Austerity Fast

November is more than half over. What do I have to show for it? I have been putting some time and focus into my Quiet Riot’s food month, but predictably not as much as I’d hoped. Like many of you, my time is very limited and I seem to put any spare change I have into this addictive blogging endeavor!

I have made the switch to farmer’s market cheese as well as the newly available milk in glass bottles (hooray!) And that good ole’ $16/lb coffee. But since food is my overarching life focus, there weren’t too many changes to make. I mean, there’s always more changes a person could make, but I was doing more or less what I am comfortable doing and can afford. I already buy almost entirely ethically raised meat and dairy, grow a large portion of our vegetables, keep chickens, cook seasonally and efficiently, and minimize waste in the kitchen with Type A fervor. I go the extra mile. Spend the extra (5) dollars.

Only one thing left to do.



Enter my week-long Austerity Fast, beginning this Saturday. The Fast will be a reigning in of all excess for me. We have such a warped standard these days, it’s hard to figure out what is and isn’t luxury. But since this is just a week long exercise, I want to draw a pretty hard line, this will be the corporate boycott (of one) I wrote about last month. No buying anything except locally produced groceries from the market. Furthermore, I’m not even going to use those Whole Foods groceries which are always well-stocked in my pantry. This means a week of eating entirely local food, which is a little intimidating and also a little exciting. **Note: Coffee is exempt from this and all other challenges. Otherwise I simply would never do it.** We are lucky to have local brown rice available, as well as squash and potatoes, so we won’t go starch-less, plus all meat and dairy, and a great selection of vegetables this time of year. Eggs of course from our home coop. This adds up to pretty plush for a supposedly “austere” diet.

Most notably cut from my week will be sugar, variety and convenience. I am a sugar fiend. I make most of my sweet-tooth-satisfying treats at home with top quality ingredients, nevertheless I know it isn’t right to eat rich, sweet foods once or twice every day. I hope to write a penetrating post about luxury as standard this weekend, in the midst of my sugar withdrawl.

Variety is taken for granted these days too, I’m sure we’ll be sick of rice by the end of the week. But perhaps most critically for this particular time frame, as My Man’s finals are bearing down on us, will be the loss of convenience. Nix the belovedly quick and easy whole wheat noodles from Whole Foods. Nix the uber-quick snacks of bread, sandwiches and granola– wheat, wheat and oats from afar.

And now, aren’t you wondering how I’ve roped my family into this? I think a lot of concerned mamas face this dilemma. You’ve determined the ethical thing to do, and you are willing to pony up the extra 40 minutes/day to make it happen, but your family’s not remotely on board.

Here’s my tactic, it may or may not be ‘right,’ but I think it’s relevant–

I haven’t roped my family into it, this Quiet Riot and the upcoming Fast are all me. I may accomplish less, true, but it will be without coercion of any kind. For one thing, coercion doesn’t work. Difficult things like self-limitation need to be chosen of one’s own free will. (And no, guilt from behind does not count as free will.)

But more importantly, who am I to say what anyone else should do? Everyone has their own unique thing to offer the world. My Man works on a different plane. We intersect, and that’s awesome. We have lots to offer each other. As Ani DiFranco said, “I know there is strength in the difference between us, and I know there is comfort where we overlap.” And who’s to say this little exercise is even useful anyway? It’s useful to me, and that’s why I’m doing it. But is it really useful to the world at large?

Fortunately, I am queen in the kitchen. Although I am not prepared to refuse my 4yo granola if she insists on it, I hope that by planning ahead and providing rice porridge with cream and honey for breakfast, the entire conflict can be avoided. The burden will lie solely on me, where it belongs, since this is my crazy idea. I hope that, again– with good planning, I can have local meals ready for My Man to take to school so that he doesn’t need to buy a Big Ag lunch out.

That is how women have influenced the world throughout history– covertly, from the kitchen. They’ll never know what hit ’em.