Veggie boxes and changing habits


It’s been a crazy few months around here. Amongst other things I caught pneumonia and then ran away to Iceland on no sleep. In that order.

Because I live alone quite a few people were concerned when I was ill about my welfare- I was offered a hospital admission (twice) but declined (I prefer to die at home wearing my own socks). My boss called me one night and offered to drop off groceries- I declined because I always have a fully stocked freezer and pantry with ingredients for tasty meals (neurosurgery registrar survival skills 101), plus I was due for a fresh drop of veggies from my delivery service. He offered to drop off milk, to which I replied, “I don’t drink cows milk, I make my own milk from almonds”. Unfazed, he then offered to drop off a bag of almonds. I am truly a weirdo.

Since moving to melbourne- the equivalent to a fresh food wasteland- I’ve had to change my expectations slightly. I no longer have access to weekly and affordable fresh produce markets, and now receive the bulk of my fresh produce via a local organic veggie box delivery scheme- Ceres Fair Food. They can either deliver to your home, or to a designated drop off point (a volunteer’s front porch). I’ve been mainly picking up a box from someone’s home on the walk home from work, or on the way to dance class, which makes things pretty flexible, and you don’t have to wait at home for a delivery to turn up. I top up with tasty things at the local grocer during the week, and go to the farmers market once a month mainly for eggs

Pros

  • No lock in contracts or subscriptions– you can opt to order a box week to week as you see fit, or set up a regular order. This has been great because if I know I’m going to be away from home I won’t order another box, forcing myself to finish up the contents of the previous box first
  • Forces creativity– sometimes you get some sort of strange fruit or vegetable that you’ve never seen before, and you have to eat it #becausepride. A month ago I received something that looked like a zucchini, but wasn’t a zucchini. I convinced myself it was an exotic Chinese winter melon, and agonised over traditional Chinese herbal soup recipes deciding how best to cook it. 1.5 weeks of indecisiveness later, I cut into it- turns out it was just a smooth skinned cucumber. Fail. I really wanted winter melon soup for some reason!
  • Pretty cheap– I usually order the small fruit and veg box for $40+ any extras that take my fancy. Averages $55 per 2-3 weeks for one person, which gets stretched with bulk grains/ staples- which cost almost nothing. This means more money for that BeyoncΓ© dance course you’ve been eyeing off πŸ™‚
  • Forces you to eat your veggies– my rule is that I have to eat my fridge empty before I order another box. It also gets me meal prepping and planning more to incorporate the veggies, which means overall I eat pretty healthy without having to try very hard
  • It’s fun– there really is something about taking home a cardboard box and opening it and getting really excited to find snow peas. A good reason as any to high five yourself.
  • The company is Eco conscious– you can leave your empty box from a previous order behind to be reused. The veggies mostly come loose, smaller items like mushrooms come in brown paper bags 
  • Supports a local grass roots business with ideals that match your own. Plus it’s an effective way to stick it to the supermarket duopoly by getting your Kiwi fruit grown by a local dude named Fred
  • Their headquarters and farm are 15 mins away from me. They have an impressive bulk store on site- like I said- live your values and align yourselves with businesses who think just like you do. Vote with your dollars for the kind of world you want your kids to grow up in.
  • Makes life a little bit better– yes you can work 14 hour days, on 4 hours’ sleep, and know that you have a box of fresh, local and organic produce waiting for you at the end of the work day

Cons

  • Too many white potatoes– really- I have a cupboard full of them. About four months’ worth. That’s a lot of potatoes for someone who doesn’t really eat them at home. I’ve taken to bringing a roast potato with me to work everyday and I pat it like a pet. As if people at work don’t already think I’m weird enough as it is… 

If you would like some potatoes let me know πŸ™„

Drowning in potatoes,

Lisa xx

Practicing mindfulness


Long time no post!

It’s been a busy few months here. Work consumes most of my waking hours- and sometimes most of my sleeping hours too!

A recent, rather natural habit shift for me has been to be more mindful of everything- and I can definitely say that going zero waste has taught me so much in that regard.

Nowadays I am mindful of what I put in my body, what I put my body through, the words that come from my mouth, the thoughts that come into my mind. I am practicing joy, gratefulness and “ahimsa”. I am practicing kindness- to myself, to others, to the earth we inhabit.

A colleague paid me the nicest compliment the other day- he said, “when Lisa walks into the room she makes everyone happy.” πŸ™‚

Even though my life is a cyclone of chaos right now, I am still trying to stay very grounded, and to find joy in the tiniest things- like finding a box of cleaned glass jars that someone had put out to share with others, as opposed to putting them straight in the recycling bin. A small act of kindness to others and to the environment.

How to practice daily gratitude (3 easy steps). Every day:

  1. Say thank you to yourself
  2. Say thank you to someone else– be it a stranger, lover, friend, work mate, family member. We don’t thank each other enough for being in each others’ worlds
  3. Say thank you to the earth. It sustains us and brings life. Cherish it.

