From What We Want… to What We Have

My new mantra is: Start With What You Have.

Before I knew about the benefits of organic, local, unwrapped eating, I used to grocery shop like this: step one, think of something I want to eat; step 2, check which ingredients I had already (usually only a few); step 3, go to the grocery store to purchase the rest of the ingredients without a thought as to whether the items were in season or from whence they came. Step 4, ignore all the other produce in my refrigerator since it doesn’t mesh with my initial craving and can therefore rot. Literally.

Now that I have joined a CSA, my outlook has changed. I receive fresh, local, organic food one day each week. Now my grocery shopping looks like this: step 1, take stock of what is in the refrigerator. Purple sweet potatoes? Bok Choy? Celery? Oranges? Tomatoes? Squash? Kale? Swiss Chard? Step 2, brainstorm what I can make with the ingredients I already have. I love my Farmer’s Market Cook Book as an aid in this process. Step 3, skip the grocery store, skip the packaged foods, skip the crowded parking lots and the traffic because I usually have everything I need already.

Aside from taking fewer trips to the grocery store, saving money on ingredients I would buy once and never use again, and eating food that tastes better since it is in season, I also learned some valuable lessons.

When we start with what we have, we learn gratitude.  We are forced to recognize the bounty before us instead of the ever present void of yet-to-be-purchased.

When we start with what we have, we waste less. We find uses for things that initially seemed useless. Um, excuse me…. anybody tried Kale Chips before?

When we start with what we have, we humble ourselves. How can I possibly desire more when I already have so much? From a spiritual standpoint,  “Dear God, please give me a,b,c” becomes “Dear God, thank you for x, y, z,” and suddenly, our needs don’t come first.

When we start with what we have, life slows down. It is not the next thing, but the now thing– the present moment, item, person– that claims our attention.

If we can start with what we have, perhaps we will be able to save some of what we already have for those coming after us. Can we not use items made from natural materials instead of those that are synthetically (often toxically) produced? Can we not use the energy we already have from the sun and wind instead of creating batteries? Can we not slow down the buy, throw away, buy, throw away cycle that clutters our homes and our world?

Can we start with what we have, please?

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About epdwilliams

Junior High English Teacher The Westminster Schools
This entry was posted in A Sustainable Life, Education, Food, Pearls of Wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to From What We Want… to What We Have

  1. Bo Adams says:

    What an elegant and powerful post. Thank you.

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