Help! I need YOU.

I need your help. I hear frequently from people who get what I do that it’s overwhelming. And those are the people who want to do this and understand the difference it makes. But trying to communicate this to people who are just beginning to consider sustainability is not going so well.

You see, I was just over at Planet : Home with a table set up in between a small table of “green” products and a table demonstrating canning. Because of the kiddos I wasn’t able to be at the table the whole time but I had a board up with my list of the top 5 things I think you can do to make BIG changes.

Top 5 Things You can Do to Make Your Kitchen More Sustainable
1. Eat only seasonally – no need to preserve.
2. Grow your own or buy only local, organic, sustainably produced vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, meats and grains.
3. Learn to properly store things to eliminate waste

  • cellar long storing things like potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squashes, apples
  • ferment short storing things like cucumbers, carrots, beets, cabbage
  • dry fuits
  • freeze or can things you would otherwise be tempted to buy during the off season (peas, tomatoes, berries)
  • 4. Ditch the grocery store – Grind your own and learn to make from scratch
    5. Compost

    These things would make what was on the tables flanking me obsolete.

    I watched as people came and looked at the items on the table, picking up the Mrs. Meyers (which I consider more greenwashing than green and could be easily replaced by baking soda, vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s), the compostable toilet bags (which you don’t need if you don’t have wet waste) and then gravitate over to the canning table (which you don’t need if you eat seasonally all the time.)

    On my table I had books about fermenting, cheesemaking, gardening and baking. I had a grain grinder for folks to try it out and see that it was indeed the same size as a burr coffee grinder and smaller than an espresso machine. I had a jar of spelt.

    They would read the board for a moment, shake their heads when I asked if they wanted to know about anything in specific, and then move on.

    I’m trying to think of ways to let people know they can start with small steps. You don’t need to rip out your entire lawn. You can buy that produce from a farmer’s market or at PCC when they have it (and you can encourage them to carry it more frequently).

    You don’t need to learn to can or dry or freeze or ferment or cellar if you simply eat in season.

    And if you stop buying processed foods you won’t have any waste that is not compostable or recyclable.

    I’m still trying to come up with a good way to present this information to people in a way that makes it simple for them to understand. I think part of the problem is this is a HUGE paradigm shift. Moving away from a largely grain based and nutritionally-bereft diet towards a more seasonal, nutrient dense diet is a huge shift for folks.

    But it is THE thing you can do to become more sustainable. Healthier. Leaner and Greener.

    If you have ideas on how best to present this apparently ground breaking information – Help! I’m all ears. Just not ears of corn.

    39 Responses to Help! I need YOU.

    1. So can anyone eat seasonally? I live in Northern Utah — not too much grows in the winter. Hence we can a lot.

    2. I agree. What’s seasonal February? That’s why canning, drying and freezing are useful. What’s wrong with preserving food?

    3. Was this an event that people who were interested in this stuff would be at or was it more of an event everyone would go to? I know I would’ve been at your table the whole time! If it was more for people who aren’t into it all yet, it can seem too overwhelming and they probably think “Yeah Right, ditch the grocery store?”. I know you did it all immediately, but you are by far the exception! =) I have been on this journey for almost two years now and we’re not as sustainable as I’d like to be but we are far from where we started. We are continually making progress, just slow. Maybe if you started off more basic, like take a trip to the farmers market, pick your favorite bread/pasta/etc and try to make it at home, …little steps that will build up to life changes and from there they might want more information and then have your second “BIG” list saying what your list did, but list it as the ultimate goal.

    4. Annette, what kind of grain grinder do you use? I’m ready to get one for flour and other baking, but don’t want to spend a couple hundred dollars and I don’t have much counter space. Thanks. It sounds like you might have a smaller one?

    5. I second Sara. I am one of those “just thinking about it” people and I will admit I haven’t gotten much farther than just thinking about it. Part of it is, I think any one of the top five things you list is a massive goal in and of itself. Maybe next year at Planet:Home you might focus on one item – like buying stuff locally – and point out the resources for what people can do immediately to *start* moving that direction. Showing all of it at once may well have put folks into sensory overload. =)

      And btw, I love your spunk and that you are showing by example it CAN be done. I am deeply inspired by reading how you are doing it all.

