My Green City Life

It takes work, but it’s worth it!
August 29, 2007, 11:12 am
Filed under: in the kitchen, your green lifestyle

I am currently reading Michael Pollan’s _The Omnivore’s Dilemma_ and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s one of those books that every so often makes me want to pump my fist in the air and cry, “Yes! Exactly!” I wish it was required reading for every North American who buys food. This morning I read this passage:

To participate in a local food economy requires considerably more effort than shopping at the Whole Foods. You won’t find anything microwaveable at the farmer’s market or in your CSA box, and you won’t find a tomato in December. The local food shopperwill need to put some work into sourcing his food—into learning who grows the best lamb in his area, or the best sweet corn. And then he will have to become reacquainted with his kitchen. Much of the appeal of the industrial food chain is its convenience; it offers busy people a way to delegate their cooking (and food preservation) to others.

This is exactly the reason why eating locally and seasonally is such a huge challenge. Many people don’t have the time or don’t know how to research where to get the best local food. They don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch everyday, and they certainly don’t have time to preserve the area’s harvest at its peak. At least they think they don’t. Rather than going to the farmers market and sorting through what is available, it’s much easier to go to the nearest grocery store where everything is always available and always in the same place. Why can tomatoes when you can buy a can for less than a dollar?

I certainly understand and acknowlege these issues, but I still maintain that anyone (yes, even you!) can move closer to participating in the local food economy if s/he is willing to put just a bit of effort into it. Baby steps. Skip the PopTart and eat cereal with local milk for breakfast. Or scrambled local eggs. Cook a meal from scratch, and I don’t mean Hamburger Helper. It can be on the weekend. Just one meal using as many local ingredients as you can (or are willing to) find, even one is better than nothing. Turn off the TV for an hour or skip on mowing the lawn. Use that time to cook a meal from scratch. Then take the time to enjoy the meal with someone else. What a pleasurable experience!

You can do it. It takes time, it takes practice, and sometimes it takes a little more financially, but you can do it. Start small, and challenge yourself to keep going. You’ll be helping your health, your local economy, and the earth.


My friend the eggplant
August 23, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Last night, as usual, was CSA pick up night. This week we were happy to see two new vegetables: an eggplant and a melon. I was especially delighted with the former because I love eggplant, but also because our eggplant is deformed in a strange and wonderful way. It’s a cute little friend!

Isn’t he great? He even has a tail! I love having him on the table, checking out what’s going on in the world and making me smile whenever I look over. But he seems to be wrinkling prematurely, so he may end up being dinner tonight. Yay for my eggplant friend!

Homegrown herbs
August 22, 2007, 3:28 pm
Filed under: your outdoor space

These four guys make up my tiny urban garden on my balcony. I love having a little bit of living green to call my own.

Clockwise from top left: lovage, basil, mint, Greek oregano.

Weekend Challenge
August 17, 2007, 9:38 am
Filed under: your green lifestyle

It’s Friday! Lazy weekend time, right? I have a challenge for you that I think you will be able to do and still keep your weekend lazy. Over on the non-blog side of this site, I’ve posted 60 ways to go green that are easy and mostly pretty cheap to do. Your challenge is to adopt at least one of them that you don’t already do for the weekend and then see if you can make it stick as a part of your lifestyle. And if you already do all 60 things, good for you, you eco-warrior! Are there any green tricks you use in your life that aren’t on the list? Let us know!

I made the leap
August 16, 2007, 2:24 pm
Filed under: in the bathroom

This past weekend, I visited the Botanical Garden with my mom and one of my sisters. It was beautiful, as always, and a delightful way to spend half a day. The last section we visited before heading home was the Courtyard of the Senses which is devoted to plants that are soft, sticky, rough, prickly, and/or smelly. We had fun crushing all the different leaves and flowers between our fingers and then breathing in the aromas. One of the plants in the soft section caught our attention for a different reason. As my sister put it, the leaves of this certain plant would make really good toilet paper. It got me thinking.

Then today, as luck would have it, we ran out of toilet paper. I thought back to the Botanical Garden and wished I had that plant growing in my bathroom. It was so soft and lovely, so much more sturdy than regular toilet paper. Almost as nice as cloth. *Bing!* That’s the sound of the light going on in my head.

Yes, dear reader, today I made the leap. I cut the sleeves off of an old short-sleeve shirt (because it was there and I really had to go) and had my inaugural cloth toilet paper experience. To make it even sweeter, I let the yellow mellow. 🙂

In the hours since, I have cut up a few squares from an old flannel sheet. I also sewed up a very quick and dirty drawstring bag for stashing the used cloths before laundry day. They all are waiting for me in the bathroom, and I feel very accomplished!

More people, more impact
August 15, 2007, 11:50 am
Filed under: your green lifestyle

My family flew in from the midwest to visit this past week. The quick change from two of us (me + Matt) to six of us (me + Matt + fam) made me realize how many more resources are used when you have a big — or even medium-sized — family. More people means more toilet flushes, which means more water and toilet paper used. It means more food consumed, which means more packaging to throw away/recycle/reuse and more dishes to wash. It means more minds to entertain, which means more money spent on diversions. (In our case, it was mostly low-impact diversions, such as entrance fees to museums and bike rentals.)

Striving to live green in the city (or otherwise) with a family in tow is a big challenge, but it is not impossible. I am happy to report that both of my sisters bragged that they ususally let their yellow mellow, if you know what I mean. My mom brought her own shopping bag, a big one that folds up very small for keeping in one’s purse, which meant that improptu visits to the grocery store didn’t result in using plastic bags. (Yay mom!) My dad campaigned for more meals at home instead of at restaurants on the town. I’m pretty sure this was for money saving reasons, but it has a green effect nonetheless. And I hope that when we spent a morning at the farmers market I impressed upon them the importance of buying local, seasonal food.

Living a green life with more people doesn’t have to mean a bigger negative impact. Enlisting a whole family to make one green change makes a bigger positive impact than if one person alone made the change. More people also means more minds with more ideas. Start talking green with your family (you may interpret that word as you see fit) and see how big a positive impact you can make. You might be surprised!

CSA score
August 9, 2007, 2:49 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen, your green lifestyle

Check out that haul! Our CSA basket keeps getting bigger and bigger each week. This week marks the first appearance of leeks, turnips, butter lettuce, kohlrabi, and (thank the lord) tomatoes! Sadly, the big (huge!) tomato got a bit mushed on the walk home. Happily, that meant we had to eat some of it straight off. Oh. My. Goodness. It was soooo yummy! Finally, a summer tomato that actually tastes like a tomato! Is there anything better?? I literally swooned as I ate it. I told you that I love summer food!

We now have 5 cucumbers in the fridge. Last week we had 8 and somehow managed to consume them all in the form of stuffed cucumbers with herbed cottage cheese, salad, sushi rolls, pickles, gazpacho, and a weird Eastern European sauerkraut casserole thing. But I am running out of ideas. Anyone have a favorite cucumber recipe? My family is in town this week visiting, so hopefully they will enjoy some local, organic cukes.