A million thank yous.

Lisa x

Habit shifts: clothes shopping

  
(Racks filled with vintage goodies at my favourite thrift store)
There’s no beating around the bush on this issue- I’ve been dubbed a fashionista for as long as I can remember, toddler diva days included:

  
(It’s all about the accent details)

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up to spend on clothes, so the clothes that were purchased were well- considered and had to be deemed “classic” by my mum, and things that I’d fall in love with at the shops my mum would try and replicate on our faithful old sewing machine at home. My formal/ prom dress was home made, my calisthenics leotards came from an op shop, a lot of dresses were thrifted or were hand me downs from relatives.

I then spent my university years in a mishmash wardrobe made up of thrift shop finds, discount Dotti purchases, and clothes from the kids section (I was pretty tiny then!), and clothes I’d alter myself with you know… A stapler. People would stop me in the street and ask me where my outfit was from (“the kids section in the Whyalla Target”).

Then I got a proper paid job and things got real- I was stressed most of the time and turned to shopping as my form of escapism. This manifested itself in a bursting wardrobe filled with things that were beautiful but didn’t sit well or suit me, mainly because I was chasing this ideal of being well dressed, but just ended up looking like a clothes horse. I call these years “broke but fabulous”. There was an expensive designer bag purchased for each major stressful life event (hello, exams and job interviews!), and many beautiful shoes and clothes to be had (I once flew to Hong Kong for 5 days with an empty suitcase during their sale season just to shop during my week off while on night shifts).

I then started moving around the country for work, and gradually started to feel more and more burdened with *stuff*, mainly all the clothes and accessories I had accumulated over the years that sat in boxes packed up most of the time. My lifestyle was not of the carefree fashionista blogger, it was one of long on call shifts and dirty scrubs. I didn’t even have time to unpack and sort out all these clothes, let alone wear them out and create fabulous outfits. 

When I started going zero waste last year I really set to work with downsizing my wardrobe. Things got donated and sent to consignment stores, I sold things at a market and even held a garage (yard) sale at home. I gave things away to friends and family. I then went on a self imposed “fashion diet”, prescribed myself a capsule wardrobe and waited it out. I wore the same chambray shirt/ striped t shirt/ black jeans/ grey v neck a million times, and it didn’t kill me. It helped me develop my style and also further weed out things that no longer suited me. I then created a “wish list” of things I would like to have, and instead of going out shopping or browsing the Internet to get them straightaway, I’d keep a casual eye on eBay to buy the item second hand. Buying second hand also didn’t kill me πŸ˜€

With increasing confidence this year I started venturing more and more into shopping second hand at thrift shops, as I now had a more defined sense of style.

It also makes environmental sense- most pieces of clothing are still in circulation, so instead of creating more demand for a “must have” item we should look around and see what is already in existence before asking for another new piece to be made from raw materials. The converse is also true- if you have a wardrobe full of things you no longer love and don’t fit you, set them free so that someone else can look after them and shower them with the attention they deserve πŸ™‚

How to shop second- hand and not look like a bag lady (unless that is your signature look πŸ˜‰):

  1. Try eBay. Dipping your toe into eBay is a great way to start. You can browse at your leisure and not contend with crowded hot musty smelling stores. I mainly use this for “targeted” shopping- I have a wish list of things I’d like to add to my wardrobe, I’ll know the brand and size I’m looking for and will set up a “search alert” feature on eBay- so items will pop up and if the price is right I’ll consider getting them. I’ve bought things like second hand Charlotte Olympia kitty flats this way :  
  2. Know what brands, styles, colours and materials work best for you. This helps you tackle the sometimes daunting task of trying to sift through a packed store to find gems. I found my new never worn hot pink silk Equipment shirt this way- I could pick the silk out of a mound of polyester. It also cost $12.70   
  3. Keep an open mind. You actually often find things when you least expect it, so keep looking and go thrifting often but don’t get discouraged if you leave empty handed. That unique piece is still out there, trying to make its way to you  ^__^
  4. Only buy what you truly love or need. This applies to shopping new or second hand. Just because it’s super discounted or you found it for 50 cents in a bin, doesn’t mean you should automatically bring it home just because it was cheap- it should add value to your wardrobe, not be a dead weight. Mindless spending is what gets us into trouble in the first place, and we’re working on breaking that cycle, not perpetuate it
  5. Embrace it. A few years ago I’d turn my nose up at hand me downs or something I’d picked up at a market somewhere. Nowadays I love being gifted a hand me down from a friend, and love being able to create outfits out of beautiful one-off pieces. 
  6. See the potential in a piece. I’ve learnt to be a lot more creative and my eye has become better trained to seek the potential in thrifted pieces. I recently bought a vintage Japanese kimono not for the usual purpose of displaying it or wearing it around the house, but to wear as an elegant “going out” cover up coat over a dress. I know how to hem, I’ve cut off buttons and 80’s shoulder pads and “frou frou” pieces of ribbon to modernise pieces to fit my wardrobe. You can always enlist a tailor to help you. Don’t limit yourself to just brand names either (although they tend to be good investment pieces).

