A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend about the word sustainable, and how it really isn’t something we should be striving for. Sustainable means to steady on the course, keep things going the same way, unchanged, constant. I realize that popular environmental culture has embraced the word as did I, but when I think about how permaculture effects my daily life… my goal as a permaculturist is to improve things, and have a net positive effect on my world, not to steady on the course! Things are a mess, especially in our industrialized food system. I realized that my very blog title was in conflict with how I actually cook, and grow and eat… and the word Seasonal really resonates much more with my food world than did Sustainable. Maybe you noticed already but I have created a new blog banner and some fresh winter colours that embraces the new S in SOLE food, even in these cold months: SEASONAL, ORGANIC, LOCAL, ETHICAL… S.O.L.E. Food.
The winter certainly is a challenging time of year to eat from ones land, or even locally in most parts of this country. More and more I am learning how to use and rotate my food supply, I am well stocked up but certain items need to be utilized and restocked regularly. This means knowing that all the food I put up, is food my family enjoys (in volume) and can be incorporated into meals on a regular basis.
I can’t tell you how reassuring it feels to not have to goto the store every day or every other day for meal items. Of course I miss my garden under it’s blanket of snow but I have stashed away so much of it’s bounty that I do get to enjoy it all winter long. Eating seasonally and from my communities food shed, means going without all sorts of things… fruit for example, I just don’t really eat fresh fruit in the winter… apples of course are kicking around still as are pears, but mostly I processed them all into chips, sauce and butter. And frankly I just don’t need a pineapple in Decmber … in fact I don’t really need to invest the travel miles into the purchase of a pineapple any time of year really. I prefer sun warmed and peak ripened fruit from my own trees to the bland global gallivanting fruits from the south.
But yes I do have some luxury imports like rice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coffee, and chocolate, (all of which I buy as ethically as possible, looking for trusted brands who nourish workers and land), but my day to day meals come largely from gardens and pastures I have dug my hands into the soil of. And this feels so good, to eat and nourish my family with.
Right now I am making butter from the heavy layer of cream on my gallon jar of raw farm fresh milk, which I trade weekly for 2 dozen eggs from my heritage birds. These chickens survive this time of year on organic layers mash, but my gardening plans for next year include a huge push to grow more chicken and rabbit feed, so that our animals are feed from our land too, well after the snow covers their forage land.
The last of our kale has been dried and eaten, and while I still have some brussel sprouts and beets and carrots out in the snow, I am now heavily relying on what I have put up to feed us. This means we are eating a LOT more meat that I am used too, along with sauerkraut, squash, potatoes, garlic, onions, pumpkin, dried fruit and veggies. I am baking a lot with oats and whole grains I am grinding fresh. We eat rice or quinoa and beans and lentils many times a week. We have a zillion eggs right now as our flock has almost tripled since last year, and I am collecting nearly 1.5 dozen eggs a day. Many of our friends are hunting so we are enjoying venison as a nice treat when we can. My freezer is stocked with cow and pork our friends raised and again we traded our services for. My pantry is full of smoked fish, chutneys, pickles, sauces, and for fruit cravings there is no end of low sugar jams and jellies made from fruit my sweet sister in law or I picked at it’s peak.
We are not starving and nothing is stopping us from going to the local organic market for what ever our hearts desire but just having a surplus and knowing that all of my efforts this last year have amounted to a good supply of real food, makes the “lean” winter months even more tasty that I ever anticipated.