Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Gluts, Gluttony, Greed

I was thinking about my gluts the other day, as you do. I know, I know, I'm a bit weird, but they just never stopped coming this year and it was hard to stop thinking about them. This was mainly because I was either picking them or filling the kitchen counter with them. Gluts will take over when you start growing. Be warned, you could be as weird as me!

It led me to think about gluttony, and the fact that it was a deadly sin. I'd never made the connection of the two words before. I think we tend to look at gluttony nowadays purely as greed, it conjures up images of eating a whole tub of ice cream in front of the TV, or the Christmas tin of quality street in one go (guilty, I'm afraid). But when I think of gluts, I don't think of that sort of greed.

In the past few years, gluts for me have led to wastage, the fruit and veg coming in, life taking over and the inevitable walk  of shame to the compost heap. Its not good. The swing from excited Spring through to overwhelmed late Summer is kind of messed up, and I have been guilty of waste in the last few years. But THIS year has been a bit different. Aided by the pressure I have put on myself with this blog, a PDC still fresh in my brains and the fact that the last few weeks have been kept clear due to an imminent arrival, I have been canning, juicing, preserving and cooking up all the produce coming my way. There ain’t no raspberry gonna turn on me!

Eggs by the dozen, cucumbers, gherkins, beans, and tomatoes have just kept coming. Obtain a yield is a permaculture principle, but it is only realised when that yield becomes a useful one. Having a kitchen full of produce slowly rotting does not count.

So I made tomato sauce, and put it into sterilised jars ( thanks to big sister Debs for pointing that one out!), I made pickled gherkins, quiches to use up the eggs because quiches are very manly. I juiced cucumbers like they were going out of fashion, and now I’m going to live forever because I’m so alkaline. The apples from the garden have all been used, and whilst the meagre amount of sauce and pickles done this year won't save a great deal on the grocery budget, the process of learning to pickle, process and use stuff began. 

Learning these skills and using them is empowering. The most important part of my lifestyle design – it gives me the skills to take advantage of random opportunities like other peoples gluts or forage, to experiment, to feed us healthily, save a bit of money and extract me ever so slightly further from shitty food manufacturers. Next year, when the shack is up and running, and the perennials are another year older, we will have more to use and play with. My shift to freedom will accelerate.

There is a theory that a lot of the man made stuff we eat ( the ice cream, cheesecake, doughnuts etc...) the processed crap that tastes soooo good, does not trigger a 'full' response in our brains the way that a more natural food would. It's why Atkins or paleo diets work, because they split carbs and fats. The body will not want to continually eat a food that does not contain one or other of those, whereas a cheesecake, which contains about 50 50 fats to carbs ratios, produces a craving response. You don't get this from cucumbers. Or eggs. Or tomatoes. You can't physically eat too much of any of this stuff on its own, and I'm struggling to think of anything in its natural state that produces a response in me like a tub of strawberry cheesecake ice cream. 

So pickling, canning, etc..  is the way to really obtain a yield, minimising that walk of shame. So too is sharing and gifting. You ain’t gonna eat a massive bowl of tomatoes while you watch game of thrones. 

Gluttony in my mind then,  becomes the failure to take advantage of gluts, and avoiding wastage, stretching your yield, eating seasonally, and growing the right amount of the right stuff become the tenets to live by. It makes us healthier, happier and richer to live within these natural cycles, so be kind to yourself, avoid gluttony, and be as greedy as you can.

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