Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thinking beyond the usual year end giving

Yes, there are drives for non-perishable food donations at every food bank in the land at this time of year, and it is important that we give, and encourage giving. Money is good, too. Being mindful that the percentage of food insecure people on the home front is roughly the same as those hungry globally (1 in 7) is a good thing.

And there are the feel good charities that move toward sustainability, such as Heifer and its ilk. Even on Glee - Finn gave vegan, Jewish Rachel a sow!

But I'm thinking about giving to some groups that push the envelope. Non-profits that teach small scale sustainable agriculture, like Ecology Action based in wonderful Willits, but reaching folks in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East...

And to groups that watchdog global food justice, like the Oakland Institute doing particularly important work these days exposing land grabs in Africa.

I'm not going to repeat the cliche about giving a fish, but I will ask:

How many times can we multiply our charitable dollars to work toward food justice?

on the home front

Last week we completed the sprucing up of my kitchen. Well, almost. The hood that arrived was the wrong size, and I have a storage piece I bought at IKEA this week which needs to be assembled. Do that or put up the tree? What a choice.

The walls are whiter, the lights are brighter, the counter tops are no longer yet another faux wood grain, and the stove is white, clean and more energy efficient. (I did not replace the cabinets, not wanting to add to the landfills, but they were refinished and repaired earlier this year.)

The oven actually bakes things at the time and temp recipes say - quicker if I use the convection feature, which I have yet to experiment with. And I won't need to get a dehydrator - something I'd been thinking about, but wondered if I would use enough - because the manual that came with the stove includes full instructions and time tables for drying most everything. I went cookie mad the first couple of days, and have been carrying tins everywhere. I slowed down when I realized I didn't have enough occasions or friends to eat them all!

I'm usually not house proud at all. It takes company coming to motivate me to clean, and redecorating comes in very small spurts about every ten years or so or when I move. I've now lived here longer than anywhere - except the house my family moved to when I was two and a half - so it is time to do something. But I LOVE to be in the kitchen, and it is so much more pleasant now. I wonder if I love it too much... But then I think, good tools are important for living simply and frugally - and perhaps that's the embraceable rationale.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And I thought Costco Coffee Hours were bad!

This article in the NY Times

A friend and I were talking about potlucks just a few weeks ago - about the trend toward bringing high-end takeaway, rather than something simple and homemade. I don't see this much in my church circles, but I certainly do at other potlucks. My friend was commenting on the food brought to a women's hiking group lunch. Pricey takeaway salads and the like. Whatever happened to gorp? or mabye a homemade granola cookie? The only thing "slow food" about such meals is, one assumes, slowing down to stop at the grocery deli.

But what takes the cake - sorry - is this trend of bringing purchased baked goods to bake sales. I am thoroughly glad that I have never seen baggies of oreos at a charity bake sale. The reason some apparently give for the trend - that you know what's in purchased foods - seems spurious. What about that catchall "natural flavoring"? The fact that some children prefer commercial cookies - well, fie on their parents. If you are going to give the kids a treat, teach them to appreciate something good.