The food really is the most fun part of this. Most of the other categories are satisfying to accomplish, but really do mean giving up things. The family time you gain by not watching television is something that is a side benefit of lowering electricity, but you could have community with a high electric usage, or loneliness with a low one. Food, on the other hand, means giving up soulless processed food and gaining good food. It means planting things and seeing them reach up their little leaves going WHEEEE *stretches up arms to demonstrate*, and having more parsnips than you really know what to do with, and discovering adorable little stripy eggplants, and hearing newly-sealed jars make little pinging noises as they declare that you will have tasty food to eat this winter. Yes, I eat fewer mushrooms and nuts and tropical fruit, and don’t eat at restaurants very often. But I find that unless I’m actually there at the grocery store seeing the beautiful mangos, I don’t tend to want them. And having a piece of tropical fruit every few months is a perfectly reasonable luxury so long as you’re otherwise eating sustainably. I couldn’t give up chocolate so long as I can afford it, but I can buy organic fair-trade chocolate in small quantities. Same with tea — and there may be a locally sourced herbal tea company that I haven’t found yet. I like camelia sinensis, but I’m perfectly happy with a good herbal blend. I almost never cook with sugar these days, but instead I buy vast quantities of honey and support a local organic apiary.
I am joining Urban Hennery’s Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. It’s only slightly more rigorous than the Riot is anyway, but I think it will be a good challenge both to have one day a week when dinner must be almost entirely local, and to post menus. Hopefully I’ll pick up more fascinating things to do with root vegetables from other participants. My local dinner will be Fridays. That’s generally an at least somewhat special dinner, and one that I almost always prepare entirely by myself, so Ben doesn’t need to worry about giving up his impulse to put ginger and miso in everything. If Friday is a potluck or something, I’ll eat local another day.
Supporting this whole eating-local thing will be the bushel of winter vegetables we’re picking up on Sunday (we get another one in December). If we can’t find a ride from either a friend or a fellow shareholder, we’ll get a taxi. If all else fails, we will schlep it on bikes, making several trips, but that’s a last-resort measure. Also this weekend, we will be receiving a delivery of 20 pounds of Florida grapefruit direct from the orchard, with part of the price going to support a friend’s chorus. I haven’t had citrus fruit in months, and this is going to be *really good* citrus! I need to find out how sustainable their growing methods are before we buy any more of it, but I’m counting this in the “reasonably sustainable luxury” category for now. Our little mud-room cold storage nook will be so full.