    6. Ditto on being deeply inspired by you, Annette. I’m not sure if I have any good ideas to spur people along, but in my gut I think that people move slowly by nature and are hard to change. Pessimistic? Maybe. That said, what you are doing, and your energy for it, are huge.

    7. I am surprised more people aren’t showing interest, but people seem to need tangible things to look at, touch or buy.

      Perhaps showing examples of what is seasonal? A list of what is in season, when, in your area?

      In our area nothing is in season from October through April, so the best I can do is preserve food when it is in season. Your area I’m sure is different, but perhaps your table visitors can’t see how.

      Hope it goes better tomorrow!


    8. It’s been one of those weeks where co-existing in harmony is frustrating me too. I am on this bent about people who find making good and wholesome food too much effort, favouring rather frozen, precooked rice from the box store or such. You know what I’m talking about.

      People as a society are very passive. I could understand why you were getting the looks you were. Because what the sustainable lifestyle requires is creativity, thought, planning, and passion. All that together severely lacking in today’s culture.

      I am a big admirer of what you have done to decrease your consumption and hope that you will not let the people’s disinterest you experienced today deter you from your passion and mission.

      Thanks for all the efforts you have put into and continue to put into your blog!

    9. When you’re growing your own food, canning can suddenly become very, very important … says she who’s getting 6-8 cucumbers a *day*. O_O

      Our garden is so productive that I’m *having* to can to keep up with the food. And that’s *with* sharing our food with family and friends. I really should figure out a food dehydrator of some flavor as well.

      I wish I could help you with the suggesting to people about babysteps, but part of the problem is that people look to buy things as solutions. Consumption to deal with consumption … it’s kind of depressing. /:

    10. What a great question and something I wonder about as well. Recently we had some family (cousin and wife) live with us for 2 months. It’s interesting to see the changes they have made in their lifestyle now that they are in their own house after living with us. They just built a compost pile and are planning a garden. Not sure if they would have thought of all this a few months ago.

      You are doing a great job leading by example and I think that’s the best way. It’s hard to influence a group of people you don’t know. You have no foundational relationship built up with them. I think a booth at a show is a hard sell. Maybe having classes or creating an environment where you can get to know people would be a better way.

      Changing takes time, I’m incredibly impressed with how much you’ve changed in such a short time. I’m about 8 months into the process and still have a long way to go. But baby steps are important and I’m working a little more each month to eliminate all the junk out of our diet. I’ve also recently begun to tackle the house cleaning issues of being green as well.

      I agree with suggesting small things. Food is a big one for people- it’s hard to think about giving things up! But showing how easy it can be to bake your own bread or make things from scratch would be a good start. I think maybe narrowing down your focus next time would be a good idea. Have recipes for seasonal food- if it’s a fall booth, then have recipes for things that are available in the fall. Have a chart of what’s in season and when in your area– most people have no idea! (that would make a great handout!) I still struggle with that a lot. But shopping at my local farmer’s market helps you figure that out! Have a list of blogs and web resources of where you can find more information on living sustainably. Sometimes people don’t have the time to research it, but would make changes if someone guided them to the right information.

    11. It is hard to get people to envision what this would look like on a day to day basis. While I already do what you’re saying, it has taken me a few years to get here. I can things like tomatoes, peaches and salsas. Freeze a few things like green beans and peas. The rest is storage foods.

      I think one previous poster had a great idea. Maybe you could have boards showing pictures and menu ideas of what eating seasonally would look like. Most people have no idea what is in season in the winter. Just because there are no huge gardens of tomatoes and corn, doesn’t mean there is no food.

    12. Lots of things working against you – first of all living more sustainably and/or more simply requires work. You and I both know it is rewarding work – but it is work none the less. Most people overfill their lives with time wasting entertainment and rushing around to commitments that are at the heart of it not that incredibly important – but they feel like they have no time and cannot imagine doing anything that required my direct labor to achieve.

