Sunday, January 27, 2013


Went to the Co-op in town yesterday with a wooden box instead of a grocery bag. I was going for things like eggs (my birds are on winter break), milk, cheese, oats, and other things that do better in a sturdy container. Here is my loot from the little store. Battenkill Creamery milk in glass bottles, cuts of good cheese wrapped to order, Murray Hollow bread (fired in a huge outdoor oven, the BEST I ever had), some peanut butter, oats, and whatnot. It's a nice haul. And a different looking trip to the grocer than just a few years ago when everything came in plastic packaging and could be put into a microwave. Not anymore, no sir. This is a home where food is cooked. The microwave is now in my tack room being used as a western saddle stand and doesn't come out unless I am using it to heat up curds for mozzarella stretching.

Things change if you let them change. Sometimes they change on their own accord. I didn't plan on changing my grocery orders this much, but it happens one change at a time. Bar codes are showing up less and less around here. It's starting to seem odd, when I do see them. I was at a friend's house the other day and she could use her phone to scan her cereal box for a coupon. I get it, but it still made me squirm a little. I wonder if as I get older, technology in the name of labor saving or convenience will turn me spiteful? It already is starting to. I feel that labor and time are mine to choose to spend. I do not want the opportunity stolen from me, as it takes away any change of feeling gratitude for the work. I care a lot more for satisfaction and gratitude than coffee heated up in 30 seconds. I am glad Battenkill milk bottles do not have scan codes on them. I hope they never do.


Blogger Karen Talamantez said...

Greg and I were just talking about how fundamentally our lives have changed over the last two years. 24 months out of 50+ years and neither of us miss our old ways.

January 27, 2013 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

I hear you, sister. About five years ago, while loading up my recycle bins and garbage for the dump, I realized a lot of it was packaging and I was determined to get rid of it by shopping differently. I now shop at the types of places that allow me to bring my own containers or wrap things in paper. I store things in glass canning jars or tins. Even my tea is now all bought loose and steeped using a metal tea strainer. I only go to supermarkets for what I think of as "toilet paper shopping". I like using market baskets for shopping at my local
co-op, bakery, and butcher- and for anything more extravagant I bring a few canvas bags. I do pick up a couple of plastic bags for general garbage, but since I started shopping this way I only fill up one of those about every two weeks, so we rarely need to do a dump run more than once a month, and that is still mostly for things that can be recycled.

In Germany, companies are taxed based on how much garbage they are estimated to produce. Toothpaste only comes in a tube, there's no additional cardboard box because of this tax. No little pieces of paper between every slice of processed cheese. I wish we would do something like that here, but until then I will make choices that avoid layers of cardboard, plastic, and bags that weigh more, and probably have more nutrition than, the product itself.

January 27, 2013 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Frenchie said...

Love your grocery box!

January 27, 2013 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Frenchie said...

Love your grocery box!

January 27, 2013 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Reminds me of one of Joel Salatin's greetings, " Greetings from the non-bar code people!"

January 27, 2013 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed the same kind of shift in my grocery habits. There are still a few conventional things that we pick up (usually in winter), but much of the focus is ingredients and staples rather than things that are premade. I try to make it to the bulk store and the year-sound market when I can, but I wish we had a co-op in walking distance.

In the summer, I get up early on Friday mornings, hitch my trailer to my bike, and ride to the seasonal local farmer's market. I come home every week with cheese, eggs (in recycled cartons), fresh bread and bagels, and all of the produce I can fit into the trailer. There are few things that make me happier than that, and I miss it quite a bit in the off season.

January 27, 2013 at 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was just talking to my daughter today about hard timesa we had when she was a kid and the solution then was chicken gut stew with hearts and livers at .29c a pound (not Kraft dinner) - she tells me the ethnic market for this has been exploited and chicken guts now is a delicacy at $5 a pound. I too, have sought out the bulk size of everything and the less packaged items too - stocking up really saves you money and gives you the luxury of only shopping what's on sale.

January 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

About the best thing my little town supports is a Food Co-op. Which in turn supports local farmers and artisan food producers plus classes in healthy choices. They offer a choice of a bean or 5 cents for each bag or box you use to transport your purchases. The beans are placed in jars, your choice, which will convert to 5 cents given to various causes in the community. One day I may relocate to northern VA where, to date, I have not found anything like this co-op. If anyone knows of such a place in Loudoun county, VA, I would love to hear of it.

January 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

I love the lifestyle that supports homemade/homegrown/bartered. Reading The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency used by Mormon Pioneers by Caleb Warnock and Making It:Radical Home EC for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. Neat to re-discover that we don't NEED to buy oodles of products just the basics and create what we need. Love the winter growing lettuce in Warnock's book as well as handscrubber recipe in other book.

January 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

small batch of groceries, but a case where quality matters. you have more self discipline then me. I would get a dozen or so of their chocolate milk! oh gosh it's beyond good.