Do you still buy things new?

Yes, I still do- it’s still a weaning process for me unfortunately. However nowadays I am much more mindful of things that I do buy, and when I do buy new it has to fit absolutely perfectly and I must love it or else it goes back on the rack. I no longer buy for the sake of buying something. Things like pants are something I still need as I find it difficult enough as it is to find things that fit me right (flat-bottomed tall girls unite!)

What’s the next big challenge?

I’m engaged, which means there will be a wedding of some description on the horizon. I’ve spent the last few months perusing eBay and stillwhite.com.au for the right dress and I’m probably 80% of the way there. So far I have a veil, purse (both second hand) and wedding shoes (6 years old). I may still commit to a new dress if I don’t find one that I love that will fit me right, but fingers crossed!

  

Zero Waste- 1 year on…

  
I don’t remember the exact date of when I officially went “zero waste”, but it would have been about March- April 2015. A lot of things have happened in the time, with a lot of frustrations along the way. I’m happy to say that I’ve come to that point where I’m content with how things are, and that living with minimal waste has become much easier- mainly because things are on auto pilot nowadays!

I am happy to put behind me those days of sweaty, frantic searching for elusive bulk-stores, and the even more elusive delicatessen who would provide me with plastic free cheese. Finding new places to buy things in bulk is still a triumph and I still get a thrill from it, but it certainly no longer fills my head space as much as it used to. I obsess about it a lot less because it’s become more of a way of life for me. I don’t post on Instagram as much as I used to, mainly because the every day nitty gritty now “just happens”, and no longer requires a proclamation of victory to social media πŸ˜‰ 

Now- here is my 12-months ago former self interviewing my current self:

1. What were the hardest things about going zero waste initially?

– For me, it was really laying down the ground work so that I could one day live that life without thinking too hard about it. Originally I used to spend a lot of time researching possible “leads” and driving to these places to set up my own network of places that I could grocery shop at. Finding a deli that would give me cheese in my own container; a butcher who tares my container with finesse; a bulk store that sells body care products; loose eggs/ vendors who would accept old egg cartons back; a fish monger who wasn’t rude about it; a “local” bulk store for everyday items and top ups; a “specialty” bulk store that was further away with harder to find items to stock up with on a 1-2 monthly basis. However once these places were established and tried and tested, things became infinitely easier as the flow had been established in our lives 

2. How did your friends/ family react?

Everyone I knew took it surprisingly well. It ranged from people misinterpreting me bringing my own containers and straws to family dinners as “super organised”, to friends being inspired enough to try and implement some measures in their own lives to reduce their own waste. My partner was on board from the beginning and was very supportive, although sometimes he would just ask “can’t we just get this now in plastic as opposed to driving across town next week to get it unpackaged?” The main effect from me going zero waste was that it started that conversation, it inspired people around me to re assess the amount of daily waste they generated, and if that meant even just one less coffee cup or plastic bag- so be it! I never broadcasted it or pushed my agenda onto people. Some times if I was with people I didn’t know very well I would shy away from producing my own straw at restaurants and would stick to drinking tap water (which is much better for you and the environment anyway!)

3. You must have changed so many habits over the last year- which is your favourite?

I’ve always been a bit of a fashionista and impulse- shopper, and trying to reduce my waste has forced me to be more mindful towards everything that I consume, this includes fashion. I reduced my wardrobe (still a work in progress!), and really re-assessed my own personal style. I started buying more second hand clothes (both from thrift shops and eBay), and have really enjoyed the process. I get complimented a lot on things that I’m wearing, and people are always so surprised when I say that I found them in a second hand store! Everything I buy now is bought with longevity in mind- good quality clothes made of natural fibres in classic styles that won’t date, that have to fit perfectly otherwise I won’t buy it. A friend asked me today if I ever intended to get rid of or sell any of the handbags I have currently- I replied that I plan to keep them for the rest of my life πŸ™‚ I dress better now than I did 5 years ago when I would try out every new season colour and trend, I know my own personal style and what works for my body. When I get the “itch” to shop nowadays I just shop my closet- meaning I’ll have a look in there first and see what new outfits I can create.

4. What did you not expect to happen by going zero waste?

The weight loss- in all honesty I’ve lost about 15-17 kg so far (don’t plan on losing any more!)- and this has arisen from eating more whole foods, less packaged junk, making things from scratch and being able to control what goes in them. Because a lot more effort goes into buying meat, fish and cheese unpackaged, I ended up eating a lot more vegetables (out of sheer laziness). Frequenting farmers markets would connect me with the growers and the food, and I would get excited about the prospect of making meals at home, and planning our meals in advance- avoiding the inevitable work week takeaway run!

5. Favourite item to buy in bulk/ unpackaged?

Tofu! From an Asian grocery store- too much fun πŸ™‚ That, and finding a place that refills essential oils.