      Someone already commented about the idea of just zeroing in on one element of your list – and doing more to show how that works, what it looks like, how it can fit into a modern life.

      I have to say that I also firmly believe in canning and food preservation – as even in a climate that allows me to grow a four season harvest garden (which not everyone can as easily do outside of our region) the production is still much much lower than the summer and the seasonal food I put by supplements my gardens fresh produce.

      The last thing I would suggest is to try and remove or soften the tone of judgement for choices that are not the same as yours have been. While you desire to get your message across in it’s entirety – someone not doing all those things collectively may end up with the impression that they are making bad choices. Based on what you posted it sounds like it had an all or nothing impression to the messaging. I personally do not want to do absolutely all of those things – as I know that does not fit with my life – but I strive to do many of them! I think some slight changes in the messaging, zeroing in more fully on just one element, and maybe having a hand out with your list on it as a take away (with some links to more info) would be a good way to achieve greater success next time.

      You really are inspirational but you are fairly far along on a continuum of change and that can be a little overwhelming for someone just seeing it for the first time.

    13. It’s great that you’re working so hard to share what you’ve learned and to encourage others!
      “Ditch the grocery store” is the most powerful statement on the list – it could be a title or header and then list how to ditch it (with items 1-3). I think what I would most appreciate would be take-away lists of resources – recommendations of grinders and where to buy and sources for grains, meats, etc. Especially for grains and dairy. I’m guessing it might be an easier transition for people to change where they purchase (like you mention with the farmers market) as opposed to starting to produce their own. There’s also a quicker return. Maybe a take-away with “If you’re ready to….” and then give resources. If you’re ready to purchase local, pastured eggs, here’s a list of farmers or where to buy. If you’re ready to make your own bread, here’s a recipe or a site. Just brainstorming :)

    14. The only thing that has ever made a friend WANT to try to do some of the things I do is when I say how stupidly inexpensive it is. Admittedly, I am not as sustainable as your family is, but when I say that I feed my family of four for well under $150 each month, THAT gets their attention. When I say I wash my laundry for pennies a load (for the soap), THAT gets their attention. When I tear out half my yard and plant tomatoes, THAT gets their attention. I started all this because I had to put my pocketbook ahead of my time, and was shocked and a little angry to find out that what I was doing wasn’t difficult, was better for the environment, and was SO CHEAP. (For another example, cloth diapers. Not hard!) But you’re right, for the most part people are content to be be befuddled I would ever do these things, and never try them out for themselves. But sometimes I wonder…how many people would be out of a job if we ALL lived this way? Could our planet actually go back to an agrarian based society, and give up our capitalist ways? I’m not sure.

    15. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since we got together. I think your book is going to be VERY helpful.

      I know for me – I need baby steps. So – and not to create more work for you – a brief education on healthy oils and where to get them. Just this information on its own to ponder and consumem. Then a separate primer on grains – again … what’s healthy, where to get them, how to process (i.e. grind) them, etc. Then move onto vegetables and composting and recycling and preserving, etc. But maybe figure out some way to have individual information pieces (whether it’s the chapters in your book or “weekly email tips” or something). Just so it’s not so overwhelming. For me – if I can make maybe one change every month (i.e. stop buying processed foods one month, learning how to work with grains the next, etc.) – this paradigm shift might be less overwhelming.

      You have SO much to share – I know you can do it. I think you were meant to be an educator on this topic and I can’t wait to see all the differences you make! THANK YOU for the difference you’ve already made in my life.

    16. Whit says many people are passive. I’ve been saying that for years. Just keep talking. You would probably be surprised the impact you are having. I used to be in a Master Composter group. We’d talk about the subject and sell composters. The deer-in-the-headlight looks we got, but we sold composters. Also, you can’t expect everyone to do it the way you are doing it. Canners are doing their thing. By the way, I now have local sources of meat, milk, and eggs and feeling pretty smart about myself. I’m doing for slightly different reasons/motivations than yours. Doesn’t mean I’m not doing it. Just keep at it.

