On the Subject of Eggs, Pornos, and Tech Not Replacing Teachers

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.37 AMMy son is walking around talking to eggs. He takes one from the carton and introduces it to me. “This is my son, Steve. I’m finally a dad.” I tell him to put the egg back.

“It’s my son.”

“It’s not your son…” We argue.

“Kids come from eggs.” I don’t want to discuss this now. I want to bake cookies. I tell him to choose between his son and the cookies. I need the egg. After a heart wrenching moment, he chooses cookies.

“Goodbye, dear son. I love you. I’ll miss you.” He caresses the egg, a tear coming to his little eye. He kisses the egg goodbye.

“It is not your son.” I crack the egg.

He waves a sad little wave as the yolk membrane crushes and the egg blends into the batter. “Take care of yourself in there….”

I feel like a real jerk, making the kid kill his son so we can eat cookies…Is this what every mother chicken and cow feels before humans eat dinner?

No. He will not draw me into his insanity. It’s an egg…I wipe his tear. We make cookies. We eat cookies. A person can really question their sanity raising a six-year old. I start to see, talk to, and put plates out for imaginary friends

He takes another “son” while I’m not looking.

“Put that back before it…”

Splat.

Too late. Eggs are impossible to get off the floor. I’m unhappy. Declan’s devastated. I clean the floor and plan a funeral at the same time–good thing I baked cookies for it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.12.58 AMOne day, my boiled eggs went missing. “Look, Mom, twins!” I was hungry, but at least boiled eggs don’t splat all over the ground. Turns out, they crumble. “This is Steve’s heart.”

Back to cleaning floors…

I still need to eat so I attempt a frittata . As soon as the carton comes out, there’s Declan, reaching in…

“I’m having another child. I’m a good Dad.” If that were true, Steve wouldn’t be on his fourth life.

“No more children!” I say. “Dinner!” His little lip quivers. He wants to be a dad.

“But eggs are where children come from.” This question’s not new. I’ve answered it–we watched medical videos on YouTube. YouTube is where every parent turns when they don’t want to answer. If I don’t answer, he’ll just ask Siri or Google. He thinks they’re real people. I think they’re jokesters–they sometimes show inappropriate things.

When Declan has something on his mind, he’s all in. He’s focused. He gets the answer. If he’s not interested, there’s nothing I can do to keep him on task. It’s no different in my classroom. We’re so busy standardizing curricula, we don’t see the tree through the forest. Each individual tree is a beautiful thing to behold.

People ask me if technology will replace teachers. No, it won’t. Technology won’t replace teachers because not all teachers have technology that works. Mostly, it’s broken, blocked, and banned. But when it isn’t, kids still need a guide–someone to help process the information. Someone to who will clap, say “great job,” guide them to the next level, and tell them the amazing things they can be.

There are many paths to the top of the mountain. Tech allows kids to meander around looking at the flowers and trees on the way. They’re engaged. They learn. And sometimes parents get a moment of rest.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.22 AMDeclan still wants eggs. I try something different. Plastic Easter eggs.

“Here’s your egg.” I pick a shiny blue one.

“Thanks, Mom!” He hugs the egg, “I missed you, Steve.” He turns to me. “I need four more. We’re going to school.” I get them. Soon, the egg-kids are lined up efficiently in school. Steve gets broken. I explain we can’t keep replacing Steve. Good moms and dads take care of their kids. Declan cries. I get him a new Steve.

Steve’s the troublemaker at school. He stays in for recess.  He’s a lot like his “dad.”

“Hey, Mom,” Declan says. “Kids come from eggs. Let’s watch those videos again!” We watch medical videos that speed up nine months of pregnancy. We skip the ones that show how the baby got in there and how it gets out. No pornos here! Nothing to see!

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.13.17 AM“Hey Mom,” he says. “Can we watch a video about how the baby gets in? And how it gets out?” Kids don’t miss a thing.

“No. And don’t ask Siri or Google.” I pick another plastic egg out of my pocket and tell him Steve’s friend is here to play.

“Come on, Steve, you can get out of time out. Hondo’s here to play…”

Steve and Hondo play, I eat my frittata sans guilt, and I hide Siri…so she can’t make trouble later on.

