My husband, patient soul, is not a big fan of documentaries. They’re often dull, they’re seldom short, and they’re typically liberal. (Why is it, for example, that the punchline of every documentary made since 1996, regardless of topic, boils down to “stop having babies, because we’re killing the planet!” Bah, humbug.)
Still, I enjoy them, especially the greenie documentaries about food, health, and how the automation and industrialization of our nutrition sources is, overall, a bad thing. Mankind has a duty, I believe, to shepherd and steward the fruits of creation, not only for himself but for the good of the whole (don’t cringe) ecosystem. After all, we live in it, so clearly it’s in our own best interests to take care of it. For me, this has always meant not wasting stuff, recycling within reason, having a little garden (or, in my grandparents’ cases, enormously huge gardens), and turning off the lights in empty rooms. Now, as an adult with a family, little has changed about my outlook, except a newfound and sudden realization that thriftiness is, unfortunately, not always compatible with healthiness, nor even conservation.
Americans, per capita, spend less of their annual income on food than any other nation in the world does. We might spend, say, $100 per month on cell phones, and $100 per month on cable, and $100 per month on eating out, and $50 per month on going to the movies, but all heck breaks loose if the grocery bill tops $200. Why?? The focus of a mother, especially, can and should be on how to provide the best things for her family, not the cheapest, yet we consistently make choices that say the opposite. I do it all the time. One of my favorite lunches is quick, easy, enjoyed by my toddler, and only costs $0.89! It’s a Totino’s Party Pizza! Yay! But it isn’t healthy. Why wouldn’t I choose to spend less money on cell phones and movies, and more on feeding my family? Because it’s easy to cut costs on food. Processed food is cheap, readily available, quick, easy, filling, familiar…the list goes on.
We tried this year to have a little backyard garden (foiled at every turn by the deer and the raccoons), and the single jalapeno pepper that survived the animal onslaught sat triumphantly on the counter for weeks before I actually used it. Next year, I know a little more and can plan a little better. We don’t have pets any more, so indoor herbs are safe. What else can I do? There’s a line, I know, between slavish Earth-worship and actual stewardship. What kind of things can I do to eat healthy, run an efficient home, but not put my support and/or money into a community sector that, likely, thinks the primary contribution I can make to conservation would be to use birth control like it’s a religion? I want to find a Catholic approach to living, care for my family without unnecessarily counting the pennies, and strike a balance between treating our earthly home well and realizing that, after all, it’s only here for us to use. What do you do to have a healthy, thrifty home?