    17. I think for all of us on this journey, there’s one thing that gets us sucked in to want to learn more. Once we start learning more and more, then we start to take more and more action until suddenly we’re where you are–impassioned! But I think everyone else is right; educating others has to be a small hook, not a whole vision, which can be inspiring in the moment, but overwhelming to put into practice. So for some people it’s when they have a baby and start thinking about what they want to feed he/she; for others it’s meat or the environment or pet food or money or the taste of better fresh food than I can get at the grocery store. I personally think that starting to grow a seedling of one favorite food is a great place to start–have you thought about selling seedlings? You realize how cheap, easy, and tasty and abundant growing food is. But we have to start with the small step that compels us. Good luck! I’m so glad that you’re taking this next step to educate others.

    18. I enjoyed your display. Was a pleasure to meet you. :)

    19. Actually, I’d argue that THE #1 sustainable thing you can do is have no children, but that goes over even worse than telling people what they ought to be eating… Exponential population growth is far more unsustainable than some of the things the local/sustainable community rails against (and I’m even a member of said community).

      I agree with what some others have said – eating seasonally isn’t really possible on a mass-scale for many (most?) regions of the country. And if eating local means heated greenhouses in the middle of winter, it’s been shown that doing so is even more unsustainable than trucking produce from areas of the country where they’ll grow in the winter sans greenhouse.

      I’m not trying to be a nay-sayer because, at my root, I’m in the same boat as you but the problem we’re trying to solve is fairly monumental. It’s a paradigm shift somewhat back to where we were two to four generations ago and it may well take an equal number of generations to turn it back. Barring revolution, change tends to be incremental (and even revolution is usually arrived at incrementally until the “wave” unleashes).

    20. I think you need to be more clear and more specific on WHY you don’t preserve food and what the benefits are. I’ve confused about that. The way it was just presented on the blog, it seems so spartan. So American Gothic -joyless gray days of toiling to grow all your own food (absolutely overwhelming!). Make it look vibrant, fun, accessible.

      I also would encourage you to have lots of beautiful pics – maybe a slideshow type presentation on a laptop – of WHAT you eat. Ditching the grocery store is hard to wrap your mind around, but seeing plates of abundant, delicious food (and maybe family prepping it together) would go a long way to making people want that lifestyle.

      Show some easy ways to store food – things people can touch, can relate to (like braided onions, for example. It stores them all winter – but also brings up images of warm grandmotherly country kitchens, of plenty, of home cooked meals with family all around.)
      Also samples are always a good way to go to draw traffic. Why not samples of that spelt bread, perhaps with whatever you make at home to spread it with? Why not offer recipe cards for EASY sustainable recipes anyone can do, or a beginner baby step for a complete novice (like sprouting or freezer jam or something) – a recipe card with your promo info on it, naturally.

    21. I respectfully disagree that not having children is sustainable. It’s the opposite.

      Who will care for the elderly, or help them with the work of growing food when they become infirm? If there are no children, no younger generation, than there’s not even any point to trying to be sustainable, which at its heart is about preserving a way of life and ecosystems for future generations.

    22. These repsonses are amazing! I’ve been reading them all weekend and thinking about them. I really appreciate all the time and thought you have put into helping me repackage my messaging. Some great ideas here.

      A few quick comments since tonight is my busiest worknight of the week:

      There is not anything wrong with canning except that it automatically destroys 35% of the nutrients right off the bat and takes up a lot of your time! Last summer I was canning all the time and missed having fun. This summer I am canning apricot preserves, peaches and tomato products along with some pickles but I am dehydrating peaches, freezing a few things (berries and peas, some beans) and fermenting a LOT of other things. Dilly or ginger Carrots, beets, beans, salsa, cucumbers, cabbage, cortido, chow chow, red peppers. Things I used to can.

