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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Food for thought

Over the Christmas holiday I came across this journal given to me many years ago by my pen pal in America and which I had used to jot down my thoughts etc in diary form. I hadn't used it for many years - it sat forgotten on the bookshelf - and I started to read through some of my entries.

Anyway it got me thinking of how my life has changed since the time I used to write in the journal and what with New Year being a time for reflection on times past and of the future I got to thinking how I would like to change my lifestyle back to how it used to be back then. I was always busy and often stressed but I seemed to do so much more. I worked on the allotment as we grew a lot of our own veggies, I baked bread, went for walks and came back laden with blackberries or crab apples which I turned into preserves, I bought organic whenever possible and I was a vegetarian. We kept chickens and as far as we could we tried to live a self sufficient green lifestyle.

I think it all changed when we went to France where it was difficult at that time to find much organic produce, being a vegetarian was very hard, I was cooking for just the two of us and my husband is definitely a meat and two veg lad so whereas cooking a vegetarian option for my daughter and myself as well as meat for him didn't seem too much of a hassle now it seemed that I drifted into eating what he liked as it was easier.

I love the quote on the bookmark - so true!

Then I came across this book in the library - I was shocked by what I read. I know that a lot of food is wasted but hadn't realised just how much perfectly good stuff is sent to landfill or used to make biofuel. Apparently if we wasted less there would be sufficient food in the world to feed everyone but we in the developed world demand cheap food which must look good (no knobbly potatoes nor twisted carrots allowed) and be available as and when we want it regardless of season. Then when we get it home we often don't use it all and it goes to waste again.

Next time I was in the library this book called to me and I took it out. It tells in diary form of a year the author (who must be a social historian I think) spent living as she might have done in the 1790s - a project she undertook as she too was shocked having read "Not on the Label" by Felicity Lawrence. The Garden Cottage Diaries was an interesting easy to read book which I really enjoyed. Again it got me thinking.

Then yesterday I read about Carol Klein - someone who I aspire to be more like both in attitude and looks - I once took a photo of her to the hairdressers asking for a similar style! - and I discovered that she is just one year younger than I am. If you saw her programme on Friday and saw her at the top of that ladder hacking at an overgrown clematis you will be as surprised as I was to see her age and especially to discover that she has apparently had both hips replaced.a

So there is no excuse - I must get up off my bum and get going - I have been under the impression that I am now an old lady (I have had a bus pass for some time now!) and therefore can't be expected to do this or that but now I see age is not a number it is an attitude. So my resolution for 2011 is to get out in the garden more and to grow more food, to return to my preferred vegetarian diet, to purchase less and to use everything I buy (I have started washing out my plastic bags and reusing them as my mother taught me!) to waste less and to consume less and to make more of my own food from scratch. Maybe then I will sleep better at night having spent my days working in the fresh air and being physically active. I have no desire to return to the 1700s as indeed the author of the book said herself - she relished electricity and a soft comfortable bed, to have water on tap etc. but I want to be more in control of what I eat and how I live my life.a
I do seem to have ranted on a bit but you will also be glad to know that another of my resolutions is to be more active and to spend less time sitting at the computer - to this end I will be blogging less and it may be that I don't get to comment as often as before on all your posts for which I apologise.


  1. good for you jane, as i was reading your post i kept thinking of that tv series from the uk, the good life, which i loved at the time and found it hilarious! Happy gardening, if you got really tech savvy you could tweet your posts from the garden! Thats if you have a ph that does that sort of thing, i dont, anyway, live life to the full, get out and do your thing!
    veggy good fun!

  2. Hi Jane
    It's so interesting to come across old diaries isn't it?! Good for you for getting on and doing something about the things that bother you!
    Did you watch the Panorama programme on supermarkets and cheap food just prior to Christmas? With 'mega-dairies' and piggeries it really was an eye opener! I missed it when it was one, but caught up with it on iplayer this week. It really made me think about what the purchasing choices I make!

  3. I like your decision Jane (even if it means you won't always be around here). I admire your determination and I agree that age is just a number. Go out and get active then!

  4. Well that all sounds good to me!
    Best wishes in your new lifestyle Jane, I think it's great!
    Vivienne x

  5. Dear Jane, how like you to be questioning your own worth. I cannot imagine that you live a profligate life in any way. Do take it slowly when you take on more gardening, Carol Klein has been at it for years, continually, even if she has had both hips replaced! And good for you for being determined to be more self sufficient, but you could keep a blog diary of your progres (She adds selfishly) as I would miss your regular words of wisdom :)
    Jill x

  6. I've always admired Carol Klein too. Good luck with your plan for 2011, I'm hoping to be a bit more energetic this year as well. Hope you manage to find the time to keep us up to date with how you are getting on.

