Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I've been reading a lot lately about ways to save the earth like using your car less often, buying local food, recycling, and all that "crunchy granola" stuff. I'm a big fan of it, but the truth is that I usually end up being lazy and driving my car to the supermarket to get some food that's been shipped halfway around the world. Since moving here, however, we've been working hard to make some lifestyle changes that I hope will benefit the environment. The main reason we've been doing them is because we're poor, but I hope the good karma from earth-friendly living will help us out in the long run.

First of all, we've started drying our clothes on a clothesline instead of in the dryer. The weather here is hot and sunny, and we have to pay one dollar per load of laundry, so the choice was simple. Plus we have a little patio on the back of our apartment that's just right for clothes drying. I'm still trying to decide if I want to pay for drying my undies in the dryer; part of me feels uncomfortable about hanging them out for everyone to stare at when they walk by.

I've also fallen in love with the farmer's market here. We are right in the middle of farmland, so it's an obvious choice. Most of the produce is pretty cheap and I've managed to stay in budget while still enjoying some tasty things. I'd love to have more money to buy stuff like artisan olive oil or handcrafted tortillas, but for now I'm happy with fresh-picked grapes and cucumbers. (The grapes actually aren't a great deal, since they're $2.00 a pound, but their taste is fabulous.) The pictures here are from the 20 pound box of peaches I bought the other day. I stopped by a farm stand a few miles down the road and noticed that they had peaches for a dollar a pound. I asked the lady there if she would sell me a box and she looked at me like I was crazy. But she still did it and she only charged me seventeen dollars. They were beautiful peaches too--perfectly ripe and golden yellow on the inside. Now we have seven quarts of frozen peaches and eight jars of cinnamon-peach jam for the winter. Assuming they last that long. They could be gone by October.

Also this afternoon we finally got around to fixing up my bike. It's been unrideable for several years due to severe neglect, but while I was taking a nap this afternoon Mr. Fob cleaned it up for me. I need to have someone figure out why I can only ride in a few gears, but it is rideable now. This evening we took a bike ride as a family on one of the fabulous bike trails they have here. This morning I took my car to run errands and got a parking ticket for staying in one space too long downtown (and I'm still mad at myself because I was in the bank and should have moved my car to the bank parking lot), so I think that from now on I will be riding my bike down to the farmer's market instead. I just need to get a basket.

These kinds of changes really do require a lot of work. I spent several hours Wednesday night literally slaving over a hot stove making jam. Then I spent several hours on Thursday night peeling and slicing peaches and packing them with sugar into bags. My butt hurts from riding my bike, and if I were to take a car I could enjoy air conditioning and avoid helmet hair. Clothes dried outside sure smell good, but they also turn out crunchy. The nice thing is, however, that the hard work has benefits. I think riding a bike will help get me in shape without having to go to the gym, and I'm hoping we can cut our gas usage to one tank a month. And I'm really going to appreciate those peaches knowing how much work I put into them. Plus now I can have all kinds of liberal superiority and nothing beats that. I can my own jam and ride my bike to school. That must make me a better person, right?


Chillygator said…
I'm sort of curious, are you towing your children on your bike? Because, that would TOTALLY be hard-core. Some days I wish I didn't live 30 miles from work (most of that freeway) because I'd love to be able to ride my bike. In the mean time, I admire your effort. Canning...wow.
Way to go foxyj. We have one small farmer's market here that I've gone to a couple of times, but unfortunately we don't live in farm country. It's too hot here to produce much of anything good during the summer. Hopefully it picks up now that cooler weather is (cross your fingers) moving in.

Anyway, the farmer's market prices here are not good, but I felt good about contributing to local/family farms. Imagine my disgust when I looked closer at the plums I bought las week when some of them had CA stickers!!! I felt ripped off and cheated. I could have bought those plums in the grocery store for a better price dangit!
Desmama said…
I'd love to get the recipe for the cinnamon peach jam. It sounds delicious, and we'll be getting peaches here before too long. I have plans to put up apricot and raspberry jam, as well as can some peaches.
Kailey said…
Ha, ha. You are awesome Foxy. I miss ya...
Edgy said…
I think that does make you a better person.


Because life is, of course, a competition, I'm trying to convince Dec that we want to build a greenhouse and start growing our own yucky foods. And there's a section of our lawn that we're thinking of taking out to turn into a garden. When all that is done, we will be better people. ;) We might have to share in the better person bit, though, and have you teach us how to can when you're out visiting next summer.
Earth Sign Mama said…
You know, all these things-canning my own food, having a garden, sewing, riding bikes, recycling-are all done because I liked doing them, and my mom taught me that it was a smart way to live. Plus, home-canned food tastes better to me. Hmmm, I never thought about being a superior person this way, hmmm. Yet another great reason!
Th. said…

I was just realizing today that the thing to do with all our tomatoes will be some sort of canning project.

Ah, crap.

I hate canning.
Kristeee said…
Go, you! I love the feeling of doing something good for my health and the earth at the same time. When my backyard isn't a dirt pit I hang all the clothes out during the summer and warm fall days. With some fabric softener in the loads the clothes don't get so crunchy.
Liberal superiority is great. We've gotten a healthy dose of it in our diet since moving to the NW too. Elitist? Heck yeah.
ambrosia ananas said…
That jam sounds amazing. And in addition to the benefits of being a morally superior person, it's always nice to have exercise that's just part of the day, instead of something that has to be scheduled in. I miss that.
Julie said…
I have a freezer full of homemade strawberry AND raspberry jam, however I do not ride a bike anywhere, don't even own one actually. So where does that put me in the order of superiority?
We are doing a good bit of canning and gardening this year as well. I tell myself that it is to teach my children the value of work and the correlation between the earth and what we eat, but a lot of it is driven by our poverty. I say good choices, no matter the motivation, are still good choices, right?
Maraiya said…
A friend told me to use liquid fabric softener in your wash and the line dried clothes should come out softer. She says it works. I've never tried it.

Good luck canning. I'm giving it up and not feeling the slightest guilt about it. Just much joy and rejoicing! (Although cinnamon peach jam does make me want to can just a little.)

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