Decluttering? Ha!

I haven’t posted in a little over a year now, and quite frankly I am not entirely clear about why I’m posting now. My best guess is that my newly hatched plan to build and live in a Tiny House has me energized, excited, and exuberant. I’m all eeeee !

Tonight I am struck by an irony that i just have to write about. The past several weeks have seen me put the beginnings of my Tiny House plan into effect by downsizing. De cluttering. Getting rid of things I do not need, do not use, or can find ways of living without. At the same time, I’m trying to explore ways of reducing what I buy. For some time now, for years, really, I’ve been bringing my lunch to work everyday in reusable containers. This is not new. My kids, now grown, like to recall how I tortured them by forcing them to cut open and wash the bags our milk came in and to use them to pack their sandwiches for their school lunches. They had no quarrel with the concept, they just hated washing and drying the smelly milk bags. I totally got that, but for the good of the environment…

Nowadays, I don’t drink milk, nor do I eat much bread (how things change!), and instead I eat HUGE salads. Yummy salads! And, since we now know plastic is not so safe ( sorry, kids! Who knew?!), I’ve bought lovely and, incidentally, incredibly heavy glass containers for carrying my lunches back and forth. I have developed serious upper body strength lugging them around, I kid you not!

Lately, though, I have found myself dreading the prospect of carrying all that heavy glass. I don’t think it’s entirely my imagination that my bike tends to lean towards whichever side the panier holding my lunch happens to be on! So, tonight I decided to do something about it, and googled lunch containers. And I found some. Lovely, light, stainless steel to-go tiffin buckets with it’s own completely recycled cotton carry bag. Listed right next to that set was super light “bambu” cutlery with its long lasting, totally biodegradable, and cleanable cork cover (and I wasn’t even looming for cutlery but there it was in all it’s environmentally appropriate glory! Who could resist?) and right beside that, abeego resusable, washable, and also long lasting cloth/wax/resin food wrapper. (You can find all this and more at Fenigo, but if you click on that link you can’t say I didn’t warn you!)

So now I have a full set of litter-less, reusable and super environmentally friendly lunch paraphernalia. So. What to do with all the heavy glass containers? It’s not really a problem since I do tend to run low at grocery time (I use them to keep food in my fridge and cupboards as I haven’t bought plastic wrap or tinfoil in over a decade either.) But, and now we’re back to the ironic part, it does seem odd that I’m decluttering and acquiring all at the same time, and all in the name of sustainability and being environmentally friendly.

This downsizing is clearly going to be a bit of a challenge for me.

My first Bento lunch

I’ve been inspired by Just Bento.com, who writes about all things bento. The idea of packing little nutritious and aesthetically pleasing lunches has huge appeal to me. I’ve been reading about Bento all day, and have even ordered my own magawappa bento box and chopsticks.

I have even created my own first albeit very simple bento lunch consisting of Quinoa Lime/pepper salad and a modified Greek salad, with two romaine leaves doubling as food holders and dividers. As i don’t yet have a proper bento box, I used a round tupperware container for this first attempt.

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I shall take this little lunch on my bike ride tomorrow. My bento test. Hope it holds up to all the jostling it’s sure to receive!(Not sure why this photo is so blurry, and it’s frustrating since a blurry photo of a bento lunch seems ironic given that visual appeal is part of the whole point of bento to begin with. Clearly, I’m just a beginner at this!).

Utopia?

One evening last week I attended a lecture/discussion on food — how it’s grown, packaged, and distributed, what our relationship to it is, etc. It was a great session and I heard a lot of the same horror stories I’ve heard before: cows rarely get to live longer than 1 year and that one year ain’t too pleasant, you don’t want to know what happens to the chickens and I don’t want to tell you, and the fruit and veggies we eat today contain, on average, 40% less nutrients the same fruits and veggies contained less than 25 years ago. And these aren’t made-up stories, folk, this is our reality!

But this session raised several happier scenarios as well: we heard and talked about community supported agriculture (CSA), about community gardens (right here in Montreal!), about urban agriculture — growing veggies in a sunny spot in your living room, or on your back deck, or if you’re really lucky, in your back yard. We heard from people who were collaborating on a variety of projets: one group of families within the city limits have decided to turn all their back yards into gardens and will be sharing the resulting harvests with one another, down-town dwellers (like me!) are doing similar kinds of things on balconies, rooftops, etc.The folk who set up and maintain the container gardens you see sprouting (pun intended!) at McGill were also there. (Check it out!)

And then there was a farmer who came out to tell his story about how he and his wife and a couple of their friends pooled resources, rented some land from farmers very nearby (still on the Island, even!) and started their own farm. They grow organic fruits and veggies, enough to feed themselves and sell baskets direct to subscribers in the city effectively skipping the whole middle man bit of the business which means the consumer is only paying for the food and nothing else, and the farmer gets more of the profits, which he can then put back into the fields and next year’s crops. Better for the grower and the consumer.  And because they’re renting land and started out small and are growing slowly making sure to never do more than they can handle on their own both physically and financially, they’ve not had to borrow, which means they are not subject to the demands of the bankers and other business folk. They make decisions collectively and as a result, says this farmer, they are able to make more intelligent decisions.

And when this farmer told us that it takes as little as $50,000 over 4 years to start up that kind of venture, there was a collective gasp of astonishment from the audience! Clearly, this guy and his friends have adopted a more frugal lifestyle than most of the rest of us have been able to do, and clearly he and his fellow farmers know a lot more about soil and growing stuff than the rest of us are ever likely to know.But the main message of the session was that each of us can do some small thing, start in some small way, to take control over our own food.

And I must admit – I’m intrigued …

my next project …

heading out shortly to pick up the supplies I need to make a couple self-watering containers to put out on my fire-escape/balcony to grow veggies in. I got the book, Fresh Food from Small Spaces to help me figure out what I most need to think about, and this site and this one to go to when I run into the inevitable difficulties (as I did when my worm compost became the spawning ground for hoards of fruit flies).

Urban agriculture is becoming more and more an interest for me, and as I get my thoughts together on just why that is, I’ll post more on that subject…

Day 3 (caffeine withdrawal)

ARGHHHHH!

Headache, sleepy, difficulty concentrating, grumbly tummy …

Fun stuff, this withdrawal process. If any of you ever see me inhaling, drinking, swallowing, snorting, or eating anything that’s even vaguely addictive in the future, please just bonk me in head and take whatever substance it is away from me. I always end up addicted to addictive things (go figure!) and getting rid of those addictions after is A LOT OF WORK, and UNPLEASANT. And I don’t want to have to do this ever again!

And just for the record, I’m not quitting caffeine for any virtuous reason. No. Not at all. I like coffee. It just turns out I’m allergic to caffeine. That means no coffee, no tea (not even that $21 bag of white needle tea I bought recently) and … prepare for it … NO CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!

*sigh*

Does that seem fair to you?!