Thursday, December 1, 2011

Small Things

a particularly good day in the garden this summer

It started with a large pizza. Double Cheese, no meat. There were three of us. Two of my best friends and me sitting down to a lunch, each of us with our own large pizza. Even as we devoured them we chuckled at the ridiculousness of it. It was a good natured chuckle, like when my daughter puts her dress on backwards. It should have been full blown panic at how lazy and complacent at I had become.

We finished our pizzas and I felt terrible for the rest of the afternoon (and probably through the evening too, though I can’t remember). That was my watershed moment when I knew that something had gone terribly wrong. I really hope that’s the only one I need. I cringe at the thought of having to go through the years leading up to that moment again.

The change began slowly, with a decision to eat more fruits and vegetables and stop eating deserts for a while. After a month or so of that, I was amazed at not only how much better I felt, but how much nicer I was to my friends, my wife, my kids...there was kindness and gentleness in me that I was unfamiliar with. We continued to make small changes gradually for a while. We did more of our produce shopping at farmers markets. We bought locally raised roasting chickens. I began to study bread-baking after I looked at how many ingredients were on regular store-bought bread. Thankfully, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, so it wasn’t a stretch to begin to prepare more foods fresh and at home.

As these changes began to add up over the months in our family, we noticed some lasting effects. First, we generally felt better. We noticed the food preparation had become valuable family hang-out time. We would often put on music and have (as my daughter likes to call them) crazy dance parties as dinner was being prepared. Maybe most of all, we noticed that when we prepared fresh food, the taste was remarkably better then anything we bought from the store. From meat to produce to bread to ice cream...when we made it at home, it was just better.

This inspired us to plant a garden this past spring. We were virgin gardeners, struggling to this point to keep our houseplants from dying. We had recently moved to a house with an acre or so of land, so we had space available, and we decided to give it a shot. Since it was our first time, I didn’t really have any paradigm for success, but I thought it went great. For a good three to four months we had an abundance of fresh produce at virtually every meal. The kids began to look forward to daily harvesting trips to the garden and we had so many tomatoes and potatoes that we are still able to enjoy some of the fruits of that garden right now (thanks to youtube tutorials on skinning and freezing tomatoes), We liked the garden experiment so much that we are planning to triple the size of it for this coming season.

Because my whims, discipline and moods are about as predictable as Michigan weather, we have certainly had our ups and downs with these changes. I have still enjoyed my fair share of McDonalds burgers in the last year (don’t judge) and the Fraaza family loves it’s ice cream (homade or can’t be good for you)...but slowly, over a couple of years we have made a number of small, sustainable changes that have led us to this next chapter. The changes don’t have to be big and they don’t have to be many. By starting small (and lacking any noble nutritional or philosophical reasons at the time) we were able to begin to see what we were missing.

This is how we got here...

1 comment:

  1. That was not our best day ... but God redeemed it for good. Love the posts.