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Eating Well

I just spent the last hour and a bit making bread for the next few weeks.  I ate the last slices of my last batch a few days ago and have been surviving without bread ever since.  I need to improve my timing!  I actually thought I had one more loaf in the freezer and by the time I realized I was wrong, it was too late.  Then I had to wait until I had a three day window to make more, and of course wake up my starter.  Fortunately it woke up pretty quickly.

I’m tired today.  I’ve been tired all weekend.  I think it’s the weather – grey, cold and dark so early.  I didn’t even get the dogs out today, other than taking Ross for a walk down by the beach.  I think this living in isolation is getting to me – I either am home alone all day, working, or spending my life in my car driving hours and hours to work or for my research.  I don’t even remember the last time I did anything social, other than a quick lunch with friends this weekend.  This weekend I was invited to a really fun event Saturday night, and I was too tired to attend, given the hour drive home in the dark – by myself – afterwards. So I stayed home, alone.  Again.

On the way home from my walk with Ross I discovered that my neighbour is putting dry cat kibble out on the step and my cats are eating it.  I had suspected for some time that they were finding food elsewhere as Liam is pulling out his coat again (he is allergic to commercial cat food) and Evie has been turning up her nose at her meals, yet still staying on the plump side.  This is a major frustration for me.  I do not want my cats eating that garbage, yet it’s like putting McDonald’s out for local kids to snack on as they play.  Of course they are going to eat it, then not want the healthy food that I offer at home as it doesn’t have all the flavour enhancement of the commercial stuff.  Yet this kibble will kill them if they eat too much of it.  95% of cats today develop kidney failure, and this is mostly because of commercial cat food, and especially dry kibble.   The stuff these neighbours are putting out is the bottom of the line.

I went over and spoke with them to see if there was any way we could work it out so that my cats don’t eat the stuff they are putting out.  The problem is that the people putting the kibble out are retirees with little to look forward to each day other than feeding the neighbourhood cats.  My explanation that the “food” will kill my cats did not sink in.  I asked that they at least take up the bowl at night so I could let the cats out in the evening, and they agreed to that.  I may end up buying a high quality bag of kibble for them to put out so at least what my cats get is not GMO corn and ground up dead shelter animals (no, I am not exaggerating).  Still, there isn’t a commercial food on the market that I would want to feed my pets, anymore than I want to feed myself pre-processed food.  Processed food is bad news all round, be it for humans or animals.

On the flip side, my freezer is chock full of good stuff these days. Last week I picked up a whole pastured lamb, which turned out to be primarily chops.  I will feed some to the dogs (and cats) but most of it will be for me.  I am going to learn how to cook leg of lamb this week.  I also picked up some more grass fed beef, and even got some to bring home to my mother, who has not eaten beef in years.  She decided she’d trust grass fed beef in that it will be safe to eat and that the animals were treated well.

This weekend I picked up my latest CSA share and spent several hours processing what I could: blanching and freezing brussel sprouts, chopping and freezing leeks, baking, purée-ing and freezing pie pumpkins.  I also made this beef borscht recipe, which turned out rather nicely.  I started with making beef broth from a couple of grass-fed beef shanks, and it all turned out rather well (for a change).  I will also be trying to make sour beets, according to Wild Fermentation.  I have quite a beets left over and thought this sounded like an interesting experiment (although a brief internet search reveals that this process has a high failure rate…).  I still have three cabbages, a ton of carrots, lots of parsnips and a celeriac to deal with.  Not to mention tons of squash and potatoes, but they’ll keep a long time.  Hopefully the other stuff will too, but my little fridge is stuffed to bursting with little room for anything else!

Tonight we get milk, glorious milk, and I’m pretty excited about that.  I’m not sure how to interpret that I get so excited about such small things now.  The cow is producing less and less as they are drying her up before she has her baby, and I’ve been out of milk for almost a week and waiting for a spare milking.  They will stop milking her completely for two months prior to giving birth – I have no idea what I’m going to do without milk for two months.  This is not something most people in our society have to think of.  Milk for most comes from the store, not a cow.  Milk for most no longer is dependent on reproductive cycles or growing seasons.  My milk changes taste with the weather – a whole new experience for me.  And this milk no longer upsets my stomach.  When I get milk now, I drink nearly a quart as soon as it comes in the house.  Then I carefully ration the rest as long as possible, although it only lasts 5-6 days.  There’s nothing more upsetting than letting the milk go sour, although I then cook with it (or feed it to the animals, who love it sour).  Going back to store bought milk is not an option for me after this experience.  Too bad we can’t keep a goat in our yard.  Well, soon enough…