      Most of my winter gardening information came from a book by Elliot Cole called Four Season Harvest. He has an organic farm in Vermont and gardens year round. I know I live in Seattle where it only freezes or snows in December and Jan vs Nov through April but I’m wondering if it’s colder in the midwest than in Vermont? It might be, I’m just not sure.

      That said you can freeze and can some things but for much of winter eat apples, cabbage, potatoes, squash, onions, garlic, mushrooms. Even if these things make up the bulk of your food but you still buy the occasional broccoli and cauliflower you will be making a huge difference. I’d love to put an end to hothouse tomatoes! But I understand tomatoes are the hardest, that is why I dry some and can some.

      What is hard about this is we are so used to having a varied diet. My diet is still varied, it just changes every 4 months but in that time frame it’s not quite as varied. In the winter we gorge on citrus fruits from California because they are in season – in the summer it’s tomatoes and berries.

      I know this is a big leap for people to make!

      And I do have to agree with FoodGardenKitchen that most children are not sustainable. There are some parents who strive very hard to not succomb to the endless parade of toys and soccer matches that require driving around but they are few and far between. I would love to say I am that kind of parent but I am not. My carbon footprint is huge because of my kids and my retriever. I drive a car (at least half the time to because of volunteering my time or because of the kids). We take vacations and drive down the coast. I do all kinds of things I’m not prepared to change.

      I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you all and all your responses! Hopefully I’ll finish working tonight in time to respond in a more meaningful fashion.

      xo, Annette

    23. I recently started reading your blog & am a newbie to *all this*. I aspire to be where you are…but, for various reasons, I estimate it will take me 2 – 3 years.

      I just wanted to pipe up and echo what others have been saying – that any one of the items on your posted list is a major goal in and of itself for the vast majority of the population. Most people just assume it is not realistic for them to do anything other than what they are doing…e.g. buying everything at the grocery store.

      Perhaps, as others have suggested, begin by taking one goal and breaking it into small steps for people. Have a short list (no more than 5) of recommended books/resources for people who are interested in learning more. For example, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” has inspired a lot of people to go farther on this path.

      I think the most you can do in a first-time, very brief meeting with people is to try and encourage people – to inspire them – not necessarily give them rules. You simply don’t have the time & it’s not the right format with a poster at a store (IMHO) to go into too many how-to’s or pronouncements – many people will simply end up overwhelmed/exhausted/shut down. You want them to WANT to take the next step (which is usually to become more informed) on their own.

      I think the pocketbook/low cost is a big incentive for a lot of people, especially right now. Removal of fear is another one – “feed your family without having to depend on an employer AND save hundreds of dollars a month AND reduce your carbon footprint, blah blah blah.”

      Just keep trying – you’ll figure it out eventually.

      And, BTW – keep up the posts! I’ve learned so much from your blog already…it REALLY makes a difference for those of us who are trying to walk the same path as you!



    24. Wanted to add that I was inspired by your grain grinding display. I gave it a try and thought “I could do this”. I picked up my first grains yesterday to make some flour for this week’s sandwhich bread. Wish me luck! ;)

    25. Annette-be encouraged! I value your contribution to the blogosphere and the Seattle community greatly (as a Seattleite who is new to the traditional, sustainable food movement) and definitely would have been at your booth if I could have made it to the event. I would echo the commenters that asked for more details, more of the why and how of each point on your list. I know that the first time I looked at the Nourishing Traditions cookbook a year ago I thought it was slightly ridiculous, but now that I have read up on why it is so much healthier, I am anxious to work through the recipes. People have to have a reason beyond just a “sustainable” label. How will it truly effect them and their family and their environment? Fermenting doesn’t make sense until you learn about the increase in vitamins and how it supports healthy digestion. The ‘why’ really is the biggest impact, I think.

    26. As they say in sales, telling people all about the great features of your product, fantastic though it may be, won’t generate much interest or many buyers. Folks need to be sold on “what’s in it for me?” If the benefit to them is great enough, they will figure out a way to get (in this case, do) it. Annette, you are doing wonderful things. Don’t be discouraged. Just remember to meet people where they are.

