Friday, January 21, 2011

One story leads to myriad learning

Shortly after I began freelancing in 1991, I searched my new Kentucky home for articles to write. Because of my interest in simple living and the environment, I was drawn to writing about Appalachia Science in the Public Interest. That’s where I met its founder, Jesuit Father Al Fritsch.

It was a fortuitous meeting because as I interviewed Fr. Al and others involved with his organization, I picked up so many things to use in my own life. I learned to “audit” my time to see if I was using it wisely. I visited communities of religious women who made marvelous use of their lands while also improving the energy efficiency of their buildings. (Keep in mind this was long before the current national trend toward such movements.) I visited the ASPI office, which at the time was in a cordwood house, and realized I could actually afford to build a house like that some day. I began to explore natural ways of gardening that didn’t require chemicals. One meeting led to so much learning!

I received a note from Fr. Al the other day. He’s also an author and I’m reading his most recent book, Water Sounds, a book about North American missionary and naturalist Jacques Marquette. Fr. Al also pointed me to some wonderful resources on his website. Besides listing his many published works, some of them are available for free on his site, including 365 Soups in 2009. He followed that with 365 Salads in 2010. This year it’s 365 ways to make breakfast with oatmeal. His motivation? He wants to show that it is possible to vary your diet on a low budget. It also allows him to try to live on $3/day (the average food stamp benefit for low-income people in the United States) and still have some left to support an orphan in India.

That encouraged me to think about my own food budget. I realized I do often eat on $3/day and purchase luxury items now and then. But I can do that because of the food I raise, the food preservation we do and because I cook from whole foods. Just to be sure I'm on target, I'm going to record everything I spend on food in February. That might lead me to learn more about my food budget that I'm remembering at the moment!

AS you can see, I continue to listen and learn.

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