Food Crisis - And How I'M Fighting That One
0 comment Friday, May 2, 2014 |
Food prices are definitely soaring - I've noticed, as this month's bill took a bit of effort to keep it down to somewhat manageable levels. As ever, the fall back option for me is to cut back on what I eat so I can allow sproggo to carry on as usual. He doesn't take kindly to his meals being too varied - and even though I can sometimes sneak the occasional cheese sandwich or bowl of porridge into the weekly diet it's not something I can do too often.
There is actually talk of social unrest here in the UK if the prices on food go up. I rather think they're a bit behind the times - there's social unrest going on Right Now As We Type. But add food shortages in there and the rather boggling mindset of the government that wants to close down soup kitchens and negates the need for food banks, and there is certainly potential for a volatile situation.
Food is the one thing I will not budge on; I cut corners nearly everywhere else (clothing, shoes, transportation) but I do not cut on food. It is too necessary that Child and I eat healthy meals without fillers or additives. However, that sort of living can be costly and I pay the price for it: ordering non-homogenised local milk and additive-free meat pies from Abel & Cole, getting the best selections from the Sainsbury ranges, and so on means we don't have money for extras very often, but it's a sacrifice I am willing to make.
I have been allowing my principles to slide a fair whack because the thing about self-sufficiency (which I rarely see addressed) is it really works if you're able and physically fit enough to do it. However, if you have limited mobility and/or chronically ill or insert-other-issue-here it's a right PITA to try and do all those self-sufficient/homey things. I love doing it, believe me; fresh-baked bread and a meal I've made myself that my son actually eats is a delight! But going shopping at the local market is now impossible for me as I lack the mobility to get there and back again. Growing veg and fruit this year is going to be delegated to the first level of my garden so I no longer have to navigate the stairs as I often find it too difficult to do regularly. I loved sewing my own tea-towels but when my eyes are on the blink and my fingers are protesting, I can't hold a needle, let alone see what I'm doing. If I can't stand for long enough to cook (and sitting down at the stove isn't recommended at all) then all the effort of cooking something which my son then refuses to eat is more frustration than anything. In addition, the "cheap" stuff which I would normally bulk my diet out with are sometimes the last things I need to be eating. Therefore, we do have a tendency to eat prepared foods more than I'd like; a whole lot of sausages, ready-cook meals, cut and washed get the idea. Heigh ho.
Now speaking as someone with chronic illness, the first consideration is energy levels. If there is a time of the day you feel most fit and capable, make the most of that time. And when you start to fade - stop. Just stop. Really. I have the energy just after child goes to school where my mental faculties are awake, so there's an hour where I make calls and do paperwork. Then I have two hours when I can do physical stuff. When noon rolls around, that is the end of my day as far as getting stuff done. I use the remaining three hours to rest and get ready for my son's return. At 3pm I decide whether I will have the energy to cook his tea or order in. If I have managed the time well, the I can cook. If real life throws me a curve ball, then I order in a pizza (which I can no longer eat, so I save energy to cook myself something I can). I no longer get the guilts about this; you do only what you can do.
Want a good example of this? Right - as a spoonie you probably think you accomplish absolutely nothing of worth because, well, society tells us if we don't work we don't actually do anything. And it's easy to get into that mode of thinking. So, make a list of all the things you DID do. And yes, as a person with a disability or chronic conditions, getting dressed and brushing your teeth counts! Chances are you've come up with a fairly large list. I've actually caught myself sighing today about "how little I've got done" as there's dishes in the sink and I have yet to start some laundry, but then I've also realised I've worked in the garden, had to perform emergency getting-sprog-to-school duty, filled out the census papers, called two schools I want to go and have a look at for child, got the groceries put away after delivery, assembled a lamp downstairs so I finally have some light to do needlework and so on, broke down the boxes and packaging from said lamp, got the tea-time curry marinating in the fridge, plotted out child's meal when he gets home and washed two of my coats which were in desperate need of it. "Not done anything" indeed! Did I get everything done that I need to get done? Not at all - but I got a fair whack of it and I have learned to leave the rest till I have a more opportune time. Tomorrow won't work as I have to get into town and that task alone saps all my energy. Friday I will be recovering. Saturday and Sunday are Wumpy Days and I need all my spoons by then. You cope with it; you have to. It serves no purpose at all to operate on anyone's schedule but yours. Easier said than done, you say? Yes, probably but put it this way - you know what happens if you don't, right? Exactly.