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Finding the Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

2043_AnniesNaturals_P-300x300I was at a large store. I don’t often go if I can avoid it. So many boxes, and bags, all that extra wasted packaging. I prefer to go to the farm and get a carrot. But there are some things the farm doesn’t have, like King Arthur Bread Flour and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Besides, the farm is blanketed in snow. There are no carrots in the winter, only eggs and meat. And farms don’t grow vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Even living the simple life, there are things I can’t make. I’ll never completely live the dream of ridding myself of bottles, boxes, and bags. I’m resigned to the fact that being a food extremist is just too–extreme. I’ll bring my iced tea in mason jars and get locally roasted coffee. I’ll rid myself of processed sugar and look with disdain at grocery carts filled with Captain Crunch, for a moment allowing my feeling of superiority decrease my overall daily dose of karma. Who’s better, really? I’m at the big store with everyone else hunting down a product no one can identify or spell. I have to ask a helpful employee.

“I know you probably don’t use this every day. You can make up an answer if you don’t know…” I say to the friendly employee sweeping up a mess in aisle 5,430. I phrase the question to give him an out should he not know. “Would you happen to know where I can find vegan Worcestershire sauce?”

He blinks two times. I continue, “Do you know where either the regular condiment aisle is or where the vegetarian stuff might be?” He blinks at me. He furrows his brow. Just when I think he might give me directions to the store where people like me usually go for things no one but second-generation hippies and world-saving sustainability nuts can identify, he speaks.

“Oh, I never make up answers. I always tell the truth. God will bless you that way. The truth will set you free. It’s done so for me,” he says. He pauses. Good. If anyone can guide me to the vegan Worcestershire sauce, it’s the Almighty. You might not think vegan Worcestershire sauce is worth the hunt, but it’s very helpful in soups, dressings, and stews.

“Go down this aisle. Look through these products here.” He waves his hand back and forth over the aisle. I look. “If it’s not there, check on the other side. Then follow the helpful green arrows to the next aisle. Check there…” Great. Vegan Worcestershire sauce is close by. Right around the corner. I start to thank him and go.

But he’s not done. “If it’s not there, look up. You’ll see another green arrow that’ll take you to the next aisle over. Follow that one and look on both sides until you find it. If you don’t, check the green arrow at the end of that row and then…”

Is he busting my prepackaged canned beans? He’s sending me row by row through the megastore. This happened to me once in Boston. I was running late for my sister’s concert.

“Yeah, it’s close by,” said the Bostonian. “Go to the end of the block. Take a left. Then, go to the end of that block and hang anotha left. Go down to the end-a that street. Take a left. When you get to the stop sign, take a left. You’ll be the-a.”

We did. Four lefts. A perfect block. Right back where we started. I wasn’t falling for that trick again.

I smiled and thanked him. He God blessed me, looking deep into my soul through my eyes. As quickly as if I’d never seen him, his gaze broke away. He continued sweeping aisle 5430. And just like that, the connection was broken.

I never did find the vegan Worcestershire sauce. The soups, dressings, and stews will have to do without. But I didn’t get sent down the wrong road this time–a lesson in and of itself. There are lots of things we think we need in life. Like vegan Worcestershire sauce. They’re superfluous. Clutter.

The important thing is staying on the right road, even in the face of distraction.

I succeeded. For once.

Frugal Is a Lie

Yes, it is an awful lot of work to can tomatoes.

Yes, it is an awful lot of work to can tomatoes.

I’m canning. Canning everything in sight, actually. Somehow, in the process of doing all this work, I live under the illusion that I’m saving money. It’s a lie.

It’s a lie I refuse to confront as I swim up to my chin in tomatoes, wash, and get ready to switch modes to apples. Somehow, returning to the arts of my grandparents seems the right thing to do–modern-day victory gardens, quasi-homesteading, shopping at the farm, foraging, DIY sewing projects, making cheese from scratch…living a simpler life.

But is it cheaper? Am I really the baroness of frugal that I pretend to be?

“Did you ever calculate how much you got from your garden and how much it cost?” asked my husband earlier in the season.

“No,” I said. I left it at that. The real answer is “No, because I’d have to confront the truth, which is ridiculously stupid.” I read “The $64 Tomato” just like every other wanna be urban homesteader. Then, I was ready to move to the country.

Frugal was easier in some respects when we lived in the city. There were coupons. The stores were four feet away in any direction. I got a ton of stuff free–I don’t think I paid for toothpaste for four years, and I just used the last bar of soap from my double-coupon-match-the-sales-free-soap-victory-extravaganza a very long time ago.

What? You want me to calculate the value of my time and add it into the equation, then tell you how much I saved?