    27. I don’t get the “no preserving” thing either. We as a race have really flourished because we learned how to preserve food. Settlers would salt meat, Native Americans dried meat, etc. Heck, even the animal kingdom (think squirrels) knows to preserve food!

      Also, I think it’s healthier to eat preserved foods (canned, frozen, dried, etc) during the winter than it is to try to eek out some greens and whatever else you can hope lasts long enough through months of freezing weather!

    28. What you are doing is amazing. The speed with which you are doing it is also amazing and others will follow – at their own speed. My husband and I are taking turns pulling ahead in this one – first it was me for a long time, now I’m fatigued and he’s suddenly discovered the idea of sustainability.

      There are a few foods that I’ve always eaten seasonally – berries, asparagus, morels. Just writing their names has my mouth watering. When I want to inspire myself or others to eat with the seasons, I talk them through the first taste of pumpkin pie in fall or of strawberries in spring. Imagine feeling that way about tomatoes or grapes or cauliflower? Imagine how yummy it would taste if you waited the months until it’s time returned! You can have it if you eat with the seasons. Yeah, after a while the love affair with zucchini or kale can come to an end. Oh well, you can start sizing up the next object of desire – leeks or spinach. Meanwhile you can be creative with the abundance around you.

      That said, I do preserve lots of food, and will continue to as long as I have plum trees and berries all around. And this is the first year when I’m seriously trying not to buy anything out of season, or anything I couldn’t grow on my own. And it is work.

    29. Annette, it was great meeting you in person at Planet:Home. Please don’t be discouraged. I’m glad you were there, but it really wasn’t the best venue for you. Your “Top 5 Things” are way too complex to get much attention at a festival like that. I was disappointed you weren’t given a stage to speak from. It was just you and your books and your grinder, and people chatting with you randomly. In situations like that where I actually could have asked you any question, I don’t know where to begin. I could be asking you questions for days!

      My suggestion: I would *love* to hear you give a full evening’s presentation. People need to hear stories – I know I do. It would be great to hear your story in your own words. What brought you to this path? How did you feel about it at first; how do you feel about it now? By hearing your story, we (your audience) can imagine putting ourselves on the same path. You are making it real for us!

      Your presentation should include *lots* of good photos, of your garden, your equipment, doing the processes, the final results, etc. Again, the photos, along with the stories, will make it come alive. I would like to see what your “perpetual garden” looks like. How big is it? Do you have to water it all summer? Where the heck to you get a camellia sinensis? (again, a million questions).

    30. I agree with whoever said something about focusing on how you present your message. By taking out the words like “only” from Eat Only Seasonally and the “only” from other places while adding positively framed clarifiers, like “then you don’t have to preserve…” or “eating like our grandparents used to (remember when rasberries were that very special summer treat?)” will keep people who are already overwhelmed by the whole process from shutting down further. To many people all of “this” seems undoable or unrealistic and they also feel somewhat guilty about feeling that way. Making your verbage positive and welcoming and staying away from black and while rules or wording that may be perceived as judgemental and may seem hard to stick to will allow those that haven’t begun the process to try the baby steps that we all know are often like gateway drugs to the whole shebang. Allowing room for trying on these behaviors without feeling badly for just doing a bit at a time will allow more of the less hard core sustainability seekers to access your information.

      I have to admit that although I have been working on this for years and years, you have come so much further than I have in your couple of years simply because of your unbelieveable commitment and energy. Although I have been reading your blog since almost the beginning, I too fell into the pile of those who feel guilty and haven’t even read it much in the last few months simply because life happened in completely unexpected ways and my sustainability efforts suffered. It couldn’t be helped, but I still feel guilty and have avoided reading blogs that reinforced my guilt. The point is that, if it could happen to me, a lifelong sustainability striver, it will most certainly be happening to newbies and, worse yet, to those just thinking about it.

    31. Katiegirl and others – I’m not saying don’t preserve. I’m saying if you want to spend the least amount of effort and resources to dehydrate some things, can some things, freeze some things, ferment many things and try to eat in season.

