Go here if you need a refresher on the Great Lent Experiment (AKA our own mutiny against excess).
Let me just say this now: I love food.
Before, I never used to think much about it, except that I loved it and needed it constantly. Then came a baby, a health scare (the hubs blood pressure was SKY high), and the overall need to make some lifestyle changes. We did a week long detox diet in January of 2011 (we basically ate whole foods, and no caffeine, sugar, corn, soy, gluten, or dairy) which kickstarted out desire to eat food that was actually food. We watched all sorts of scary documentaries and made decisions about where our money should go. We started off by changing the way we bought eggs, dairy, and most meat. Then, my neighbor told me about a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that she wanted us to participate in.
I had never heard of a CSA before, but it is basically a share you buy in a local farm. You pay the money upfront, and then you get your share of fruits and veggies once a week for as long as the season is. What sold me on this particular CSA is that my neighbors (refugees from Bhutan) were the growers. Mercy Corps had started a program where they set up refugees with plots of land all throughout the city where they could grow food and then sell it through the CSA program. It is wonderful, because many of the refugees grew up farming in traditional ways–no pesticides or chemicals for them. So it was a perfect fit for a city that was starting to get really into the organic and local way of eating.
We forked over our money and then began a great culinary adventure. I am not going to lie: there were a lot of beets and radishes and many other things I still am not quite sure what they were. But we ate it, man, and I learned how to cook it. We were forced to eat seasonably, to incorporate vegetables into every meal, to learn how to cook and use and be creative in order to not let things spoil. We ate like the pioneers, and it felt great.
And we learned that what you eat and how you spend your money on food really is a matter of social justice. We are in a win-win-win situation now, since buying delicious, fresh, organic produce directly benefits our neighbors. We are healthier (we both dropped a substantial amount of weight), we are supporting our community, and we now know how to cook parsnips (sorta).
No matter where you live, this option is available to you. You just might have to search it out. As this week has shown me, if you do without in one area (say, eating chicken McNuggets–just a hypothetical, that is totally not my most favorite food in the world) you will have enough money to buy food from local farmers. The impact of these small purchases might seem silly, but they add up to a more just way of eating. As Jen Hatmaker writes in 7, we vote with our dollars every day. And that actually counts for a lot more than our votes for a president.
If you live in the Portland area, I would encourage you to check out the Grow Portland CSA program. You will directly be benefiting my neighbors, as well as yourself. I will even come over and show you how to make radish-leaf pesto.
As for this week?
The hubs and I are poor, so one of the only ways we “get out” is to go walk and get a cup of coffee. This week? We just . . . walked. Imagine that! I did miss my Americanos, I will admit.
I did make a killer clean-out-your-pantry-and-freezer minestrone soup.
We did manage to save some money.
We did not go to the grocery store!
True Confessions: I did buy a cup of coffee for someone (they lived at the Simple Way, OK?) and I also bought my younger sister dinner. I was at the Justice Conference. This is my only excuse.
But not going out to coffee does seem to leave some extra cash around, and the hubs and I both want to be more generous people. So instead of going out to a coffee shop to do my writing, I will just hole up in my room for awhile. When its nice, we will just walk and look at the trees. When we are bored, we will go to New Seasons and eat the free samples, and not buy anything. Because we are classy like that. I think we can keep this up for the entire period of Lent.
We will be donating our money saved from this week (and the rest of Lent) here. Please pray about joining us.
So how has Week 1 been for you?
I want to know! If you are blogging about it, please tell me in a comment so we can all share!
And . . . tomorrow I will post the guidelines for Week 2.