Back then, it wasn’t much, because it was the height of the Recession. The world was crashing. I had time, but cash was at a premium. Matching the coupons, running around to the sales, keeping track of all the cluttery nonsense… it was effort, but it paid off in the end. It was a part-time job, to be sure. I got paid in free toothpaste and ten-cent shampoo. Money would’ve been more convenient.

I ended up with bags of free stuff. I brought the extras to the shelters. I enjoyed getting resources where they need to be. But I’m done with that clutter. Living out in the sticks, I’m not near a bunch of drug stores that let me run around matching sales. Cows don’t take coupons. I do it differently now. Use less, waste less, get better stuff.

My coupon life has come to an end. I think I’m I still frugal. I’ve worn that like a badge of honor. I hope I don’t have to give it up…to admit I’m more bohemian boutiquey than frugal after all. Maybe even a frugal poser. This is getting worse by the minute.

Let’s think. First, I buy the mason jars. I give stuff away. Then, I buy more jars. To make my jams and apple butter this year, I used fair-trade organic vegan sugar, local B-Grade maple, and local honey. Not frugal. The opposite of frugal. What I lack in frugal, I make up for in taste, I rationalize. But can I still qualify for frugal status? It means a lot to me. I’ll run the math.

Today, I’m canning tomatoes. I got 60 pounds for $25. If I pay myself $10/hour for this arduous kitchen task, that’s $80–a pittance for someone of my talent. I could be making at least $12.50 at the fast-food joint in town, and I wouldn’t even have to can the tomatoes–I’d just open last year’s vaccuum-sealed packs.

Back to the math. Running the stove for about 4 hours–a pound of propane is a bit over $6. That’s $24. The mason jars are around $7/case. The total cost of today’s project–approximately eight hours of my life (small pots mean two batches)–for a grand total of $136. I made 12 pints of sauce. That’s roughly $11.33/pint if I don’t factor in the actual cost of my time or the opportunity cost of my having done something else.

Frugal is not frugal. It’s a lie. But it is quirky, and I’m a pretty darned good cook. I’ll cut costs somewhere else.

Please return my mason jars.

On to the apples…

apples

The Curse: How to Destroy Appliances Like A Pro

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 9.07.51 PMI’m going shopping for a new gas dryer. I don’t really want one. I want to hang my unmentionables over the garden fence to dry–give the neighborhood something to talk about. It’s not like I live in an area where people can see where I’d hang underwear anyway. No one will post pictures of my laundry on Instagram. If they do, they seriously need a life.

“Nothing to see, folks, move on.”

When major appliances break, my mind makes a twisted route to Plan B as if I lived in a third world nation. “I don’t really need a new dryer anyway.” I don’t want to buy one. Having a drier makes me feel guilty. I should be hanging my clothes out to dry. I could be saving the kilowatt for a part of the world that needs it.  I justify my use of the drier by saying, “Well, at least I’m not ruining the universe with drier sheets. They kill trees and produce fumes.”  I can justify my bad ecobehavior by putting down those who use dryer sheets. It works.

I do like fluffy towels that can only be achieved in the drier. They don’t have fluffy drier towels in parts of the world that need my kilowatt. That thought makes me feel guiltier, as does the fact I often use two towels. Instead of taking my clothes out of the drier right away, I often throw my wrinkly work clothes in the drier a second time for five minutes to dewrinkle when I could have ironed. Lazy, first world behavior! I am an ecocriminal, like when I forget to put my reusable bags in the back of my car before shopping.

I have lost three appliances this year, each one taking up several cubic feet in the landfill. The demise of every appliance followed a luxury purchase on my behalf. The dishwasher crapped out after I pushed the button on my first yoga retreat. The washer died two weeks ago, after my husband convinced me we needed a specific Japanese-style charcoal grill because we needed to Japanese-style charcoal grill everything, every day, for every meal. Incidentally, if your spouse convinces you that you need to charcoal grill your baking because it’s summer, leave your chocolate chip cookies out of your Japanese-style chic charcoal grill. Something about the wood-fired taste of–chocolate–that makes me want to barf. You can’t unexperience something like that once it’s hit your taste buds.

But anyway, that’s why the washing machine died. Because I bought something.

“Ha,” said the pop-up on my online banking, “You could have bought a washer!” Who needs a washer anyway? Hell, I lived in places laundromats didn’t even exist. I’ll hand wash those clothes! My family didn’t agree, so we bought a nice old tank of a washer that can wash every piece of clothes in the house simultaneously, using twice the water. I’m feeling farther away from green by the minute. If this keeps up, I fear I’ll lose my green card.