January 27, 2013 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

I love your grocery "bag". It looks the way it's supposed to look. I am so far from that it's not even funny. Bright yellow plastic with garish red writing full of food in boxes. I try to stay away from most prepackaged stuff...but with teenage boys I find it a bit more challenging.

I hear you about the bar codes...they are scary. And have you noticed that coupons are usually for food that isn't really food? Scary, too.

January 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I can totally empathize with your feelings. When I went home to visit over the holidays it really made me realize how different my life has become. My parents eat splenda and fake butter instead of the sugar and real stuff they raised me on. In some ways I feel closer to the way my grandparents lived than the way most of my family lives now. Still, I am glad that I was raised in a way that lets me recognize such things. There are many people in the world that don't question the way they live their lives because it simply would never occur to them that things could be different.

January 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Moonwaves said...

It is amazing how fundamental the change is, isn't it? When I used to shop in supermarkets (I will admit to still having and using several sets of bowls and serving dishes gotten for 'free' with multiple purchases of various jars of sauces - I was a big supermarket fan, including visiting local supermarkets while travelling as an essential part of touristy activity) I would sometimes think that it would be nice to shop at proper markets, buying direct from the producers and putting everything into a cute little basket. Now that that is what I actually do, however, I never have days where I think it would be nice to shop in a big supermarket with bright lights, tinny music and aisle upon aisle of multi-coloured packaging. I do still shop in supermarkets but really only for junk food (crisps and chocolate) when I'm feeling crap and ready to give up on everything. When I visited my sister in Australia last year she had waited to go shopping until I arrived so that I could choose stuff that I like and would eat. I wandered around that feeling totally out of place and not really knowing where to even start. It was weird. I'm even totally out of the habit of reading labels because so little of what I buy now even has a label.

January 27, 2013 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Woman Seeking Center said...

Now THAT's good shopping :-)

I recently read an article detailing how many ingredients in pre-packed food and juices are not what they are reported to be on the label (via various label-ingredient loopholes). Or are pure chemicals. It was beyond worrisome and angering.

I'm striving intently to buy in bulk, store in tin and glass (g'bye ziploc bags)! I'm searching for milk in glass or at least wax paper cartons and really dedicated to using natural (not chemical) cleaning products. Natural cleaning being more human safe and SO much less expensive. No doubt my grand and great grand mum would be amused to see me return to their household habits and routines.

Bit by bit I'm 'going home' to the old ways in every way I can. Thank goodness there's no 'app' or 'alert' or barcode for that lol While I'm indebted to the tech of blogs and online biz etc, I overall desire a life that is low-no-tech. It just feels a better way to live.....


January 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I just miss milk in glass bottles. It always arrived at our small town house like that when i was a kid... No bar codes would be nice. There are things about technology i love and things that.. well, since i don't like to use the word.. hate.. how's 'strongly dislike'?

January 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

It strikes me as ironic that our (not that distant) forebears yearned for appliances etc that would lessen the everyday drudgery of life as it was back then, and yet now, we can contemplate rejection of time-saving devices, yearning for a return to "the good old ways" of doing some a busy, working mum (who cooks our family's food from scratch 99% of the time), my microwave is just the ticket for defrosting, melting and reheating. Yes, we can (and have) lived without one, but it sure helps.

January 27, 2013 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Minder said...

I recently took a step back from a professional job after 20+ years. What I've found is that I no longer really know how to do some of the most basic things, like cook or shop for food. As my specialized job skills developed, the service industry developed right along with me, so much so that I never had to think about anything but my job. No survival skills for me. A phone and a credit card was all I needed. Now I'm having to relearn the basics. It's strange to realize I knew more at 18 than I do now, but the changes seemed like such a positive thing at the time.

January 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Completely agree with you! The more and more things become more technical, the more I intentionally go backwards. I just read your book...I loved it!

January 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Roe said...

Thanks for the inspiration Jenna!

January 28, 2013 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I can now take a picture of a check and deposit to my account without having to make the drive to my bank, which is not close to my house or work. To me that's an example of how technology can be awesome, and I'm glad I am in a time/place that I can choose when and how to use it.

I was at the grocery store over the weekend and the family behind me had, from an entire basket of groceries, one fresh food: a large bunch of bananas.

January 28, 2013 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger sequoia rose said...

I should hang a copy of that photo on my kitchen wall for co-op shopping inspiration. :) Beautiful.

January 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Yeah, I know what you mean about bar codes seeming weirder and weirder. I feel that way about all the advertising I see living in the city. I've gone through stages of ignoring it, to noticing it and feeling violated, to where I'm at now which is noticing it and just kind of smiling to myself, feeling like it's so old-world. I'm not saying we'll not have advertising in the future but I believe it will become much less obstrusive as people return to older skills and greater intimacy with each other through needing each other more for basic survival.

January 29, 2013 at 1:23 PM  

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