6. Any tips for the newbies?

Don’t be put off or discouraged. You don’t need to live in an austere white sanctuary with perfectly matching mason jars filled with grains. You don’t need to be perfect- if it’s one less plastic bag or disposable coffee cup- that’s great! It’s a start. Entry level things to try:

  • Get a reuseable drink bottle (stainless steel is great) keep it filled and in the fridge, grab it when you head out. Rinse and repeat. And no- you don’t have to have a beautiful Klean Kanteen or S’well bottle- any old thing will do. My first bottle came from a camping store!
  • Bring a reuseable shopping tote no matter where you go- I always try to have one rolled up in my handbag, as I never know when I may need it. And using reuseable shopping bags isn’t just confined to grocery shopping- I routinely bring my tote to stores (even when buying new stuff), and have never received a negative comment about it
  • If you’re a coffee drinker- either make a ritual out of it and take the time to sit down in a cafe, otherwise bring a reusable coffee cup. I prefer Keep Cups, because they’re light and transport well, easy to drink from, and come in barista standard sizes which makes their job slightly easier. They’re also an Australian company, so I’m biased πŸ˜‰ Others have had some luck with bringing a standard mason jar with them, some have even knitted a cosy to keep their hands from burning!
  • Find a composting solution- I didn’t realise that my council provided fort nightly green waste pick up until I enquired about it. Others have a compost bin or pile in the back yard, a worm bin, or bokashi system (which I’m using currently). Another option is that some local farmers markets and community gardens accept organic waste scraps- I freeze my scraps and make a trip once every 2-3 weeks
  • Consider the product life cycle. Every time I purchase something I think- how long will it last for? What will i do with the scraps (if it’s food). How will I dispose of the product at the end of it’s cycle? Do I really need it? Can I buy it second hand, or borrow it? Is the packaging easily recyclable?
  • Research some bulk stores in your area- the Bulk App has been a life saver for everyone. I don’t think bulk stores are an essential but it does make things a lot nicer if you have access to a couple
  • Buy fruit and veggies unpackaged, and divorce the big chain supermarkets. Options include farmers markets, organic veggie box deliveries, local grocers. Bring some reuseable produce bags (make or buy some), or you can reuse plastic bags that you already have, netting from onion bags, paper mushroom bags etc. Most fruit and veg don’t need to be corralled in a bag anyway. Use your hands even πŸ˜„
  • Make something from scratch– there are so many fun recipes to try when you go zero waste! Try making toothpaste, hummus, bread, jam, nut milk, anything- with unpackaged ingredients. There will be failures, but that’s part of the fun. Plus you can then use the hash tag #zerowastefail
  • Try something that weirds you out. For some people this can include reuseable menstrual products, washable toilet paper or bidet, using handkerchiefs. You’ll be surprised at what ends up sticking as a habit!
  • Set goals for yourself- I used to keep a list on my phone of zero waste – related things I’d like to do. Things like “make produce bags”, “buy some bigger jars”, “get kombucha SCOBY”, “make beeswax wraps”- kept things interested and goal- oriented 
  • Look to reducing your waste in other areas. I started showering over a bucket and using that water to flush the toilet to conserve water. We looked into getting a solar power panel. My main mode of transport is my legs (walking!) and the tram on occasion. Reduce food wastage by not buying more than you need and ensuring everything gets gobbled up before buying more. Say no to freebies. Reduce how much you recycle by reducing the use of packaging in the first place.

7. What has the zero waste lifestyle taught you?

It has taught me to be more mindful, and also to be more thankful- everyday I wake up and am eternally grateful that I have access to fresh food and water, and that it is the earth we live on that provides life’s necessities. I am no longer a mindless consumer hypnotised by the big companies- I can say no and make better, more ethical choices. I am less selfish- I now view myself as a citizen of the world and that i must do my part to protect the world that we live in.

8. What is your next zero waste goal?

My next goal is taking this juggernaut past the pretty pictures on Instagram and taking it to the streets- namely, being a more active zero waste advocate. I write emails to companies and councils about ideas I have to improve their waste management strategies- for example I am currently trying to implement a pen recycling station at my hospital in conjunction with Terracycle, with the next step being to involve Officeworks (a big stationary retailer in Australia) to add pen recycling as an option, alongside taking back batteries and spent printer cartridges. Wish me luck!
Lisa x

Fight the good fight: Why you need to stop shopping at supermarkets

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Β  Sundays are definitely my favourite day of the week. Saturdays are for running errands and getting sweaty. Sundays are for slowing down and tasty food (for me anyway!). If I’m on call on the weekend I would usually start my ward rounds at the crack of dawn on Saturdays (hello, 6-6:30am starts!), but Sundays were always for a slightly slower morning (to the relief of my residents)- a 7:30am ward round start-time is a luxury- and we’d always make time for a coffee and a sanity-saving chat. But I digress.