Three days ago, the drier broke–died of a broken heart because his partner of 30 years, the 70’s washer, passed. Or perhaps it was that I spent money on the next great yoga retreat my friend Marianne suggested we attend. Part of me wants to think appliances are like a parakeets that sing their swan song soon after their partner croaks. Romantic. They must go to Valhalla together. But I really think it’s the curse.

I’m superstitious. I believe this stuff. After I buy this drier, there will be no further purchases here, because I do not want to tempt fate. I’m afraid the next appliance I’d kill is my freezer. I need that for harvest season. After all, you only get to pick blueberries once a year. I’m going to need that freezer.

 

[images: denmarkandsonsappliances.com]

Making Pancakes and Organizing My Brain

This just happened. I didn't do it. It was good pancake karma, like when pictures of the Lord appear in laundry stains or dirt patterns.

This just happened. I didn’t do it. It was good pancake karma, like when pictures of the Lord appear in laundry stains or dirt patterns.

Silently, I pull out the glass bowl. I get the metal one-cup measure without clinking it on the counter. I do not rustle the measuring spoons.  I stare into the other room. I have not been detected.

One false move and it will all be over.

I add the flour, crack a couple of eggs, coughing over the noise of the tap, tap, tap on the granite. I pour in vanilla, add milk, and cover up each little noise that might indicate I am making pancakes.

I am nearly home free. I don’t to pause to find the cookbook. I can do this from memory. I reach for the butter… #$%$!  There is no butter upstairs. I must go down below and fetch some, causing a delay that might never be recovered.

I bring up the butter from the freezer. I cut it, melt it in the microwave…the final ingredient.  Preparing to stir I hear…

“What are you making?” He teleports in front of me. Declan, aka–the boy who wanted to make pancakes.

I am caught. It was all for naught.

The good mom would have been proactive, “Come help me make pancakes.” It’s not that I don’t want to cook with him. He’s my mini chef.  It’s that I want to eat something today, without lumps, and I don’t want to invest the additional time in scraping batter off the walls or listen to anyone’s complaints. I wanted to cook quickly and neatly for once. This place is enough of a mess already, and it’s pretty much my fault.

If you doubt me, consult my Tupperware cabinet.

This is an authentic shot. I opened the door, and this is what fell out.

This is an authentic shot. I opened the door, and this is what fell out.

A person’s Tupperware cabinet is a reflection of their state of mind. Mine’s not pretty. I empty the dishwasher, and toss stuff back. This is similar to my process for anything–thinking, writing, creating… except those I refine with many edits, rereads, and details. Tupperware–not so much. Open the door, wait for the avalanche. Simple. When I’m in need, I  crack the door, just the slightest bit, and use the first matched set that tumbles out. Which takes a while, because science tells us that Tupperware pieces migrate South during picnic season. I have to dig deep to find a matching set that stayed for the summer.

This summer I hope to reintroduce myself to my organization skills.  I wrote on the Grockit blog that I would learn one new thing, and show it off on Learnist. A 30 Day Challenge. I’m wondering if that new thing could be organizing. I’ve attempted organizing before, so I’m not sure if it counts as “new” but I’m so awful that I suppose it might grandfather itself in. There are tons of things I could learn, I suppose, like Icelandic or astrophysics, but I want my project to be useful. I think of all the things I keep meaning to learn or do, and I see a theme–procrastination. Anti-procrastination could be my challenge, too, but I don’t think that’s a learning issue. That’s a “do it now!” fire.

For example, for a month I’ve been meaning to clean my glasses. I wear them every day, and I noticed the need in passing certainly by the beginning of Spring.  You’d think I could pick up some Windex and a tissue. Today, I got up, all fired up, and said, “Just do it.”  I found the Windex, polished away, and saved myself $5K in eye surgery. I never knew how many colors there were in the rainbow.

There are a ton of things I haven’t done that need to get done. The cellar never got cleaned when we moved in. Now, since I can see, I can organize if I’m not to distracted. I can even detail my car, which still has farm straw from mulching season.

I’ll tackle organizing and procrastination both with this challenge. The board will force me to tackle one thing a day and do something about it. It’s going to be a long board. I might break it down by the week. I wonder if there are 30 things to organize around here…check back in the comments really soon. I’m guessing my husband will include a list. Perhaps you have some helpful suggestions you can add, here, as well. Laughter does not count as a helpful suggestion. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Garden Lessons: Be Like Mint. Indestructible.

garden mess I grew up in the 80’s when the entire world watched nuclear disaster movies and made lists of the things that would survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Most people said cockroaches would survive. I know something even more indestructible.

