The long term goal is to be as self sufficient as possible. However, I know myself well enough to admit that there are certain creature comforts I’m not going to give up, regardless of how at odds they are with my desired lifestyle. I spend so much time talking about what we are doing or what we plan to do on the farm, it’s only fair I admit to what we’ll probably never do.
Fruits and Veggies I can’t grow: I can’t help it, orange juice is my coffee. And a fruit smoothie isn’t the same without bananas. And my child loves pineapple. I will never grow any of these things in Virginia, but I’m not willing to give them up either. What I am willing to do is only eat strawberries in June (and raid my freezer and jam shelf the rest of the year), and likewise eat seasonally all the other fruits and veggies we can grow here.
Exotic food stuffs: Will is an insufferable human being if he hasn’t had a full pot of french roast by 10 AM. I’m a tea drinker myself. Will’s a vanilla guy and I’m all about chocolate. Add to this an assortment of nuts and spices and we’re back out of the realm of the locavore. Sure I can grow my own chamomile, and forage for black walnuts, but there is no way I’m roasting barley and pretending it tastes anything like coffee.
Baking soda and powder: Nothing at all natural about either, but they are just too convenient to give up. Sure, someday I’ll try and use natural yeast as a bread starter, but I won’t be adulterating my muffins, brownies or cookies any time soon.
The internet: I can’t quit you.
Skin care products: I use local bar soap and endeavor to make my own cleaning products out of vinegar (not that I made the vinegar, but baby steps), but I’m still a touch vain and after an adolescence riddled with pimples, you’ll have to pry my face wash from my cold dead hands.
Disposable diapers: When Alston was a baby, we used cloth diapers through a service, but once he started walking we’ve been all about the Seventh Generation disposables and wipes. And it really is so much easier. I’d like to think that I’ll go back to cloth when we someday have the next one, but now that we live too far away for the service, the prospect of using my own washer kinda grosses me out.
L.L. Bean and J. Crew: I hope to learn to knit, but I’m never going to make my own clothing. In fact, I’d jump for joy if I could even sew my own curtains, so it’s a safe bet I’ll never make a pair of shoes. We try to avoid buying things made in China, and go for made in the USA whenever possible (hurray for Carhartt, Etsy and American Apparel, not to mention All-Clad), but I don’t refuse to buy Alston a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon if I can’t tell where the book was printed (and I admit to my occasional lapse of will power, like my Hunter boots). Although I must say, avoiding Made in China is the best retail diet you can go on – it’s saved me hundreds of dollars of impulse shopping.
Wine, Beer and Booze: Virginia may be an up and coming wine region, but when it comes to wine we break our Buy American rule and head straight for France and Italy. It is our indulgence and as wine is what brought Will to food which is what brought us to farming, I can live with the hypocrisy, assuming my glass remains full of Bordeaux. As for beer, I’m sure we’ll home brew, but there are so many great microbreweries out there I can’t imagine us depending exclusively on our own stock. Booze, well, I just don’t see how life in the country would be possible without bourbon, or at least I don’t want to.
Paper convenience items: We always use cloth napkins and real plates and cups (even opting for rentals for parties instead of disposables). However, when it comes to items of hygiene, I’m not even willing to switch to handkerchiefs instead of Puffs with Lotion, so you won’t be surprised when I say using recycled toilet paper is the only concession I’m willing to make on that front. We have dialed down our use of paper towels, but I don’t know if we’ll ever eliminate them completely.
What about you, when thinking about going more green or being more self sufficient, are you sneaking a Snickers bar into BioSphere2?