And the answer is…

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So how does one get by without plastic? I lost a bit of sleep, I’ll confess, when faced with the conundrum of how to bring my produce and bulk food home without plastic sacks. That the bags offered at our local health food stores were supposedly biodegradable did not comfort me. I wanted to get to the next level. Without having my broccoli wilt a day after bringing it home.

The answer, it seems, is cloth. For under ten dollars I made two dozen drawstring muslin bags of all sizes, for everything from huge heads of kale to poppyseeds. I empty the bulk foods into jars once home from the store. Flours get to stay in their sacks because they are stored in the fridge. So far all durable produce like kale and carrots and broccoli is staying fresh. If I notice something drying out a bit, I spray the bag with a little water. And I do use everything within a week.

Did you know you get bag credit for every bag you bring, not just the grocery sacks that cart everything home? Or that it makes you feel like a million bucks to get home from the store without a single plastic bag to worry about an albatross eating? That keeping food in cloth and glass feels, well, nicer to the food? And that many stores sell muslin bags readymade for your shopping pleasure?

Now we both do.

Welcome to Old Recipe for a New World

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Thanks for dropping by.

The recipe we’re cooking these days is simple: less waste, more joy. Will it help to create a new world? At our house, maybe.

We’re gearing up (down?) for a four month fast from buying plastic. It’s a symbolic action, a way for us to live more in line with our principles. A show of solidarity with an increasingly troubled planet, if you will.

I’ll be posting our discoveries of how to get by in a post-plastic world (well, almost – we get to keep the plastic we already have, and cherish those bottles and baggies like they deserve to be cherished). Eventually I’ll be taking hard looks at the facts of consumption and waste, and sharing some of our reasons for making what amounts to a pretty big lifestyle change.

But know that the roots of this journal are planted in the soil of simplicity, wonder, and love. It’s a fertile ground, that. Already I’ve found much to celebrate in the handmade, the natural world, the kitchen, and the goat barn. As we close the doors on old patterns, they open to the surprising abundance of a life lived more carefully.

Feeding the Grandmothers

IMG_0039IMG_0020I didn’t learn to can food from my grandmothers. That knowledge came from books and mentors, was pulled from the great Out There where such wisdom resides, waiting for whomever comes looking. From these women I inherited my eyes and nose, a hefty dose of sentimentality, and faith in the unseen. When I think of the generations of grandmothers stretching back into time, it makes me a bit dizzy, as when I gaze up at the Milky Way and try to fathom how big the universe really is. Each ancestor in my lineage–and yours, too–faced unique challenges on both the personal and cultural level. Like us they found ways to celebrate, to love their families, and to forge onward. A few nights ago, when the moon was bright and fat through the apple branches, I put a serving of dinner out among the fallen leaves. I spooned a helping of apple sauce made from that very tree on top, and said a short prayer of thanks. It went like this:   Thank you, thank you, thank you for this good life we lead. May we use it well.

And so it Begins

After a week of winter it’s warm again. Bread rises on the counter. The baby sleeps.
Worry over what’s in store for the planet gives way to the pleasure of the moment:

this cup of tea, this drinking in of peace.

It began simply, slowly, this adventure in old fashioned living.
What seemed difficult and unnatural has proven just the opposite.

And so our efforts have grown. Just as our impact on the planet decreases.
Life grows simpler and simpler, as do our goals.
Less waste. More joy.
It’s an old recipe for a new world.

And we’re making it up as we go.