June 2011 - Posts - Yankee 2.0
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Yankee 2.0

June 2011 - Posts

  • Using up food

    I recently discovered a blog called The Non-Consumer Advocate whose motto is "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I've been focusing on using up food recently. I've got all sorts of weird ingredients sitting around the fridge and the cupboard that I either bought for a specific recipe or got because I thought it looked interesting. I happen to think that spices last much longer than their expiration dates, but I did notice that I have some non-spice items that are getting sort of long in the tooth. So I'm concocting recipes where I can use these things up so that I don't have to wait until they go bad and then throw them out.

    Sometimes when I buy a special ingredient for a recipe, I think of it as "really special" and don't want to waste it by using it. I realize this is kind of irrational -- it's much more wasteful to buy it and not use it! I don't want to get bogged down by foodstuffs that I'm not using regularly, so I'm going to try to put more thought into my ingredients purchases. I tend to make mostly the same things, and I tend to like pretty similar food -- either really simple stuff like eggs and potatoes, or stuff that doesn't require fancy ingredients like Italian food, or delicious Indian food which is kind of complicated, but I do have all those spices on hand -- so I think I'll try to curtail my purchases of ingredients outside the regular rotation, so that I won't have any more five year old bottles of mustard oil that I'll have to try to make use of in the future. 


  • Imaginary trip back in time, grocery version

    One of my many part-time jobs involves doing market research in retail stores. I lurk in aisles observing shopper behavior and then ask people questions about things they looked at on the shelves. I love this job (the pay is great, there's no one breathing down my neck, and I like hearing what people say about their shopping habits). I was working on a project in a grocery store today, and it was pretty slow, which gave me time to think. And I stopped for a minute and loooked around at all the advertising -- the packaging, the stickers, the flyers, the end caps -- there are so many ads designed to lure us to buy, buy, buy (and the work that I do as a market researcher is geared towards helping the advertisers be more effective with their work). So many people were just wandering and looking lost -- looking for guidance from the packaging and displays.

    I imagined how different shopping must have been back in "the old days" when you just bought flour or oil or string and butcher paper, rather than being faced with shelf after shelf of options for the things you actually need, not to mention stuff no one needs but we wind up buying because the marketers are so good at what they do.

    I love to read novels set in the late 19th and early 20th century, and shopping is described so differently in that era. Shoppers would walk into the general store with a little list and the grocer would measure out the provisions needed and bundle them up, probably sending a shop boy to carry them home.If the shopper needed guidance, she (or he) would ask the grocer, who was a trusted source of advice. "Will castor oil help little Timmy's colic?" was more apt to be a question (at least in my novels), unlike today's shopper's silent inner questioning of "should I get fat free, reduced fat, air spun, or splenda ice cream?"

    A lot of things in our modern lives are fantastic achievements, especially in domestic time saving devices, but the idea of a less commercial life that is less saturated by advertisements is very appealing.

  • On being different

    Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be different. Sometimes I wanted to be different from other people, sometimes I wanted to be different from who I actually was. When I was a teen, I was all about punk music and funky hair and I spent some time traveling and being sort of off the grid, in my 20's and 30's I oscillated between being deeply involved in alternative community organizing efforts (fighting the system) and being deeply involved in a consumer lifestyle (letting the system win). Now that I'm in my 40's (eek!), I'm feeling really comfortable with who I am, and I don't do anything simply for the point of being different, yet sometimes I realize that I just am different from a lot of the people in my everyday life.

    There are a lot of things about "the system" that I disagree with, but rather than fighting to try to make big changes in society, I'm living my life in a way that meshes with my own personal values. Instead of making a lot of noise about how bad things are and telling people what they should do, I'm quietly living a really good life. Some people think I'm weird -- I was telling someome recently about my one in, one out policy, and she said "boy, I wouldn't want to live in your world"-- back when I used to actively aim to be thought of as different or weird, I would have loved to hear that. Now, I'm just a little surprised, because I love my world, so sometimes I forget how different it is.

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