Β  My favourite Sunday routine is to have nothing exciting planned. I still wake up early (6-7am), and always try to hit up the farmer’s market at a reasonable time. Friday/ Saturday is when we plan our meals for the week, so I try to get the majority of our fresh produce at the market (it’s cheaper and lasts ages), with a top-up shop as needed later in the week. I’m usually at a barre class before the market, but now that it’s getting hotter Down Under I’m trying to get to the market at opening time while it’s cooler, and off to barre class straight after.

Β  I usually bring my straw basket and a large square tote if I’m on my own. I’ll drag along my partner if we have a bigger shop and need the “granny trolley” as well :). I also always have a selection of cloth bags to put more fragile produce in, and usually bring rubber bands and egg carton trays back to the stall holder to re-use. We used to also bring a couple of glass Pyrex containers for tasty fried Indian snacks for our market breakfast but have stopped doing that now in our efforts to consistently eat better.

Β  The farmers market I go to almost every week is by far my favourite: Farm Direct Markets S.A (Lightsview). I love the ethos behind it (created to help smaller farmers/ producers stay on the land, who otherwise would not have much of an income as the bigger chain supermarkets will usually pass them over), the people who run it and the sense of community it has created. I love that it’s smaller and less “pushy” and pretentious compared with the other markets in Adelaide, and I actually feel relaxed while shopping there. The stall holders know me now and always ask where “hubby” is if he’s not there. I especially love that the chain of markets have opened up in the more socially disadvantaged areas of Adelaide- to be able to provide all people an opportunity to eat fresh, cheap local produce can only be a good thing, not just for now but for the generations to come. For too long the big supermarkets have dictated that it is only the “rich” who can afford to eat fresh healthy produce, and many people ask me, “isn’t eating healthy just for wealthy people?” I dare say it’s not, but when the big supermarkets jack up the prices on cold-stored produce that lasts 2 days in the fridge, and continually slash prices on Coke and chips, and you only have a limited food budget for the week- it comes as no surprise that being reliant on nutritionally- poor food is a reality for most people.

Β  Our average weekly fresh produce shop at the market usually costs us about $25- give or take a few dollars. $10 on top of that every fortnight for a tray of free-range eggs. This is for 2 adults and 1 hungry rabbit. This makes up the bulk of 3 main meals a day and snacks in the fridge, as well as fresh fruit. This leaves us plenty of money for top up things like bulk grains and nuts, meat and fish for the week (and any top up fresh produce) and stay within budget. The healthier we have chosen to eat, the less we are actually spending on food during the week- we’re eating more seasonally, eating less grains, we’re not spending money on junk food.

Β  It’s also fun to eat seasonally- as opposed to expecting that all fruits and veggies are available all year round, you get used to looking forward to and celebrating produce as it comes in season.Β I have sadly said goodbye to oranges and mandarins now, but today welcomed my first bite of a yellow nectarine, and could not stop sniffing new season garlic fresh from the Riverland- still encrusted with dirt πŸ™‚ I’m a firm believer in finding joy in the simple things, and re-discovering Farmers Markets have reinforced that.

Why you need to break up with supermarkets (i.e. the DUOPOLY/ “Colworths”)

