The other day I was making a belated breakfast for myself. As I was assembling this quick meal of picnic dregs, it struck me that two of the ingredients fitted into the ‘local, ethical and awesome’ category, and one did not. So I took a photo.
Then i posted the photo with a caption that read:
“The most incredible Coppa made from local, happy pigs, local cheese and, er, distinctly un-local vitawheats. 80% awesome, 20% reality.”
The reaction was what I expected – an obligatory ‘you’re a murderer’ (I just delete or let that stuff slide these days, the why of which is another conversation) comment, a few ‘yep, me too’ types and a bunch of ‘you know what you could have done to make it 100% awesome’ comments.
But this breakfast was 100% awesome, to me. As always, it comes down to context.
It was 38 degrees celcius outside that day. Which meant that baking bread or crackers or anything else requiring any sort of baking was out.of.the.question.
Why? Because we have a woodstove. Which we run off fallen timber and thinnings from our forest, in a quest for a life based on resilient, low-footprint cooking solutions.
Could I have devised alternative baking stations? Sure I could have. I could have dedicated half of yesterday to using my mother in law’s gas oven over the hill. I could have.
I could have built an outside woodfired double-chambered cobb pizza oven by now, and have spent 6 hours baking in that, yesterday. All true.
But I didn’t. And I haven’t.
In other words, I’m not fully engaged in The Home Economy.
This is not a rant or an apology for having vitawheats in the cupboard for those days when we need them. Truly. I’m ok with it.
What I am more and more aware of, however, is that, for anyone living between the worlds of The Home Economy and The Current Economy, this happens all the time. Of course.
My friend who was too busy/tired from prepping and teaching sourdough-making classes to make bread for her family, and who ended up at the supermarket buying bread so there was something for school lunches, shaking her head at herself all the while.
The time we home-slaughtered and processed three pigs, then immediately went to visit family and, because of work commitments and detours associated with teaching sustainable living, showed up with no home-grown meat, and ended up going to the supermarket for sausages.
My other friend who was so busy building online tools for regenerative farmers and trying to meet the deadline that he ended up living on 2-minute noodles for a week, so that he could get it all done and keep his promises to others.
My point is this: if we (or any of my friends above) were fully engaged in The Home Economy, we might have avoided such ironic incidents. But then, if we were fully engaged in The Home Economy, we wouldn’t have much time to do anything else.
You can make it all at home yourself. It’s true.
If you choose to dedicate 100% of your time to it, you can grow, cook, make, scavenge, barter and devise prettymuch everything you ‘need’ to live a healthy life. Hooray for homesteading.
Sometimes I wish that was me. Focussed on investing my heart and soul and life entirely in The Home Economy. I know some incredible folks that choose to live like that, and they are some of my heroes.
But. I guess, apon reflection, we’ve chosen not to.
We try to be as DIY as we possibly can, but we also run a small business, have employees, run a truck, do marketing, teach in the city, advocate, consult, encourage, blog, create spreadsheets, and drink coffee. Sometimes out of takeaway cups, if we’ve forgotten our re-usable ones.
All in the name of encouraging up-skilling and being the change and awareness of our capacities to design and implement solutions as well as problems and all that sort of thing.
When we travel down to the city for teaching, there’s an eski of home-made passata and veggies and stewed fruits and meat in the truck. There’s a thermos and bottles of water. There’s containers of home-dried apple.
We bring what we can. Mostly because sourcing clean food in the city is costly, and this way we can eat as healthily as we can while we’re doing what we do.
Which doesn’t make us heroes, it just makes us people who want to rely on our own resources and food that we know is clean, where possible.
But by the end of a weekend in the city, we’ve always cleaned out the eski and we’re munching on salad rolls and coffees from the corner store like everyone else in Redfern. And then we get to go home again, recoup, and keep on with it all.
All in all, I’m completely ok with this balance.
I figure that if you’re going to engage partially with The Current Economy for whatever reason, you probably have to accept that you can’t engage 100% in The Home Economy at the same time.
I do think that aspects of home-grown, locally sourced and organic living can be incorporated into anyone’s life, no matter what. It can be as simple as things like sprouts on the windowsill, kombucha on the shelf, a worm-farm in the laundry, taking your lunch with you.
But I also think we need to stop beating ourselves up, or worse, beating others up about this sort of thing. Use what you have, do what you can.
Back to that photo I took. The reason why I wanted to share it was to share the glittering irony of The Ethics of Almost.
This picture says a lot of things to me. It says that I am fortunate enough to live in a place where I can access amazing local, ethically produced clean food. It says that I don’t have a summer oven, and that it is hot.
It says that I do (cringe) choose to go to woolworths, to buy time-saving staples like butter and pasta and back-up bread substitutes. In a small town like ours, the alternative outlets are few.
It says that I’m smirking at myself, eyes wide open. That aiming to live lightly is a balance of available resources, and choices, and priorities.
A big thing. And a very small thing. It’s nothing. But it also matters.
Will I one day hit the point where everything we eat is from scratch and we’re simultaneously doing everything else that we see as important to do? Probably not.
But will we always grow some of our own food, and make most things ourselves, and consider the choices that we make? Hell yes.
Here’s to doing your best and being grateful for what you have.