The simple truth of the matter is you have to get creative if you're not quite as capable as other folk. I've mentioned the Crockpot Love for one; nothing like bunging it all in a pot, forgetting about it for eight hours, then coming back to find a lovely stew! This has become the staple of my kitchen and provides me with food when I'm having a "I just can't stand up today" time of it. I have done tagines and noodle soups, soups with rice and all sorts in this baby and it is worth it every time. It saves me loads of energy as I cannot eat my son's very limited diet for days on end without doing myself a damage.
I do what I now call "haiku gardening" - if I can only do ten minutes of garden-potter then I do ten minutes. End of. There's no one to impress with super-Herculean efforts when I'm at home, and so if I only have the energy for a very short stretch of gardeny stuff, then I do it and feel no shame for it. This morning I set up the first of my grow-houses - I've got two, but I only got the first one done. I'm getting it stretched and warmed up in the sun as the plastic is notoriously brittle and it needs to acclimate to being on the frame. I haven't got anything in it yet. I haven't prepped where it's going either because it can wait. A more capable person with more strength and energy probably could have sorted out placement, assembly, and even started getting the first few offerings settled in out in a two hour stretch but I can't. And that's okay. Instead I've managed to come in, get warm, conserve strength then go out later when I've recovered a bit. I divided and planted the raspberry canes from last year, spreading them out in a row in one of my planting troughs, giving it a good topdress of composted manure whilst I was at it. Did I get the fertiliser down for it too? Nope; it got too cold and I know now when to stop. Forgive yourself and don't see your small bursts of effort as a waste of time. One pulled weed, one packet of seeds planted is one more part of the whole. I don't aim to finish a job - I aim to do only as much as I can do and leave it at that.
The other thing I'm a huge proponent of is container gardening and "Don't make me bend" gardening. My raised bed outside is one of the main growspaces I have, and while I do have to get very creative to keep birds, slugs, and cats out of it, it's amazing what I can cram into such a small space. I grow all our beans, peas, a fair few herbs, and successive rows of lettuces and carrots in this baby, and sometimes have room for flowers as well. I grew loads in that space last year and it always surprised me how receptive sprog was to things growing away in the garden - food I never thought he'd touch, he ate regularly, snacking on peas out of the pod, chewing on mint, and pulling his own carrots for tea. Better still, I had everything right outside so it was just a matter of hobbling out there, giving it a water, and checking on everything without trying to organise a trip to the allotment (and all the transport/spoons/etc headaches that entailed). It was literally right out the back door. Saved so much time. The other perk about container gardening is the relative lack of weeding compared to allotments; there's just too much stuff in a pot for weeds to get a foothold if you do it properly! So, sorted.
I concentrate on growing what is expensive in the shops, and fruit over the past few years has certainly been that! The price for a punnet of raspberries in the shops will tell you right away how eating fresh fruit is turning into a luxury - and why is that when the stuff will grow outside? I never cease to be baffled at how people will drive past fields of bramble to then buy blackberries at the store. I currently have the two tubs filled with about 80 strawberry plants, raspberry canes in the one long trough, a tayberry which needs transplanting as well, a mulberry tree, a cherry tree, a duo-minarette pear and duo-minarette apple. These are small manageable trees which give us enough fruit to feed us but won't produce so much that we can't possibly eat it all. Just right for two people! Cutting down on waste and excess in the garden is important as not only will you be busting your chops to try and grow stuff which you'll never eat, but then you've got to clear up the mess as well. Just cleaning up all the windfall apples from the tree next door that drops into my garden is often a huge effort I never quite manage to sort - I don't need any extra work on top of everything I'm already doing.
This honestly is a post that could go on, and on, and on....but I'll leave this here as a basic starter. I've had to give a rethink myself as this year finds me more and more challenged on the mobility front, and this has meant that the way I did things last year probably aren't going to work this year quite so much. Still, there's a gameplan, and I'm following through, slowly but surely.

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