Small Changes: February 2011

by Rachael on February 1, 2011

January’s small change was a resounding success, and just in time, too. The plan was to buy local apples only, the idea being that following through on this plan would get us (i.e., Beckett and the Critter) to the local farmers’ market, where we would be likely to indulge on even more local produce. And indulge we did: in local squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, eggs, and even spinach! Yes, spinach! We can get dark leafy greens from local sources even in winter! Even in Brooklyn! I’m told that kale and collard greens and who knows what else have been available at the market, in addition to the spinach. Excellent!

I say “just in time,” though, because this news has got me completely disheartened. And, frankly, it’s not Monsanto that’s pissing me off (it’s Monsanto, what do you expect?) so much as Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms. I’m restraining myself from dropping a lot of F-bombs here, but SERIOUSLY? @#$% you, Stonyfield Farms, I mean REALLY @$% YOU. I doubt that boycotting Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms will change a damn thing (we don’t really shop at Whole Foods), but I also don’t really want to give them any more of my money. Except … virtually all of our dairy comes from them. Argh.

I’m feeling overwhelmed. The small change I was planning to make for February just feels so, so stupidly small. Stupid stupid stupid. But, though January’s small change was successful, January was otherwise not such a great month. Right now I need to take it easy, take better care of myself. It’s not the time for me or my family to be making sweeping, grandiose changes. So, what do to?

Well, folks, here’s the plan for February:

  • Stick with the original plan for the month, which is to take the first step in the direction of baking more of our bread instead of buying it from the store. That first step? Just bake one loaf of this bread (via Blue Milk). Just one loaf … because I’m sure that once I bake one, I’ll want to make more.
  • Look ahead to March, April, May, and so on with questions, such as, How much further can we go with this farmers’ market thing? Can we get yogurt from local sources? Cheese? Milk? What other dairy do we eat, anyway? And, hell, how hard is it to make your own yogurt? (They make it at Zen Mountain Monastery, and my impression is that while it may or may not be difficult, it’s definitely time consuming.)
  • Meanwhile, find something besides cheese sandwiches to give the Critter for his twice-a-week school lunches. Will you eat my homemade hummus, Critter? Please, please, please???

What changes have you been making in your kitchen? Please do share! I’m no foodie, so I’m hungry for good ideas!

Check out the One Small Change blog and Facebook page for more ideas about environmentally friendly changes you can make.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Seonaid February 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Making your own yogurt is very easy, but we don’t do it because it costs more to make yogurt from mainstream milk as it costs to buy organic. Something to do with the way milk prices are set in Canada; our factory-farmed milk is even $8 a gallon.

I am also really upset about the GMO alfalfa and the fact that the organic powers-that-be can’t come up with a better solution than demanding compensation. Can’t spell the sound I’m making, but it involves guttural spluttering.

Bake bread. It is liberating. It was my very first step, long before there was local anything, or organic produce on the shelves. Look how far it has brought me. :)

Oh! I just started sprouting green lentils. They are ready to eat in about 2 days, and they are nice and crunchy, and almost free, and you only need a mason jar. Or a large glass that you can do without for a couple of days. Soak for about 4 hours, tip off the water. Rinse 2 or 3 times a day until you have eaten them all. That’s it. I like them better than mung beans and they sprout astonishingly quickly.

Good luck with Critter’s lunches. I feel your pain.
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Rachael February 7, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Do the lentils need lots of light in order to sprout? We do get bright light in the bedroom, but no direct light anywhere in the apartment.

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Seonaid February 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Lentils are the most forgiving sprouts I’ve ever grown. I just set them down wherever I can find a sort of shady spot. When they are sprouting they don’t need any light, but unlike mung beans, they don’t need dark either. Until I was in practice, I left them on the back of my bathroom sink so I would remember to rinse them when I brushed my teeth. They’re edible within 48 hours, and they keep being yummy for at least a few days (although they start sprouting roots fairly quickly, so they look sort of strange.)
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Rachael February 7, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Ooo, “sort of shady” sounds like our apartment!