      I know not everyone wants to eat cabbage and kale all winter even though those things do fine under snow with some minimal protection. But if you can do that, say 30% of the time you have made a huge difference.

      I absolutely believe in salting and fermenting and other traditional preservation strategies. The concept of water bath and pressure canning, though, is a relatively new phenomena. Once milk was routinely pasteurized in the early part of the last century much of the good bacterias that protected us were lost. Before that you would go out to the pickle barrel and grab a cucumber that had spent the winter floating in a salt and water brine, preserved by good bacteria. Fish was preserved in this same fermented manner, or salted and dried. Meats were preserved in liquid salty brine all winter too.

      What I love about these comments is realizing that what I was presenting to be what I consider the model, the ultimate goal that not even I am up to, might have been perceived as what everyone should be doing.

      I love the idea of presenting this in baby steps and have decided to try and overcome my technical difficulties and set up a weekly email. Something along the lines of “50 ways to leave your box store”. We’ll take off two weeks over the holidays. Still working out the kinks and hoping to not get sued by both Paul Simon and Safeway. I hope you’ll all join me!

      More details to come when I am a little more rested, less fuzzy, and have thought this through a little more.

    32. Leo, thanks for commenting. The afternoon session went much better than the morning one and there was a lot going on there. I do have a “why do I bother” page that explains much of that. As far as the perpetual garden it is scattered in some landscaped ornamental sections and all along the side yard where I am growing chicken forage and fruits and asparagus. I do water it but it’s part sun so doesn’t need much watering. The orchard is also helping shade it and I have a lot of thyme mulch that helps as well. Someday I’ll have a solution to the rainwater system since I don’t want to collect it for fear of the composite roofing material. Until then I am using a drip irrigation that is buried or under mulch where ever possible. The camelia sinensis is from Rockridge Orchards and they have many other must-have things as well: hardy ginger, sancho peppercorn, yuzu.

      Elizabeth I really appreciate hearing about your feelings of guilt. I really don’t want this blog to sound preachy in any way so that is good to hear.

      Anyone who reads this blog is miles ahead of where I was when I first started this journey, regardless of what level you are operating at. Your minds are opened and that is the hardest part. The rest will follow.

      You all are probably much smarter than me – understanding your limits and not biting off more than you can chew!

    33. I’m inspired as well! I think it would also be good to show people how to accomplish these sustainable practices in a time efficient manner. As much as people feel the pinch in their pockets, so too do they guard their precious free time. I think if you could demonstrate how to incorporate some of these things into daily life, people would feel less intimidated to try. For instance, I bake bread and roast veggies and then time my yogurt making to coincide with using the cooling oven as an incubator. Three tasks accomplished together…

    34. Oh my gosh. So many people comment! I tried to read them all so I don’t repeat something, but my eyes are tired!
      I was there helping plan and put on the Planet:Home festival. I like the idea of you speaking at the main stage, perhaps with a demonstration of some of the great things you do. I also liked the idea of a handout. It would be nice to see specifics like where and how you get your grains, what foods you eat in the winter, etc. I’m just glad that you were able to come this year. Next year, let’s work together to make sure your ideas are heard. Take care!

    35. Perfect post. I love reading all the wonderful ideas!!!

    36. So like Linda, I read most of the posts…so I apologize, if I’m repeating.

      My husband and I have been making the change to sustainable eating slowly for about 2 years now. We started out simple, which I think is key, when trying to get people to be excited, start the change in their life, or even just listen to what we have to say. The first thing I tell people is start easy…cut out high fructose corn syrup. A lot of people do not realize that it’s in so many things (especially if you shop at big box stores). We did this for a year (and sometimes we still fall for an occasional soda or candy with it in it), but it’s a baby step that’s tangible to many people.

