Finding our slower stride


SIMPLE THINGS Freshly unearthed worms are suddenly infinitely interesting to curious little minds.

Green Living

McKinley Neal

I missed submitting my last column because it has been hard to adapt to all the new ways of running a food business in these times while also juggling childcare with my husband (who thankfully can work from home full-time).
I know previously I encouraged everyone to find something new to try during the lockdown, and to do their best to support our local food businesses if they can. And that is still the way I am trying to live, but it’s also clear that we are all doing our very best to meet the challenges as they come.
You might be baking a lot, but maybe you’ve preferred the cakes to the bread. I started ambitiously with two types of sourdough, and decided to continue baking the bread that requires the least consistency (if you can relate, I highly recommend German-style rye sourdough).
As for food shopping, we’ve experimented with all the veg possible, and now we are clear that if we have peas, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, and, of course, spuds, we can nourish everyone forever. Anything else is a harder sell, so we adults have learned to puree leafy greens to get them in; the nettle and kale soup was a total hit – the leaves lent a vibrant colour (look, magic green soup!) but it generally tasted like potatoes with zing.
Thankfully the obliging weather has brightened the mood. You might be one of the many people tearing open packets of seeds for the first time. Most of us are unlikely to replace much of our supermarket shop, but the sheer hope of new growth at times like these is enough to convince even the most reluctant of gardeners.
Digging in the soil is life-affirming, and also an activity that gives everyone some level of satisfaction. I’ve been preparing beds for planting, and I inevitably find worms that are subjected by the kids to all sorts of ‘love and care’ before being released to the soil again.
Maybe you’ve even taken the social isolation to try one of the eco-friendly personal-care alternatives I’ve mentioned previously – if you’re worried how your hair will turn out after the first go with the shampoo bar, you can give it a whirl now knowing not many people will notice! The smallest of changes when pursued with persistence will absolutely stick, and we have more time now to choose at least one switch and see it through.   
In short, hopefully after several weeks of lockdown, you’re beginning to hit your stride. Ideally the longing for the day-to-day normalcy of this time last year has eased, and you can find joy now, while still looking forward to a dinner out or coffee with friends at some future point.
We are all laser-focused on the things we took for granted before, like what to buy and cook for dinner, and how to make it through the day with as much consideration and kindness towards our loved ones as we can muster. Keep up the good work.

> McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.


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