Mint.

Mint can survive anything. You can dig it up. It returns. Light it on fire with a blowtorch. It’s back. Prune it, it grows through the window and says “Whazzzuppp!” by the next morning.

I hate pruning plants. I always feel bad that I’m killing potential flowers or lessening the food supply. Like somehow that bud will lose its chance to survive because I shaped and cut. Maybe that’s true, but mint makes me think differently.

afterFirst, it makes me think of resilience. Survival. Marching forward and making the best of the worst of circumstances. Mint cannot be defeated–it refuses to surrender. It thrives anywhere with any plant. It grows in cracks of sidewalks and peeks up yards away from where it was originally planted. It’s a horticultural Criss Angel.

But after a while, it always chokes things out. Last week, I was clipping it to add to salads and ice tea. This week, it’s crowding out the entire two acres. As someone who wants nothing more than to be able to go out to the yard and pick my entire dinner for the whole season, I sit in glee and think of all the tabouleh salad, iced tea, mint ice cream, and pestos I can make, but truth is, there’s only so much of a good thing that is useful. And so it’s time to pull some out.

Sometimes it’s good to prune. To take out excess. To shape the garden. Even if it means you have to toss some stuff aside.

No different from life, I think. Keeping the relationships that improve us, letting the ones go that served us in another time, and simplifying, cutting out the things that can easily claim our best time and energy.  Learning that less really is more, and that productivity increases when we can see around all the flowers, when our garden takes shape–it becomes more resilient.  When we keep what matters and toss the rest, the rest thrives.

Japanese philosophy says this well.

Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s 1716 work, says “Among one’s affairs there should not be more than two or three matters of what one could call great concern.” Written three years before his death, Hagakure serves as a guide to samurai both in battle and in life. By the time this was written, Yamamoto Tsunetomo was well off the battlefield and into the monastery. Like so many great warriors, he transferred the lessons of the battlefield to the lessons of life. Tactics, science, and philosophy are one in the same, for all intents and purposes. They work universally–anywhere you take the time to notice and apply them.

Japanese philosophy from three hundred years ago is no different from psychology today.  I find it amazing that the lessons Yamamoto Tsunetomo shared several hundred years ago can be found in my plants, and subsequently applie to my life, but if I stop, get rid of all but those important two or three things, and “prune some mint,” it all begins to take shape, leaving the rest of the day to be amazed at the simplicity and drink some mint tea.

 

[image: http://www.jiandaouruguay.org/inicio/index.php/Contacto/Contacto-con-Escuela-de-Disciplinas-Orientales-JianDao.html]

 

 

The Horrors of the American Grocery Cart: Really Dumb Things You, Too, Can Buy

I was doing the grocery shopping–because that’s what good moms do, and I took time out of my life to really pay attention to people’s carts.  I’ll admit it…I’m frugal. I might even do a mini-series on frugal, because it’s a lifestyle few understand and many mock. “You bake your own bread?” they’ll say incredulously. “You make cheese?” Yes to both. And about the follow-up comment, “If I had YOUR time!?”

This always sounds more like an indictment than an exclamation. I don’t have a lot of time. Being frugal is easy. It’s discipline. It saves money. And my food tastes better than packaged food–because bread isn’t designed to have chemicals in it. And it doesn’t grow in an aisle at the store.

This topic is near and dear to my heart, and deserves more time in print. For me, what started with “green,” progressed to “decluttering,” which has a natural evolution to “holy crap the economy stinks,” to “conserve,” to “frugal” to “obsessively frugal.”  There have been some speed bumps along the way–I’ll write about those another day.

Simplifying and learning “frugal” has been a catharsis. I’ll commit to breaking down my journey towards simplicity into a few posts, with one or two even having a touch of depth and serious reflection. The entire nation has suffered over the past half-dozen years. For many of us, it wasn’t anything we did directly–the housing market collapse, jobs and industries moving overseas, industries relating to those industries being impacted and fear that it could happen to any one of us.  It’s been a game of dominoes America never wants to play again, with deep psychological effects.

But for me, though challenging, it had an amazing outcome–simplicity.  The fear of losing my house and business was sobering.  I’ve lived in “situations without money,” before. I don’t like to say “poor,” because I feel that’s more of a mindset. But for anyone who has experienced the loss of a job, business, financial insecurity–it changes you permanently in ways unseen to the eye. For me, it took my interest in sustainability, cooking, green, self-sufficiency, food sourcing, and recycling, and elevated them to an obsession.

