The Daily: 17 January 2023

Does anyone else fall prey to the idea that there must be ketchup in the house? I was going through the fridge, emptying out things that were expired. There was a nearly full jar of store-bought ketchup that expired last August. Obviously, this is not a need in my life. But… well, I seem to remember throwing out ketchup before, even when I lived with carnivores who might have had some use for the stuff.

I hardly ever eat it, but I find myself putting it on a shopping list if there isn’t a jar on hand. Why? Especially now, when it is normally just me and occasionally Son#1 eating here. Neither of us eats meat. Neither of us eat fast food or fried foods. In fact, when it comes to it, I don’t even like the idea of ketchup. Seems all it’s good for is to create flavor where there isn’t much or to hide what is patently unpalatable — probably mostly that fatty after-taste in french fries. Which I also don’t eat. What do I need condiments for anyway?

As far as I can tell, I buy it solely because it’s supposed to be a pantry staple, something every well-stocked kitchen should include. Well, no longer. I’m done stocking the pantry according to some script I imbibed with mother’s milk. (More likely I learned it from my grandmother, but we’ll go with the metaphor…) There will be no ketchup in this house, no ketchup in the fridge to toss the next time I get around to looking at labels, no ketchup taking up space in my shopping budget and then in my waste budget. I shall not buy ketchup just because I am supposed to. My pantry will contain only that which I will eat — before there are problems with the “use by” date.

Do you have a ketchup? That thing you keep adding to a list of must-haves or must-dos even though if you stopped and considered it for ten seconds you’d quickly determine that “must” is a rather wide exaggeration — and is not set by your own needs at all. I wonder what would happen if we all just dropped all the ketchups. Forever.

After cleaning things out — and it really wasn’t that bad this year; I do much better at reducing the ketchups as a singleton — I made a couple promises to myself. I am ready to take the next step in reducing my footprint on the world. I’m making it a policy to not spend any money on Sundays and to limit what I do on Saturdays to only those things that are special — like music or theatre performances and the very rare trips down to see Son#2 in Brooklyn. From now on, weekends will be for resting, reading, and taking care of my own needs here in my own little home.

I have plenty to do, mind you. Shelves of reading back-log. The knitting and mending of things has been severely neglected. (I’ve had to sew a button back on this cardigan for over a month!) I need to practice the cello more. I want to do more yoga and take more walks. I want to write more poetry and stories. And there’s always something to do in the kitchen. Even more in the garden when spring rolls around. So I’ll not be bored. I will probably enjoy my time much more. And there may be naps! How amazing would that be!

I’m also considering the idea of fasting on Saturdays. I’m getting old, and I’ve always had a peasant metabolism (pretty sure my ancestors lived on air — with supplementary alcohol). I don’t need as many calories as I used to, and I suspect I never did need the “three square meals” our culture says we should be eating. (I can’t remember ever being truly hungry for lunch, unless I skipped breakfast.) Consciously denying that urge to eat on the day when I am in this house all day will keep me from munching just because I can — which is not a need and also, inevitably, ends up attached to my person in unsightly ways.

I’m not that into self-flagellation, and the idea of a fast has never appealed to me from an ethical, ritual, or body-image rationale. But I also think our bodies would be happier and healthier if we ate more like other large animals, including our own ancestors. Other creatures eat when they are hungry. They don’t eat when they are not hungry merely to follow some predetermined schedule. When they are active, they eat more. When resting or sick, they do not eat much at all. Many of our ancestors were the same. They ate thousands of calories a day in the seasons of heavy labor. They lived off of increasingly thin pottage in the winter months when most days were spent sitting quietly by the fire with small hand tasks — and long winter nights were spent in sleep.

I think our eating habits today are a melange of left-over notions from the early days of the Industrial Revolution — when our working ancestors needed a lot of food every day to keep their bodies going fourteen to eighteen hours a day — and the demands of capitalism, which wants us to buy as much of every last thing as it can force into existence. Hence we have ketchup in the vegetarian fridge… But in any case, I think taking one day a week to rest from food would let my body balance itself out. It will also reduce what I need to buy or produce for myself. And I can repurpose the time I would spend cooking, eating, and cleaning up afterwards towards… naps! (Ok, maybe there’s something else… but it’s cold and I’m old and napping seems like the prime directive right now…)

Plus, I can’t help but think that if more people just did less, we’d substantially reduce our enormous boot-print on the world. Imagine if everybody with the means resolved to stay home and rest one day a week, every week. Not only would that make everybody feel happier, healthier and much more sane, but that’s the equivalent of billions of dollars no longer being funneled into the market — every week. Talk about degrowth! At worst such a campaign would be great preparation for a future in which we all will probably be doing without a great many things, and not by choice.

So I’m going to give it a go. And no, I alone will have zero impact on impact reduction… but if it makes me happier, healthier and more sane… well, I think that’s reason enough.


Gratuitous Bread Photo

I roasted the last stored pumpkin, a slightly flattened, pinkish-grey moschata that I don’t remember growing, but that, given the squirrel marks, probably did not come from a farm stand. It was about 10″ in diameter and had very thick flesh. Only a tiny seed cavity. It yielded over 8 cups of roasted pumpkin pulp! So I got a thick bowl of stew last week, and this week I baked four loaves of straight-up, no-frills pumpkin bread.

My neighbor texted me to say that the smell was making everybody hungry.

Of course, I took a loaf over when it was done.

Bread from the last pumpkin

©Elizabeth Anker 2023

5 thoughts on “The Daily: 17 January 2023”

  1. No ketchup here, either, at least for the last couple of decades. My mom and I tend to avoid buying anything that has more than one ingredient as well as conventionally raised foods (Mom gets very sick from any trace of glysophate and probably other chemicals, so we grow (or buy) no spray and organic.

    I love the idea of a fast day, but have trouble with actually doing it. We fast 14-16 hours each day, though, and drive as little as possible. For years we didn’t have a car and made do with walking and occasionally riding the bus, but then my paternal grandparents died and left me their car, so now I pass as a typical American, I guess.

    It makes me happy to shop as little as possible and waste as little as possible, and I think the idea of a day of rest for everyone is sensible– something a bit like Shabbat, with rest and restoration, thinking about life, and being present with those we love with joy and connection and comfort instead of being forever busy and “accomplishing” goals.

    I love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for that last! And yes, Shabbat is exactly what I was thinking. Though without as much stress if there is work that needs to be done. On the glysophate, I am actually sending off a post that sort of relates… for tomorrow. I’m calling it “armchair immunology”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We stopped buying ketchup when we started eliminating plastic packaging and our co-op didn’t sell it in a glass bottle. We do buy mustard from time to time though, it’s great on sandwiches and is useful for making our own salad dressing.

    Good luck with your fasting!

    The bread looks divine! Do you know what kind of pumpkin it was? It sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Near as I can tell it was a rouge vif d’etamps. That was the only thing shaped like that in my garden. It was definitely the wrong color though, so there’s more than that variety in it.

      I make my own mustard from Penzey’s seed. Or sometimes I let the mustard greens run to seed. Carefully. Usually with newspaper or something spread underneath them. Or they run riot… Maple / brown mustard with white balsamic vinegar, fleur de sel, and a bit of thyme is just about the loveliest salad dressing I know, especially with fresh tomatoes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMGoodness naked bread! No fair neighbor I’m too far away! I loved reading this your newest and best all time post! Ketchup Lmaooo 

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Liked by 1 person

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