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Aunty Birdie February 1, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Hello!
I’ve been doing that bread recipe for a month or so now (as well as on and off for a few years). I mix the dough on Sunday afternoon (the Noodle “helps” by dumping the ingredients in the bowl) and let it sit on top of the fridge overnight. Then late morning Monday I dump the dough on the counter with some flour, kneed it a bit, wrap it in a towel with corn meal and let it sit for a few hours. At lunch time I heat the oven as instructed (with the covered pot inside for 30 minutes) then bake. By dinner time it has cooled and we have soup, salad, and bread. Then there is plenty left for another meal, usually grilled cheese sandwiches or a frittata (from local eggs we get with our deep winter share). It’s been great. I always hate buying fancy loaves of bread for $3, $4, even $5. This is just a good and costs WAY less. I also want to try some variations. Lately I’ve been doing half white flour, half whole wheat. Just bought some King Arthur “white” whole wheat which a less nutty and not as strong tasting. Though I love whole wheat. Just wanted to give it a try. Anyway, call me if you want me to talk you through it…
We just picked up our latest deep winter farm share on Friday and I’m really excited that 5 out of 7 dinners this week will feature fresh, local produce. With the deep winter share and the regular share we’ll be “covered” for 10 months out of the year. The best part is the fresh greens: spinach the first pick-up and salad mix this last time. There is also a pretty awesome farmers market in Somerville on Saturday mornings that I want to check out one week. But with this horrid weather it’s tough to get over there…
We’ve been eating a lot of cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches for lunch over here. She likes them; what can you do?

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Hip Mountain Mama February 1, 2011 at 5:41 PM

I am so thrilled to hear you Jan change was a success…and please don’t beat yourself up about having a small Feb change…after all the idea is all about making changes in your life that are do able, however small they may be. I actually had a month last year where the only thing I did was to reflect on my past changes…and one month I made it my goal to tell 10 people about the project. So, you see some months call for extra small changes, or even a month off some times. The important thing is that you are working towards living a more eco friendly lifestyle! thanks for being a part of the project!
Suzy
p.s. if you feel up for sharing your change with our readers, we are always looking for guest writters!

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Rachael February 7, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Ah, but I am so, so good at beating myself up, and at times the problem seems so, so, so much bigger than I am. But if small changes are changes I can make, I’ll keep on doing them. Over time, they’ll add up to something so much bigger. Thanks, Suzy, for organizing the project! I’ll be sending you an e-mail shortly….

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Michelle @ The Parent Vortex February 1, 2011 at 5:48 PM

I bake bread and make yoghurt – neither are particularly difficult, and the time consuming part of both is mostly waiting around (for the bread to rise, for the milk to cool or set). For me, both are significantly cheaper, as long as I don’t count the cost of my time. I can buy a litre of organic milk for $2.50 and it makes a litre of organic yoghurt, which is at least half the price of a tub of store-bought organic yoghurt.

I followed the yoghurt-making tutorial here: http://foodthatnourishes.blogspot.com/2008/06/making-yogurt-how-to-make-yogurt-at.html
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MyGreenMouth February 1, 2011 at 10:31 PM

I made yogurt once. While time consuming-ish, it don’t recall it needing much attending to. And then I used it to make herbed yogurt cheese, which was fantastic! Better than cream cheese! The PSFC gets our organic milk from another source. I can’t rem the name though. Is it possible to get organic milk from a PSA share?

Nothing particularly new going on in my kitchen, but I will be using some of my organic pureed pumpkin soon … I made it back in October, used some then and froze the rest. And now, I’m coming up with a plan for how I want to use the rest!
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Amber February 2, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Making small changes that work for you, and you can sustain, is really the way to go. The little things add up. Don’t beat yourself up, in the meantime. :)

And making yogurt takes time, but not effort. As in, you set it up and leave it overnight, that kind of thing.
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Liz February 2, 2011 at 11:54 PM

Your change is definitely stupid or small. Think of the impact it will have on your family’s health and well-being. I consider that huge. Small changes lead to movements, no? Why’ll it’s disheartening about Organic, Inc. and incredibly troubling, there really needs to be vocal opposition — think another Upton Sinclair — to not only expose, but become a leader.

The small change I’ve made in my kitchen is to get back to cooking. I put it off for at least 8 weeks. In that time, I forgot at a pain in the a** it tends to be. All the time spent looking for a recipe, then making the recipe, then no one likes it, and then clean up. The change is finding the time/strength/whatev to stick with it.
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Rachael February 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM

My secret to making the time in the kitchen easier on me: I have about six recipes that I make again and again and again, built in part around the vegetables that the Critter will actually eat. So far, no-one’s complaining. And my husband does most of the clean-up.

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Rachael February 7, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Thanks everyone, for all the encouragement! I think that my small change for March will be to make some yogurt! Though first I need to find a source for the milk….

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