I’ll admit it–such high levels of social awareness sparked by fear often become blanketed with a touch of judgementalism. I don’t shop at the regular grocery store often–I am usually at small bodegas where I’m buying ingredients in foreign languages.  It’s like a culinary trip around the world for the amazingly cheap–I can go to Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Mexico, Korea, Japan, on a quarter tank of gas–how awesome for global warming! Somewhere, I know there is a polar bear who thanks me.

But part of being so left-wing on this issue is that when I do go to the store, I notice the really dumb things they stock.  Yesterday, I took a walk around and photographed just a few items. I am amazed they even exist, let alone rest in people’s carts. I’m stuck half-way between being ashamed at humanity for permitting these things and the desire to high-five every entrepreneur who convinced people to buy them. I might be a little jealous of their success.

LunchablesLunchables.  You’re telling me people are really too lazy to cut three slices of pepperoni and put them in reusable Tupperware next to a slice of cheese and two Ritz crackers?  That they have to waste the packaging for a “lunch” that normally costs $3 and wouldn’t fill a toddler?  If you pack this every day for work or school, that would be $60/month for lunch. This is the epitome of shameful. Declan asked me for one, once and I told him it was the Devil’s pepperoni.

Pre-sliced things.  Oh, they are everywhere. There was a whole aisle of them in Whole sliced applesFoods, even, which makes me sad, because in all other respects people who shop there are generally socially conscious–seeing people with crocs loading bulk food into satchels they sewed themselves is the norm at Whole Foods, and makes me smile. Seeing people look both ways for the enviro-police before snatching pre-sliced packaged apples makes me wish for a loud alarm.  “You there. With the Grateful Dead T-shirt. Put DOWN those pre-sliced apples!”

For three dollars you can have someone pre-slice your fruit, and wrap it in two layers of packaging with a hefty dose of sulfur dioxide as a preservative. For $2.99, they will pre-slice four beets and place a smiley cartoon on top.  Because seeing a smiley face always makes me want to pack beets. And the cost of six carrot sticks with a smidgen of dip–$2.50.  I can buy the same carrot for a penny or two and chop it myself. Heck, I’ll do it for you for a buck.

Someone even created a small plastic square holding the seeds of a pomegranate, because nature’s packaging was just not sufficient. I wonder whose job it was to take the seeds out and package them?

Baby brie.  For a substantial added expense, you can have mini-cheese rounds so small a mouse would call them leftovers, wrapped in a hefty dose of wax which defeats the purpose of eating them at all. Is it a candle? Is it cheese? Who knows. Best to just save the seven bucks and skip lunch.

Cubed cheese.  Oh, the horrors of cubed cheese and cheese sticks!  Again, this goes into the “buy a big block of cheese and use the French knife God gave you” category. But for people who haven’t developed their knife skills, they can make sure to waste rolls of plastic wrapping sticks of cheese that will only piss them off later, because no one can open those things, and they are way too salty anyway.

“100 Calorie” snacks. If you’re that worried about 100 calories 1. Don’t have a snack, or 2. Count the number of crackers yourself. Do you really need one of the Kiebler elves to do your first-grade math and put it in eighty layers of plastic?

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 5.53.06 AMDiet water. This is something I found on Facebook.  You read that correctly. Diet water. This is genius. This marketing team deserves a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Someone made people buy that “diet water.”  They sold ice to an Eskimo.  I want to be that person one day.  That person who sells you cut up pieces of cheese for fifty bucks, a pre-sliced apple with plastic and chemicals, or a plastic tray with three pieces of pepperoni and two Ritz crackers have nothing on Diet Water Guy.

I’m not trying to go all Greenpeace and PETA on you.  I’m just wondering about the state of affairs in the United States where we have become so disconnected from the foods that we eat to be convinced that these things are okay.  It’s affecting our health, our finances, and our national psyche.

I’ve been working toward getting rid of jars and packages for a few years now. I’ve reconnected myself with lost skills–canning, freezing, drying, production gardening–I felt pretty good about learning these things. However, these were basic survival skills for our grandparents and their parents, not artisan crafts and hobbies. That all changed over the last generation or two–Generation TV Dinner. I don’t deserve a medal. I’m just getting back to doing right by my produce and grains.

You know who also doesn’t deserve a medal? The dude eating pre-sliced apples.