I am now going to spend a little time trying to figure out my yogurt dilemma and see if I can get that going properly again.  I do use store-bought, pastured milk for making yogurt because I simply cannot get enough of the cow milk to also make yogurt.  I save the live or raw milk for drinking, and use the dead milk (i.e. pasteurized) for yogurt making as I add in culture to bring it back to life and make it healthy again. Earlier this week I almost started to panic as I had no milk, no yogurt, and no bread.  My only quick meals unavailable, and no time or energy for cooking.  I ended up buying lunch on Thursday, which I haven’t done in weeks now (it was perogee day at the cafeteria, so I didn’t suffer).  This week I have salad, borscht, brownies, bread, pumpkin custard, milk and hopefully yogurt.  I got a fair bit of cooking done, but not enough work.  Now to catch up on the work.  I feel like I am always running, and never on top of things.  No wonder I’m tired.  At least this week, I’ll eat well.

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4 Responses

  1. I was drawn to this site to learn more about the interrelationship between food, health and the enviroment. Overall I have found it to be a good resource and has been thought provoking.

    For someone who has the opportunity to impact a lot of people and encourage them to take even small steps in making an impact on food choices, the content as of late seems to be very critical of choices other people make. As for choices that you have made for yourself, please make some new choices that will make you happier. I think that some positiveness in your life will be reflected in the tone of the blog.

  2. Hi Jen – thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I have struggled for a long time about how much personal content I should include. The blog is intended to be about my efforts to live a more sustainable life and explore the choices I make. This is an on-going process with many ups and downs. I find it challenging to discuss the issues without inserting myself into them. Indeed, how these choices impact on my life is part of what I think is important to share.

    I’m curious about your statement that I am being very critical of other people’s choices. Could you please be more specific? I am very critical of the system in which we live, but I do my best not to critique individuals. I believe that most of our “choice” are made for us and that we have far fewer options than appear at first glance. If my language is coming across as critiquing individuals, that is not my intention and I will do my best to address this.

    As for making choices that will lead to greater happiness, that is always my goal and an on-going process. I would love to hear how you have achieved this yourself if you care to share.

  3. I am fortuneate to have full time work, live in a rural neighborhood yet only commute 10 minutes to work. I started off by trying to make my home as energy efficient as possible, and then getting free of fossil fuel dependancy- I had geothermal heating/cooling installed replacing a 20 year old oil furnace. Next will be solar panels to offset electrical consumption and solar thermal for hot water heating.

    I have always had a garden but once I have eaten or given away everything I just go to the grocery store and buy product of Ontario or at least product of Canada produce.

    I have tried raising chickens and ducks but they were just a tasty snack for the coyotes. I do not eat beef as the land requirements to raise beef are an inefficient use of productive land that could be better used to grow edible crops.

    I have never tried to push my goals and ideals onto other people unless my opinion is asked and then I usually refer to websites or books where I have sourced products or information.

    When I am invited out for a meal people often ask if there is anything I don’t eat- my response is that I can eat around anything. There is always soup or salad or veggies, pickles or just dessert to satisfy me if beef is on the table.

    I do not enjoy driving around to source items as I still like ‘one stop shopping’. I doubt that my desire to eat locally would ever lead to giving up items like citrus fruit, bananas or pineapple but I would like to achieve a much higher local rate than I am currently doing.

    I get great pleasure from walking daily, reading, and bird watching. I love just being at home. I also live alone but I am never lonely. I do not have a TV as there is very little that I feel I am missing out on. I refuse to pay ridiculous fees to watch comedies that don’t make me laugh.

    It has taken a good part of my life to find inner peace and feel confident in going against the flow in the direction that I am going in life- self sufficiency here I come!!!

    • Hi Jen,
      I’M sorry it took me so long to reply! It sounds like you have found a very good balance in your life and wonderful inner peace. As you mention, this is a long-term project, one that I am still working on. It is inspiring to hear others share the stories of how they have found where they need to be and I thank you for sharing.

      One quick comment in case you are not aware, products labeled “product of Canada” are not necessary from Canada. The only requirement to receive this label is that 51% of the product cost be incurred in Canada. In other words, foods can be grown in China and shipped to Canada, and if it costs more than 51% of the total cost to package it here, it can be labeled “product of Canada.” This is how you can find “product of Canada” grapefruit juice, for example. This label really means nothing and is no guarantee that what you are eating is safe. While within Canada farmers are held to strict standards, the same is not true for imported food.

      The Product of Ontario, label, I do believe should mean that it was indeed grown in Ontario.

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