Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's all about priorities

Since announcing my Plastic Free November project, I've been doing a bit of thinking, much of it sparked by an aquaintence who scoffed at me over the amount of time I'd have to spend shopping and cooking from scratch. "What a waste!", they sneered.

I'll concur with their point - it does take a little more time. Yesterday, for example, I needed some broad beans for dinner. It would have been much faster to jump in my car (let's presume that I actually own a car, and know how to drive one!), joining the hoards on the road, spewing pollution and carbon emissions as I went, and then lunge into the supermarket, getting a plastic packet of cheapie imported broad beans from the energy-guzzling freezer, then driving back home to quickly throw them in a saucepan, without the hassle of removing them from their pod.

Much, much faster, but at what cost?

Instead I spend an hour or two at the start of each month doing a monthly menu plan, based on what is currently in season. I love this time - I happily dig out all my cookbooks and food magazines and daydream about fabulous meals, drooling as I go. Then, a few times each week, I take Grumbles in hand after consulting my plan (no asking "what's for dinner?" at our place, we always know!) and we sally forth upon our feet down to the local shops, stopping to natter to shopkeepers and friends as we go. It's not quick, but damn it's enjoyable.

Then we walk home, savouring the fresh air and sunshine, or rain if it's that sort of day, chattering about the shoes hung over power lines ("Grumbles, is that where we keep our shoes?" "NOOOOOOOOOO, bwahahahhah!"), listening to the birds, pausing to scratch the bellies of neighbourhood cats. Then we plonk ourselves on the front stoop, scrap bowl and broad beans in hand, and shell them together. Grumbles learns about food, and locality, and the importance of community, and I enjoy watching her learn and blossom, proud to stand by and watch her showing Max the book shop man her new shoes, and informing Zota the cheese shop owner that we're having pasta with broad beans for dinner tonight.

I'm sorry, but I don't consider that to be a waste of time at all. The hand-shelled broadies win for me, every time.


  1. how mean spirited is your acquaintance! time spent thinking about, buying for, preparing and sharing food together is precious and life enahncing - it is part of what makes us human. my favourite time of the week is friday morning when w and i stop at the "bun shop", go to the greengrocer's and butchers' and perhaps a cafe and w and i assess what's on offer and choose what to have for dinner. my kids have always played a big role in planing and cooking meals - how else are they going to get life skills and learn what it is to be a family and to be part of a community. grrr to that person!!

    btw i sent an email around at work advertising plastic free november so i'm living up to commitment #3 already! and if nothing else it has promoted discussion of the issue.

    go jorth!

  2. oh and my kids can shell peas AND polish silver - which will be useful if they ever need to go into service....

  3. mmm, we had broad bean pasta last night too, with coriander and chilli. Grace does not eat any cooked vegetable except broccoli but she did sample a few plain cooked broad beans. Because they were from Nana's garden and she helped shell them. Which was pleasant and hilarious (she liked popping them out - with accompanying fart sounds).

    So totally not a waste of time.

  4. Blogger is being a pain,so I hope you don't get this 3 times!

    Hoorah, hoorah! I remember sitting on the kitchen step and shelling peas with my Mum( and I'm now 49).

    Grumbles will thank you always for this.

    ps Broad bean risotto is also very tasty.

  5. I have spent many hours shelling fresh peas...the quality over frozen peas is no comparison. Not a waste of time AT ALL!!!

    I've been looking into cheesemaking, and think I'm going to give it a try. How's THAT for a waste of time?? lol

  6. I think your plan sounds ideal. We do it week by week, but because we both work full-time we tend to have a few solid meal selections we know the family will eat. We do a big weekend cook up for lunches through the week and keep lists for when the next shop needs to be done - though I admit we do often have to do a last-minute run because teens are not very good at alerting people to the fact they've eaten the last of the staples. And yes, shop local. I am guessing your friend lives in a city and works full-time, possibly even commutes to work ???? I do get that it's harded, but it's all about choice and I think you've made a good one.

  7. I loved this post -- I have been doing a bit of this sort of thing myself lately and it's very nice indeed. G'luck with Plastic Free Nov. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Hmmph, how rude to be dismissive of how someone else has chosen to spend their time, especially when there are so many clear benefits! Obviously not everyone has the same luxury of time - or, indeed location - but even so, hmmmph, I say!

  9. well said.

    the quality of your life outdistances that acquaintance's hurried existence by so many leagues that *you* ought to be the one sneering.

    and yet i imagine you have risen above. because sneering? now *that* would be a waste of time.

  10. exactamundo.

    your routine was much more enjoyable to *read* even.

    I get tired of people eye-boggling when they find out I dont' drive and that I can only buy what fits under the pram, so I have to be thrifty and thoughtful ( no 30-pack of Coke cans for us ! )


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