  1. Produce is fresher at the markets, you can often buy direct from the producer, and it’s in season. Yes, sometimes the food looks imperfect and not as shiny- but that’s what food looks like out of the ground. At supermarkets they continually reject perfectly good produce based on looks alone- which means a lot of food goes to waste, or that smaller farms aren’t able to meet the “attractive quota” of vegetables- there are stories of small farmers running their produce into the ground because they are not good enough. This needs to end. Also sometimes the “fresh” fruit and veg sit around in cold storage for months on end- so you are paying for the storage of your produce- Why not buy direct from the farmer and store it in your own fridge for cheaper?
  2. Shopping at farmer’s markets puts the money in the right pockets- the farmers. The supermarkets are renowned for starting pricing wars with each other, and in the end it is the farmers who are bearing the brunt of the advertised low prices. When you look at some cases- the farmers are almost being blackmailed into giving their produce away for free to the supermarkets, under the fear that if they say no to unreasonable demands- their contracts will be dropped. For example- Woolworths have a campaign with Jamie Oliver. Where did the “extra” money come from to fly the big guy over for some token media appearances and print his face on sauce bottles? The already struggling Aussie farmers- They were “told” to make a “voluntary contribution” for each pallet of produce (under threat of being dropped)- what choice did they have? They paid for it. Jamie Oliver turned up and waved asparagus in our faces. Woolworths became richer.
  3. It makes environmental sense. Eating local produce that hasn’t been cold stored means that you don’t have the issue of food being shipped halfway around the world just so you can eat grapes in the dead of winter. The majority of produce at farmers markets are unpackaged, and if you bring your own produce bags- it’s a win- win.
  4. It connects you with the food that you put in your body. Buying at the market means you can see, touch, smell your food. You can talk to the person who grew your food. You start to celebrate fresh fruit and veg for what they are, you start getting inspired to try things you’ve never had before- because it just looks so good. I don’t think you can develop that relationship with food by buying packaged produce at the supermarket- when it’s wrapped in layers of plastic and styrofoam and curiously doesn’t *smell* like anything- alarm bells go off. Sure it’s clean and sterile, but you know- you could always just *wash* your veggies!
  5. Teach your children about fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a disturbing trend nowadays that a lot of children don’t know where food comes from, that someone has grown it so they could eat it and grow up healthy and strong. Taking them to the markets will hopefully lead to them begging you for a peach or watermelon, as opposed to nagging you at the check out for a chocolate bar filled with sugar and chemicals. Exposing them to the purchase and preparation of fresh produce will hold them in good stead for life. And with the alarming statistics on childhood and adult obesity nowadays- I challenge you to pick a hole in this argument.
  6. You will be healthier. Eating seasonally means you get the maximal nutrients and minerals that your body thrives on. As above, being exposed to fresh food all the time will inspire you to eat better. I never leave the farmers market wanting to go out and eat hot chips, mainly because my mind is obsessed with the idea of how best to prepare the two eggplants I just bought.
  7. Vote with your dollars– every time you spend money you are voting for the kind of world you and your children want to live in. Giving the big corporation supermarkets all of your money every week is saying: “I want fresh produce to be more expensive, less fresh and seasonal, less variety, less accessible for everyone”; “I want the Australian fresh food industry to collapse as farming becomes less financially sustainable, thus converting a previously self-sustaining country into one that is reliant on imported produce to feed itself, thus opening itself to severe food shortages in international trading were to cease”. If you want your children to grow up in a country with decreasing food security then by all means- keep buying the majority of your food from the supermarket. My number one choice is farmers markets, and if I’m unable to get there for whatever reason I choose to shop at my local greengrocers- who will run round the back to grab some carrot tops for the rabbit, or ply me with tasty snacks and free coffee. Really- I have no reason to shop elsewhere.
  8. Bring back the sense of community. As time goes on, we are all becoming more detached from each other, from our food, and from our environment. Waking up early on a Sunday morning, and braving the elements touching food with dirt still on it- It grounds and connects you. Seeing the same familiar friendly faces each week and having nice chats with strangers- bliss. Having that sense that you are a part of something bigger than just yourself- that you are supporting the Australian farming industry, that all the people here are working together on the same cause- keeping fresh local produce in our lives- it’s a feeling that can’t be beat. If you can find that feeling vacuum sealed in styrofoam at your supermarket then hats off to you πŸ˜‰

There are probably a hundred more reasons to ditch the supermarkets but this is all I can come up with at the moment with my tired brain πŸ™‚ As a side note, when I *do* shop at a supermarket I shop at IGA/ Foodland- there is more of an emphasis on local produce and they are geared towards competing with “The Big 2”- Can’t say fairer than that.

p.s. When I refer to a duopoly or “The Big 2” I refer to the fact that the Australian fresh food industry is dominated by 2 major chain supermarkets- Coles and Woolworths. They probably have at least 80% of the market, and it is amazing how this has been allowed to happen. The effect of this is they can dictate prices, they have price wars with each other, and are renowned for shortchanging fruit and veg growers and dairy farmers. Just. Say. No.

p.p.s. If you live in Adelaide- please check out Farm Direct Markets S.A. and support them. Little markets with a lot of heart and soul and the best of intentions. They run from 8am- 1pm on Wednesdays (Old Spot Hotel 1955 Main North Road, Salisbury), Saturdays (Old Spot Hotel), Sundays (Lightsview (Corner Folland Ave and Cityview Boulevard, Northgate); and Gawler (485 Main North Road Evanston)), with plans to expand to new sites as council approvals progress. If you don’t live in Adelaide and don’t currently shop at a farmers market- look one up, show up, and support!

Keep fighting the good fight,

Lisa xx

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Zero Waste Etiquette

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There are a few unwritten etiquette rules that I feel *should* be written down- In the hopes that it would makeΒ this lifestyle a bit easier to navigate.

  1. Be respectful of bulk bins

Every time I found a new bulk place I danced with joy- spying a couple of open sacks of grain or a couple of big tubs at the back of a random store really made my day. What doesn’t make my day is seeing the way some people behave around bulk bins. I’ve seen bin lids left open/ left off and scoops not replaced properly or wiped as per the store’s policy. My pet peeve- watching people use the bulk bins as their free-for-all snack trough. I’m sure you’ve seen this- Adults reaching in to bulk bins to pull out handfuls of lollies and nuts without even using the provided scoops. Adults encouraging their young children to reach in and grope around the mixed lolly bulk bin with their hands and put them directly into their mouths. One woman putting her handbag on an open sack of mung beans so she could tie her shoelaces- really?! The main gripe that non-zero waste people have with bulk bins are that they are dirty- and I totally understand. After seeing this behaviour in action myself I do sometimes get squeamish with bulk bins- thank goodness I have an iron stomach and have no dietary intolerances. I’m the one you see wandering around Goodies and Grains tut-tutting and closing all the bulk bins that have been left open.

