Last night I went to a gallery opening for my friend Leah at Riverfront Studio in Schuylerville. It was a great evening of chatting to new people about a project my family and I are about to embark upon in the coming months. It was mouth watering to speak to Leah’s friend Mark about the smells, textures and tastes of food I’d become familiar with whilst living in London; things like double cream, Cadbury’s milk trays (chocolate), clotted cream, marmite and rashers (the most amazing bacon ever created), all things you can’t find here.
I also started to explain how I live on only $20 a week for groceries. I’ve spoken about it before, so I’ll elaborate only a little. I try to keep my grocery budget to $20 per week including non-edible basics like toilet paper or brillo pads or toothpaste. Most weeks I can hit close to the $20 mark, some weeks I can’t; for example, yesterday I walked out the of the store with 10 items and twenty-seven fewer dollars in my pocket. If I hadn’t purchased the peanut butter (which I could have left till next week) or splurged on fantastically decorated Easter eggs for my niece and nephew, I probably would have been right at, if not pretty darn close, to the goal.
People ask, astounded, what do I eat? The answer is simply. I eat lots of soups. The main components of nearly every meal are carrots and celery. I make my own granola bars and eat them for lunch everyday and, surprisingly, I’m not sick of them yet. I put into my body food that is barely processed and basic. I’m not a vegetarian but because meat can be expensive it becomes a once a week thing if at all. I make my own broth rather than purchasing the boxed or canned variety. And through this small effort I am reaping huge rewards.
We don’t think in America. We are so disconnected from the source of everything that it is almost as though we are now bred to consume and not create in so many ways. I am forced to think about every purchase and action I take these days whether I realize it or not. My perspective of the everyday actions and lives of those moving about me has shifted and I wonder what a little change in lifestyle would mean to them and the way they view the world as well.
This morning I sat down and watched No Impact Man, a documentary about an extreme experiment one NYC family took. It was interesting to see what I already do and what I would so not be willing to take on (like no toilet paper). The end result though is that this family’s view of the world around them changed in a way similar to mine. I would highly recommend watching the film. It’s available to watch instantly on Netflix if you are so inclined. Think about what you would be willing to take on, what small steps you can introduce into your life in order to reduce your impact and gain a different vision.
There is a movement, small and beginning to bud, that can empower an individual. I’ve stumbled into it without even realizing that I was already a part of it. This movement is to simplify. I don’t mean getting baskets to organize crap or time saving tips so that you can make dinner in ten minutes rather than thirty or forty. What I mean is to simplify what we purchase, the energy we consume, the money we spend, the impact we make on the world around us both physically and philosophically thereby increasing our connection to the world around us. Our family, our friends, our food and the amazing individuals who provide the things we depend on everyday like love and laughter and milk and butter.