Today is week three of living as sustainably as I can. I am now on a journey of a life of no restaurants, no mass produced, no processed foods., growing what I can, buying locally what I can't. A life of knowing if I run out...I either make it myself or don't have it. While this journey started years ago, on some level, not until now have I really decided that this is who I am, this is what I want to do 100% ..with all of me. I decided to start a facebook group of 30 days of sustainable living. Each of us is on a different level of this journey, and to each person sustainable, frugal, simple means different things, and that is okay. We all learn from each other, if we just listen.
First let me start out with the above picture I chose for this blog. When most people think about sustainable living, they picture acres of produce, pasture of cows, goats,etc. But what sustainable living to me is that all of nature works together..everything has a purpose if it is true to nature. Sustainable is being aware of the beauty in the world, and how it all exists for the purpose of sustaining life. Sustainable living is seeing the world in both a complex and simple context. It is noticing the changing of the seasons, the wildlife that changes with them, the vegetation that changes with them. It is being aware of who you are, and what living truly means. I could go into how the bright life, loud music, instant gratification is wrong, but maybe it is not wrong for some...but then again maybe it is wrong for the future survival of the world. I have no answers only answers for myself, and listening to what truly makes me feel alive.
So all that being said, here are a few observations of my first few weeks of cutting out processed, mass produced food, and where it has lead me.
The first thing that hit me, maybe after a week and a half, and it kind of came out of the blue was that I began to feel a certain itch, a certain craving that I could not put my finger on. I started thinking about it, and then I began to wonder if what I was craving was the chemicals in processed foods. That whether it is intentional or not, and I suspect it is, we become addicted to those chemicals in processed foods so that we crave more and more. I thought my life was relatively free of processed foods, but the more I thought about it, I was still getting an amount of it I didn't realize, we bought crackers, we bought ketchup and other condiments, we ate out at restaurants, I did not realize that we were still getting our share of chemicals while thinking we were living a 100% healthy life.
The second thing that struck me was that things smelled different to me. I don't know ..I suspect again an absence of chemicals. But it was also something else, the smells I was smelling were real smells, smells of fresh produce straight from the farmer or my garden, fresh herbs and citrus from my garden. The smells of fresh bread in the oven, homemade soups...smells of homemade cooking and baking. Smells of spices as I made our own condiments. The smells that nature intended, no longer a spray to cover up odors. Walking into garden became a journey of sites and smells. There is a problem with this, however, man made noise, smells, chatter, bright lights...it all assaults you on a different level...one that is almost unbearable. You find yourself building a bubble around yourself when you are forced to go into this world. You force yourself to be calm and to quiet your own mind...easy no...not in the least. But for now it is the price I pay for living the life I believe in.
My final thoughts ..the ones that struck me this morning. When you start living this way, you are suddenly aware that there is a half of a bottle of ketchup in your fridge and that you only have one jar of tomatoes left to replace it, and that it is only February. You realize that last stack of paper napkins is the last you will use. You know that when that plastic bottle of dish soap runs out..it is you who will have to make more. You count the little tooth pastes that are in your linen closet. You take stock of what you have left and what you will need to make. Guess what...you stop wasting..you become aware of how much you use. What I thought about this morning as I went about my chores, most of your time is spent preparing, making, and growing. Part of the outcome of all these chores is that you don't have time to feel sorry for yourself or wish you had what your neighbors had, or fight with your family. You have to work together. In some small ways I feel I am walking in the shoes of my ancestors. Though I will probably never have the strength or fortitude they had, we are, after all a product of our society, I can work toward stepping into their big shoes.