I am however rather non-confrontational in public spaces, so as yet have not worked up the courage to call someone out Β on their bad behaviour around my beloved bulk bins. I get upset because this is where my food comes from- it’s not a store prop or novelty for me. Bulk places are scarce enough, to have people dirty your restricted food sources does hurt my feelings. It’s like as if I wandered into someone’s bomb shelter, opened their cans of baked beans and stuck my hands inside all the cans and swirled them around. And tasted some. Ok, not as dramatic, but similar nonetheless.

The other reason to be respectful and tidy is that it means you respect the businesses that support bulk bins- It is extra work for them, and they have to do more cleaning to ensure they maintain hygiene standards. If people are sloppy, make messes, contaminate entire bins, they may be less inclined to maintain their bulk shopping system. And it doesn’t just affect zero-wasters, it affects everyone as whole. We want to be creating more and more opportunities for bulk shopping for “newbies”, not make it less accessible/ off-putting due to contamination concerns

2. Keep your containers clean

A local business once told me that the reason they stopped accepting people’s own containers were because people were handing over *dirty* containers- think containers with no lids for wet goods, unclean containers with all manner of stuff stuck on them. Due to health and safety concerns (risk of contamination of their food prep sites) they were forced to implement a rule that they could not accept containers anymore, which is really disappointing. Again- bringing clean containers to a business is a mark of respect for them.Β I make sure my containers are clean with secure lids, and I carry my KeepCup in a home made bento bag to keep dust and fluff out of it. It’s about supporting the businesses who support us πŸ™‚

3. Wear lipstick

You can take this one with a grain of salt. If I know that I’m going to approach a cheese or deli counter, or a new butcher/ fishmonger peddling my containers, I do make sure that I look a bit put together- I leave my glasses off, I leave the RBF (Resting Bitch Face) at home, and I put some lippy on and smile- I’ve realised that the times when I showed up sweaty with messy hair and smelling like Hulk Hogan’s gym sock- 9 times out of 10 I was knocked back. Is it sexist? Maybe- not to me. It’s like turning up to an important job interview- you wouldn’t turn up looking unkempt and scattered, would you? Exude success! It’s like how Bea Johnson would have her way of acting super casual at cheese counters, waving at items, like she’s done this forever and it’s the norm- it does work! Once you start mumbling and fumbling it’s pretty much game over. If you say loud and clear: “Can you put this container on the scale and either tare or zero it, and weigh me out 500g of mince with no plastic bag please”, you’ll have more success I’ve found. But it does take practice.

4. Accept gracious defeat

Sometimes, despite your best winning smile and interpretative “how to zero containers” dance, they will say no. Be polite and thank them for their trouble. If it’s too late and they’ve already gotten confused and put my items in a plastic bag I’ll take it rather than risk it being thrown out (and wash and recycle the plastic bag at home). Your options are to slink home and never ever try again, or work up the courage to sidle in again on a different day (I’m looking at you, Frewville Foodland!

5. Praise, support, promote

I feel strongly about this. When I shop at businesses that support and share my values, I make it known to them. I always thank them for letting me use my containers, because I know it is more effort for them to tare and subtract weights. I support them by holding out or going without an item until I can get back in to shop with them, rather than go 5 minutes down the road to pick something up at the supermarket. I tell anyone who will listen about them, I blog and Instagram about them.

Now get out there and zero-waste like the gracious Southern Belle you are πŸ˜‰

Lisa xx

Let’s Go Shopping! Part 2

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Still staying in the vicinity of the Adelaide Central Market (a treasure trove, albeit sometimes stressful during the market’s busy hours), there are a few other places to peruse.

THE HONEY SHOPPE AND SOAPBOX

Shop 20, Central Market Arcade, Adelaide 5000

A hidden gem: a natural and unpackaged beauty and personal care mecca

What you can find: Row upon row of beautiful unpackaged vegetable and olive oil based soaps in all their glory- bring a reuseable bag/ container for your goodies, bring your best sniffing nose to smell all the luscious smells πŸ˜‰ . An amazing array of bulk soaps, conditioners, hand wash, body wash, dishwashing and laundry detergents- you name it, they’ve got it- I’m pretty sure I spied borax and washing soda in bulk the last time I was there (an upcoming project is home made dishwashing tablets- stay tuned!) Interesting things that I thought would be difficult to find in bulk: beeswax, clays, shea and cocoa butter. Honey (of course), bulk teas and herbs, and the piece de resistance: every essential oil known to man (both pre packed and in bulk). They’re happy to refill essential oils if you bring your own bottle and know the volume (they also sell a great array of amber glass bottles in lots of different sizes behind the counter). This place isn’t self-serve though, so flag down one of the guys to give you a hand before you get too bulk- happy.

