Normally we stick to eating wholemeal bread because it’s good for us as well as delicious, but white bread with lemon curd is so scrumptious, like cake really. The only difficult thing was having the patience to wait for the lemon curd to cool down!
Recently – around Christmas time I think, when we’d been having a bigger variety of food than usual, I began to feel horrified about the quantities of packaging generated, and I came into the new year determined to do something about it. Spurred on by reading Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man, which I’m halfway through and really enjoying, I’ve been reviewing what we buy and what it comes wrapped in.
We try to favour local shops or locally sourced produce – we do buy from Sainsburys and the Co-op though they are large chains, because they include a lot of organic, free-range, responsibly sourced, fairly traded products, and they make their baked goods and cereals from British grain, keeping the food miles down to some extent. Even with this good track record, practicality means more rather than less packaging in their stores, besides which we like to buy from small family businesses when that option doesn’t bankrupt us (it’s often, though not always, much more expensive). We keep our costs down by the type of goods we buy rather than by shopping with giants. Beans will always be cheaper than cheese or meat, by a long way when the animal protein food is bought mindful of the care to the animal while it was alive.
We separate and recycle our garbage conscientiously, but even recycling is an industrial process costly to the Earth, and no packaging is better than recycled packaging. So we’ve reviewed our buying patterns, and this is getting easier all the time to do; of the five of us living here, three (soon four) work freelance, and that gives us the space in our time budget to dot about here and there making purchases at the little shops scattered widely round the sprawl of Hastings and St Leonards.
We have changed to getting our bread and vegetables from local bakers and greengrocers – the bread costs half as much again or even double in price if we do that, but not the fruit and veg. There we can either put the food unwrapped straight in our basket, or have it packed in a paper bag. As the paper bags are excellent kindling, either is fine.
Dairy produce is not a problem because we shouldn’t eat it – it makes us all ill. We slipped back into eating it at the end of last year and coughed and sneezed and snotted along until we faced the reality that we really had to knock this off. I am no fan of margarine though, and will continue to opt for butter, but I care where the butter comes from – how the cows are treated, when and how their calves are slaughtered, if they are allowed to run with their mothers etc – so sourcing that is a bit of a headache. I do like meat, and have come cautiously to the view that eating meat means giving an animal life as well as death, but I am also aware of the role meat plays in the big killers – cancer, diabetes, heart disease as well as CJD and various other grim illnesses. And I don’t live easy with the notion that some creature’s whole life was brought to an end for me to eat this one meal gone in minutes. Not to mention the huge amounts of water used in animal husbandry, and the 35-1 ratio of grain to meat in every pound of animal flesh eaten (grain that was 20% protein anyway). So I have long stretches of eating vegan, and admire it as a way of life. But I find a little animal-sourced food helpful to my physical energy and wellbeing. Ideally I’d go for probiotic plain yoghourt, eggs, a little fish, and butter. The yoghourt presents problems for packaging and does gunge up my system so I’ll have that only rarely. The fish is easy because we live right by the sea, and I can take a plastic box to the shop instead of getting it wrapped in plastic bags. The butter – ideally I’d like to find a smallholder with goats and cows and buy the butter of either animal straight from her: I’ll go to the farmer’s market and ask. The eggs – we have a brilliant solution! Next door to the church where our Grace and the Wretched Wretch worship, somebody sells eggs from the garden gate. They keep rescued battery hens, and leave out boxes of eggs for people to help themselves. The prices are very modest, there’s an honesty box for the money, and empty egg boxes are dropped off to be used again. That fulfils all my criteria: zero food miles and Grace was going to church anyway, so there isn’t even travel to the shop), compassion for the animals, nothing has died, small family business, zero packaging (except re-used which is better than re-cycled), no shop-fittings (lights, electronic tills, displays) using Earth resources, the animals are naturally fed and free-range. Perfect!
So the lemon curd in the picture was made with lemons (no packaging, straight in my own cloth Buddha bag) from the greengrocer near Hebe’s masonry down by the sea, margarine from Trinity wholefoods (a co-operative down in Hastings), fair-traded sugar from the Co-op (a big chain but democratic), and eggs from next door to Pett chapel. Cooked up on our electric hotplate fuelled by sunshine via our solar panels on the roof. Eaten with bio-dynamic butter from free-range cows via Trinity wholefoods, on sinfully white bread from the baker round the corner from the masonry. In the sunshine :0)
365 Day 16 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
2 pairs of trousers, sent to Barnados charity shop. Two things to go today, to balance with an incoming garment. If I have something completely new, I balance it by disposing of two items that don’t even appear in the blogged list – but the garment here was something that used to be mine that our Alice has had for a few years and now given back to me – a fleece hoodie. I’ll add in an extra book given away but not blogged, to be sure I’m not accumulating.