  7. This sounds absolutely great to me! You will enjoy this new regime, I'm sure, and it's so healthy and eco friendly - a winning combination. Let us know how you get on, once in a while?! Helen x

  8. Well done, Jane. I've just blitzed the fridge and have two huge pans of soup simmering - lots of knobbly veggies as we try to buy locally from farm shops. Don't think we can become self-sufficient - no garden and I'd never keep up an allotment. Mango Cheeks over at Allotment2Kitchen ( creates fantastic vegetarian recipes, by the way.

  9. p.s. that should have read no room in garden for veggies except a few pots.
    x Jane

  10. Jane,
    I watched that programme on Friday and was just in awe of Carol's energy. She is certainly the person to get anyone enthusiastic about gardening and it made me want to do more in the garden rather than just supervise! I abhor food waste and have also started to think twice about using too much water. I'm convinced we use more than is necessary but it's too easy to get hold of. Familiarity breeding contempt I think. I hope you keep blogging or staying in touch. The others are right - your words of wisdom often come at the time we need them most! Lesley xx

  11. So true that as a nation we waste far too much food and resources :-( Rant as much as you like, loved that blog post.

  12. I am another who can't abide wasted food: goes back to when I was on my own with two children I think. I also adore Carol Klein and she just has such an infectious enthusiasm...... I shall look forward to your posts as much as ever even if you publish less often.... :O))))

  13. There seems to be a lot of publicity around at the moment about this huge waste of food. Do you think the topic has come up as a reaction to the excesses of Christmas? It is terrible. I have to say we are pretty good here about not wasting food but then we eat it all and put on weight !!!
    Great resolutions but don't stay away too much. We'll be glad to hear about your progress in the garden and I hope you'll share some vegetarian recipes with us too. You'll be jumping out of your skin with good health.

  14. Hi Jane!
    Your letter waited for me here. Thank you so much! I love it all!
    Take Care!

  15. Good luck with being more active! x

  16. Oh Jane,
    This was not a rant at all, but you sharing your past with us and your plans for the future. All of which I read with delight. Thank you so much for coming by my blog, I was humbled and it was most appreciated.

    Sadly I no longer have an allotment, I lost it early last year in a fire, so now grow very little in my tiny garden plot and pots and try to eat seasonally. With the loss of my allotment plot I too have been lagging with the energetic activities, so that is something we both share for this year. I don't want to call it exercise because then it will sound like a chore :(

    I am so looking forward to reading about your growing garden and homely grub.

    I missed Carols programme on Friday so Thanks for reminding me. I will now have to catch it on IPlayer and I must also go by and Thank Jee too.

    Warmest of wishes.

  17. Love your thinking.... we try to grow our own, reuse and recycle etc etc, but sometimes there is not enough time to juggle everything and convienience takes over. We to are trying to start the New Year, eating better, wasting less and getting more active ...... Missed Carols programme, but will try to catch it this week.

  18. Hello Jane,
    Thoughtful post...thank you. I think age is an attitude, not a can be 'old' at 50....or not at all! I'm always saying to my Dad (still active in his mid 80s), "If you don't use it, you lose it!" So enjoy fitting more activity and exercise in to your days, I'm sure you'll be all the better for it!
    Diana x

  19. Jane, forget Carol Klein, it's Felicity Kendall you should be aspiring too. So when you're done pruning the montana on your highest ladder, you can put on the sequins and do the splits. Much better, you see? By the way, none of this 'less blogging' lark please, you'll have boundless energy, I imagine you can fit it ALL in!!!
    (PS - yes, Fabrics Galore is the shop I mentioned, let me know whenever you're ready ..)



  21. Good for you Jane you go girl! I too am shocked at the waste of food in the world. I think the main problem is the fact that we are encouraged to buy more food than we need in the first place. I tend to always shop with a list after deciding loosly on a 7 day menu. Hubby grew lost of veg in raised beds last summer which was a hit. I throw very little if any food at all away. Leftovers get frozen asap and usually come in handy for 1 off meals and feeding my toddler. My eldest Son came to stay over Chrismas on time off from Uni. He wend home with 4 home cooked frozen meals. That made me feel good and made some room in the freezer.

  22. Such an interesting post, I'm off to the library today and will look out for those books.

    As a woman of a certain age myself I firmly believe age is just a number, and as long as you're in reasonable health it should never be a barrier to doing the things you'd like............thankfully for me sky diving has never been too appealing!


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