Pros:Β 

  • Central location
  • A gob smacking array of goodies to tempt you into embarking into your next d.i.y project: moisturiser, hand sanitiser, washing powder, face masks…
  • So much fun to just browse- Every time I’ve been I’ve found something new and exciting in bulk

Cons:

  • Can get very squishy, especially during lunch hours. Be prepared to be elbowed out of the soap section by a couple of angry businessmen who are intent on buying some castille soap so that their “skin can be silky smooth and soft” (true story)
  • A lot of the tubs are ground level, so some crouching and balancing may be required to get at the good stuff
  • The staff are usually run off their feet so service can be quite slow, but I just amuse myself by smelling/ groping some pretty soap whilst waiting :). Because they’re under the pump they *will* wrap up your purchases very quickly in paper/ plastic bags unless you gesticulate wildly with both hands (and one leg) that you have your own container/ bag.

GO VITA

Shop 21 Central Market Arcade, Adelaide SA 5000

When you’re done with ogling and getting in everyone’s way at the Honey and Soapbox Shoppe, wander next door for a stress free bulk shopping experience.

What you can find:

Go Vita is an Australian-wide franchise of health food stores. To date this is the only one I’ve found in Adelaide that does bulk foods (I haven’t visited the Glenelg branch yet so happy to be proven wrong). You can sign up for their Good Health Club Card which entitles you to discounts (up to 21% off on the first Tuesday of the month). They do a great range of bulk foods (although small) with lots of tempting snacks (like chick pea chips- my favourite!) and dried fruit. Healthy add-ons like psyllium husk buckwheat groats can be found here. My favourite part is the back of the store, where you can buy protein powders in bulk. This place is definitely under-represented in the bulk shopping world with not as much “social media noise” as they should deserve!

Pros:

  • Truth: I find most bulk shopping stressful. This is the least stressful bulk shopping experience I’ve had to date- The bulk bins are at elbow level with clean scoops, everything is well maintained and set out, no bending over/ crouching is required, no strangers will brush past your bottom here. You also don’t feel rushed so you can take your time serenely filling your glass jars. Bliss.
  • The ladies who run it are absolutely lovely and they obviously attract regular customers. Stop by the counter on your way in and they’ll weigh up your jars for you, and they totally understand the concept of wanting to bulk shop.
  • Health-focussed, so a great place to go to to buy small quantities of weird things to try before shelling out your hard earned clams- e.g. maca powder

Cons:

  • I honestly can’t think of any, other than that I wish they were bigger and had a larger range, because I would definitely try and do most of my shopping here. They do welcome any stock recommendations though, so if there is something that you would use a lot of and would like to see it there- by all means have a chat to one of the lovely staff. I would also love to see more Go Vita stores take up the bulk shopping mantle πŸ™‚

HOUSE OF HEALTH

Stall S73, Adelaide Central Market

If I could live in a cardboard box in the corner of this place I would- I love it so. It would get a bit squishy after a while though.

What you can find: I am surprised that I had only managed to shop here recently, owing to my own ditziness about opening times. They stock a great basic range of healthy grains, nuts, spices, muesli and flours, but where they really shine is in the stuff that can be hard to find: Here you can bring your own container and fill it up with tamari, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, hulled and unhulled tahini, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, and rice malt syrup- heaven for any health food zero waste nutcase (Hello!). You can buy health supplements in bulk, like beetroot powder and spirulina. They also do a lot of things in little glass jars, like bee pollen and organic Australian miso paste. Olive oil is sold for a great price too, so come fill up! The liquid bulk is not self serve though, so grab one of the staff to give you a hand (some of those bulk liquid containers need some coaxing!)

Pros:

  • Ridiculously friendly and helpful staff, know exactly what to do with your jars when you hand them over.
  • As mentioned above- amazing range
  • They have a big glass counter filled with all the tasty raw desserts you could want- raw Snickers cheesecake slice- get in my belly
  • This was the first time that I’ve bumped into someone else at a bulk store who had brought their own jar (to fill up with honey)- this shop must be doing something right! πŸ˜€

Cons:

  • Not all the bulk is self serve, so you may need to wait a bit to get someone to fill up your container for you
  • Can get a bit squishy here. (It is an unfortunate trend in Adelaide that we’re developing a “big city” mentality where people now rush around and start getting pushy in small cramped spaces)
  • I can’t think of another con. I truly do love this little place and the people who run it!
  • Actually- Their opening days are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My gripe is that I wish they were open every day… Forever Β πŸ˜‰ Β *fangirl*

My hope is that my guides will break down any barriers to people who want to bulk shop but feel too unprepared to start. My guides have arisen out of many failed excursions and awkward jar-fumbling moments. I have suffered the humiliation so you don’t have to. The next part in this series will cover some smaller “gems” in the Adelaide Central Market area, and hopefully after that I’ll start delving into the suburbs for more “specialty” treats.

Happy jar-fumbling,

Lisa xx