      During this year, I started reading books about organic gardening, being a locavore, organic vs. local…really anything I could get my hands on about these subjects. Then we chose out of the many, many options what we wanted to do. We now obtain our fruits and veggies (some dairy too) from a CSA. We have a small container garden on our apartment balcony. We are still tweaking our diet (we try to eat only local, then organic). After re-watching “Food Inc”, I’m making the concious decision to be all grass fed meat by the end of the year, instead of just organic.

      I think a big deterrent is the list of things that “you have to do” to be a sustainable/local/organic eater. I think using the motto “slow and steady wins the race” is a good way to get people to listen. You can have more info for people, who want to be more “intense” with sustainable eating. But, you’re not making people, who cannot commit their entire life or do not have the time, feel excluded.

    37. Annette -

      I’m not adding anything new that your other readers haven’t already pointed out … that getting to Sustainable Eating is a continuum, that we take baby-steps, and that we don’t want to feel guilty about taking a step back (like buying bread instead of making it).

      Demonstrations speak louder than pictures and pictures speak louder than words …

      Having a grinder for wheat and the before, during and after examples would really help me visualize the process. Since I already bake my own sourdough bread (need any starter?), I seek out Washington Grown flour. The next step is obviously grinding my own. What about growing my own? You see, we just need to get to “Try”.

      Another approach is to suggest … “Hey, do you bake your own bread? Why not try making cheese?” Get people to add another skill to their repertoires. “Gee, you grow your own tomatoes, how about canning some? ”

      And of course, it’s the economy, stupid. Showing that spending $5.00 on a loaf of artisan bread that goes bad in 2 days is a waste of money when home-made sourdough lasts on the counter for a week (well, actually we eat it faster than that … but we went camping to yellowstone and I made two loaves of bread before we left and I still had unspoiled bread by the end of the 10-day trip without refrigeration.)

      Keep up the essays, and your spirits. And keep having garden tours … a demonstration or a visit can teach more in 10 minutes than reading 10 books.

    38. I am loving reading these – it’s helping me think how to present my weekly emails that will hopefully be starting next week. Of course it’s so simple now after reading all your comments! I think blog entries aren’t the best format for showing you how to make steps – I have much of this on this blog but you of course don’t read it chronologically because blogs are not like that.

      So as soon as I can get the technology figured out we will begin our 50 steps!
      xo to all!

    39. Annette, I completely agree with you. I think back to Laura Ingalls Wilder living in parts of Iowa and the most frigid parts of Minnesota. I don’t believe that they pressure canned beans or spent countless hours storing tomatoes in jars. It’s kind of funny, what some people think is a disadvantage in having snow others realize the snow itself serves as refrigeration. Especially those of us that live here, lol!

      I’ve come along many similar paths as you Annette and I have always stopped by Sustainable Eats to see what you were doing and how I could follow along with you. I completely agree that it’s our mentality in how we have been raised in food preservation in how perceive what we can and can’t do. When we start growing and raising our own food do we truly start to realize that our system has it wrong. I live in Iowa, central Des Moines, where last year it got down to -30! YIKES! Through that, many people had winter gardens and were still eating fresh greens, cabbages and carrots. Because of your wonderful efforts Annette, this year I have already started my Fall plantings and am focusing my attention on winter gardening and what to build over it to keep the weight of the snow off. I should have fresh greens, carrots and cabbages throughout the winter.

      Last winter I took fresh tomatoes off my grocery list. With greens from local providers I made salads using carrots, onions, beets, and parsnips. I came up with different dressings to go with that. You see, when you start to think seasonally, you realize that you can get buy the winter eating what’s in season. Nourishing stews and soups of potatoes and root vegetables. Many more meat and legume dishes to experiment with. By eating in season, fresh strawberries from my patch tasted like a dream in June when you haven’t had them all year.

      Most of what I jar is salsa for my winter dishes, peaches I put up for the kids and hubz, and jam. I freeze a gajillion tomatoes to use for sauces and stews some green beans but we mostly survive on root vegetables which keep quite well in the cold garage.

      Hey, If I can do this thing in Iowa, I’m sure others can do it in warmer places. Love to you Annette, XoXo!!!

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