken isn't sustainable for us. The grain has to be grown, and even organic grain needs irrigation. Then the grain needs to be shipped here. Even organic producers create waste, and a producer has to be pretty big to supply health foods stores.

Ruminants convert sunlight into protein. Well, the sunlight grows the grasses, which we can't sustain ourselves on, and turn it into muscle, which we can eat. Cattle who are pastured on lands that are less than ideal for growing crops are sustainable. Even though we buy our cattle from up north, we buy in bulk to lower transportation costs. We don't live in an area with enough precipitation to grow pasture, and the land here is too valuable for housing anyway. But even so, we are looking for any local grassfed meat we can find.

We want off the corn treadmill. I don't mind eating corn as corn or cornmeal, but I don't want to drink it as HFCS and I don't want to eat animals that are raised solely on corn and soybeans. We can get grassfed cheese, butter, and milk. We can get grassfed lamb and beef. We didn't eat chicken for 18 years and I don't think we'll be unhealthy if we stop eating it for now.

The eggs we buy from our local flock are from chickens that do eat some grain. They also eat fruits, veggies, bugs, and more. They will be our exception.

This is a tough decision. Chicken has been our least expensive form of meat, and we buy organic. We enjoy chicken, and we like chicken soup. We have to change things. We'll make beef and lamb stocks. We'll eat another beef or vegetarian meal each week, and use hamburger patties as a lunch meal now and then.

Now, I'm great at wanting to do big things, but not always great at ultimatums and follow through. So we're going to give up chicken for the rest of January, and reevaluate in February. Hopefully then we will recommit for another month.

No comments:

Post a Comment