Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dark Days: Final Thoughts

The Dark Days challenge officially ends March 31 (the final recap will be on April 7) and so I wanted to include some reflections in my last Dark Days post. The best part of the challenge experience for me has been getting to be a part of the little Dark Days blogging community. I will miss them when this is over (sob!), but I’ll keep reading my new favorites! Thanks so much, Laura, for all your hard work!

I signed up for the challenge (see my first post) thinking I’d learn more about finding and using local foods, but I took a delightful side trail that led me into making new types of foods from scratch. The most successful was pasta, but I’ve also learned how to make bagels, refried beans, grape juice and I'm still working on cheese. Next on my list to try are tortillas and butter! Even though the challenge is over, I plan to continue my quest to eat more local foods and write about cooking topics. I enjoy it. I hope my "cute Munchkin" stories readers do, too!

It struck me this week that as a result of the challenge, I have tuned in to what is currently in season. Munchkin was recently given a book that is saccharinely sappy. Naturally, he loves it. While reading it to him, I realized that I could accept that the little bunnies made a strong, beautiful, sweet basket for their mama, but it just wasn’t right that they used spring flowers and ripe blackberries at the same time! What was the author thinking?!! My husband laughed, but I told Munchkin that even though we’re checking the garden daily for spring tulips, he will have to wait until August for ripe blackberries.

As I've navigated various, shall we call them, "challenges," to eating local, I've been working on my personal philosophy. I was planning to write a grandiose post in the tradition of the elusive "theory of everything," but I find that my ideas continue to evolve. There's some great thinking out there on this topic from the simple: Pollan's "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." to the hierarchy: "Eat local. If local is not available, then family farm. If not family farm, then organic, etc." to the complex: an excellent and thought provoking essay by Gary Paul Nabham (Coming Home to Eat).

I think the bigger the picture, the better when it comes to this sort of thing. Even the latest energy-saving advice contradicts itself given enough time (consider the conflicting advice on using compact fluorescent light bulbs). While it's great to eat such fresh food, I want my choices to have a positive impact on more than just my taste buds. Also, for me as a Christian, if it doesn't pass the "Love your neighbor as yourself" test, it doesn't pass -- meaning we shouldn't exploit others to enrich ourselves. For example, I agree with the philosophy behind the Fair Trade groups, even if it makes certain foods too expensive to eat every day. It also matters how the farm workers, factory workers and even the animals are treated. The problem is, we live in a complex mixed-up world and choices can't always be pure. I think our American consumer lifestyle is also so mixed-up that to fix it means really, really radical changes. I could write pages more, and some day I will, but that's a snapshot of where I am right now. I welcome your comments.

I've really enjoyed the challenge. This is my last Dark Days post (unless I bake the last of my frozen berries into Laura's Triple Berry Upside Down Cake before Monday!). Thanks to the many Dark Days readers who have checked out my blog. I hope you keep visiting!


kale for sale said...

I love your second to the last paragraph. You said that so beautifully about the far reaching impact of our choices and wanting them to have a postive impact. Bill McKibben said a very similar thing about being neighborly in the broadest sense of the word. Thank you.

Donna said...

Thanks so much. I always love reading your comments. :)

I'm not familiar with Bill McKibben, and I'd be interested to read his comments. Can you send me in the right direction?