When I look at the title I think, wow what a large topic to discuss but I can’t seem to find a way to narrow it down. We are learning so much on this topic and are excited to share our learning with you!
(side note, please recognize that these steps and actions are simply the way our family is journeying down this path of minimalism and simple living. Your journey or choices may be different than ours and that is ok. As long as you continue to work towards the overall goal of minimalism – which may also vary hehe). If you want to know our definition check out my first Minimalism blog post here.
Eat Fresh, Eat Local
There is nothing more juicy and refreshing than biting into a fresh, locally grown piece of fruit. There is just so much more flavour my mouth is bursting with delight and my face (and likely hands, and shirt) are covered in fruit juice. There is also nothing more satisfying when it comes to food than harvesting the goodness you grew yourself. Over the past couple years we have realize just how much better fresh food is to processed. Now we don’t have a ton of yard space for a huge vegetable garden so here are a couple ways we try to eat local; eat fresh. (order from best option to best we can do in the situation)
- Grow it ourselves or grow it as a community. Much of our garden and planters are edible (or part of the pollinator pathway which I discuss below), however as I mentioned above we have limited space so as a community/neighbourhood we also worked with the city to plant a large Food Forest which we take turns to care for and have previously purchased a plot in a community garden.
- Buy it from a local farmer or market. We are part of a vegetable farmers share box program. This means that each week a farmer brings his crop into the city and all those who signed up show up each Thurs to pick up our ‘box’ which is filled with delicious seasonal crops. Today we picked up a box full of sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon, musk melon, yellow onion, garlic, purple peppers, jalapeno peppers, black kale, red beets, and basil. We also go regularly as a family to our local markets for fresh produce and ice cream/coffee made by Patrick’s Beans. The fun part about the box is that you don’t know what you are going to get each week and sometimes you get food you have never heard of. When this happens the farmer usually sends an email with some great recipes. Have you ever heard of kohlrabi? I hadn’t until it showed up in our box. Wow, its delicious. Its similar to a potato but healthier… who knew?! Some kohlrabi recipes here.
- Shop the outer rim of the grocery store and look for locally sourced products. Did you know that most groceries stores (at least in Canada) are designed to have the fresh food displayed around the perimeter of the store? Take a closer look next time you shop and see if your local grocery store is set up this way. This means that most of the processed and canned food make up the middle isles. Even with food regulations and health agencies there are still a lot of chemicals and unnecessary ingredients such as extra sugar and salt in canned and processed food. Yes your grocery bill will be more expensive if you shop the perimeter because local and fresh cost more. However we rationalize our purchases with these reflections. a) My and my family’s health and wellbeing is important to me which is greatly impacted by what we eat, b) cheaper usually doesn’t mean better and ends up costing more some how, or some where else in my life, and c) what in my life can I decrease or change so that I have more money to buy fresh, and eat local?
Have you ever walked into your house after someone has baked homemade bread, cookies, or muffins? The smell emanates throughout the house. My mouth is salivating now as I think about it. A similar thought process occurs for eating homemade food – make it yourself or as a community, or buy it local. A couple years ago I made fresh bread with my bread maker and loved it! One day my bread maker broke and sadly, even though I replaced it (second hand of course), I just haven’t gotten back into it. This is one of my goals! On the other hand, as a family we have tried to eat more handmade or ‘from scratch’ meals, as well as dabbled in making Dill pickles and jams. Next on my list is learning to make red pepper jelly! I also recently bought a Kombocha kit which I am super excited about, the only problem is the scoby totally grosses me out!
My daughter and I made this Chia Seed Strawberry jam together – it was simple, easy, and delicious! Recipe card @ bottom of post. We had rhubarb from our farm box so we decided to make strawberry rhubarb jam. In order to customize our recipe we took the 1 pound strawberries it calls for and changed it to 1/2 a pound of strawberries and 1/2 a pound of rhubarb. If I make the strawberry-rhubarb jam again I will likely do 60/40 ratio, adding more strawberries, as I like my jam sweet. Enjoy!
Eat Less Red Meat
I once read this article on the top 3 ways to have the smallest ‘footprint’ when it comes to impact on the earth. The top 3 ways were 1) Don’t have kids – well too late for that I already have two, 2) Don’t own a car – also challenging as my job requires me to have a vehicle, however we try to bike or walk when we can and need to continue to improve, and 3) Don’t eat red meat. Red meat (and therefore livestock) is very hard on the planet and on our bodies to digest. My meat-a-tarian husband says he can’t go without meat as he loves it too much, however we have drastically cut down and started having meals with no meat and have definitely limited the amount of red meat we consume. The interesting thing is that now when my husband eats red meat he often has a sore stomach after… clearly not great for our bodies!
Give back to Mother Nature
In my opinion, part of living simply is also finding ways to give back to creation/mother nature since we as humans take so much. There are so many different ways you can do this. We are always looking for ways to do this in our daily lives such as recycling, composting, having less waste, buying less so you have less to discard etc. The one I want to highlight that we recently learned about is becoming part of the pollinator pathway. In North America (and possibly elsewhere) bees are in danger as their species struggles to survive. And without bees we will also struggle to survive as they are so imperative to our food sources. In our community a group started The Pollinator Pathway project, which is essentially people creating a pollinating garden (a specific garden for bees and butterflies) on their property and joining together as a city to ensure there is a easy and sustainable path for the bees to travel. I’m not doing this project justice so be sure to check out their website for better information and to learn more – Pollinator Pathway Project.
Summary – ok i’ll wrap it up here for now…
The last and very important thing I want to share with you today is that while your figuring out how to live simply when it comes to food remember these two things…. 1) Simple doesn’t mean easier, in fact it likely means harder, learning curve, and more time consuming (especially at first). Therefore, be very patient with yourself and persevere. 2) Food is meant to be shared. We were created to break bread together and be in community. So, whatever good decisions you make, make sure you share in this journey with others!
~ Recipe ~
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