Defeating the Onions of Doom: The Nerd Fitness Pantry

How many times has this happened to you? Your neighbor, that attractive person you’ve been desperately wanting to meet for months, comes to the door and asks to borrow a couple of oranges. You think, “Shazam! It’s my lucky day.” Immediately agreeing to help, you dash to the refrigerator to retrieve said oranges only to find your refrigerator stocked entirely with onions.

Martin Short and Tina TurnerMany years ago, back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Martin Short did one of his Ed Grimley sketches in which Tina Turner showed up at Ed’s door asking for oranges. If you didn’t sleep through that first paragraph, you can guess what Ed found in his fridge.

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I go to the kitchen in search of food. In my case, my frustration usually arises when my food-snarfing son has gone all conehead on me and consumed mass quantities of whatever I had counted on finding, but the lack of healthy, edible food is a significant obstacle to successful eating.

That’s why I was so pleased that the guys at Nerd Fitness determined to take the common sense approach of describing the Nerd Fitness Pantry. The idea here is to have a flexible selection of ingredients that will keep you from finding your refrigerator full of onions when hunger strikes. In normal Nerd Fitness style, the piece is presented using a video game comparison.

Each item you’ll be gathering on your grocery store mission is like a tool used during questing for one or more purposes. Think of coconut oil like the hook shot in Ocarina of Time: it’s going to take some effort (and real-life rupees) to obtain, but after you have it, you’ll be using it all the time.

Others items are like potions, great to keep around in case of emergency (like if you didn’t have time to cook before work).

This longish entry on the NF blog goes into a lot of detail on both what you ought to buy but why you ought to buy it. It prioritizes things and takes the incredibly commonsense approach of pointing out that you can vary the list to suit your own needs and wants. They even provide a handy chart.

Penny and I have been working on stocking our kitchen in just such a manner, although with different details. What we’ve found is that by having the raw materials on hand, we’re able to eat healthier and waste less while we resist the temptation to throw up our hands in frustration and order a pizza. This sort of planning just seems like good stewardship all around.


The Trifecta of Food Stewardship

Cooking at HomeIf you haven’t already figured it out from my posts, I am enthusiastic about wise eating, that is eating that is

  1. Healthy
  2. Economical
  3. Simple

Of course, food ought to taste good too, but I feel as if that goes without saying. The problem with a lot of modern eating is that it misses out on at least two of the three factors by being done via restaurants.

An article by Taylor Lee over at Pennyhoarder goes right up my way of thinking but adds some practical suggestions for how to make cooking at home not only cheaper and healthier than restaurant fare but also at least as convenient as getting in the car and heading to Applebee’s.

Every meal I plan has to fit three requirements:

  1. It has to be a recipe I enjoy eating.
  2. It has to be easy to make, with no more than 30 minutes of prep time.
  3. I should already have all the tools I need to prepare the dish on hand.

She has plenty more good stuff to share as well. Check it out.

A 50-Year View

Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson have proposed a 50-Year Farm Bill, a bill designed to transform our industrial, soil-stripping form of agriculture into one that can feed people for centuries to come. Katherine Dalton has some useful comments on the matter.

Here is the plan in a nutshell: The 50-Year Farm Bill proposes the government set aside $50 million annually for eight years to sponsor 80 plant breeders and geneticists to develop perennial grain, legume and oilseed crops, plus 30 agricutural and ecological scientists to develop the needed agronomic systems. (I should say here that Dr. Jackson and his co-author Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center do not want money for their own organizations.  The Land Institute will offer its germplasm to other researchers for free.)

Most of us, with an agrarian bent, have at least some sympathy for such ideas. A year or so back, I was blessed to get to share a dinner with Jackson. He’s a fine human being and conversationalist, a far cry from some of the other policy wonks that you might encounter now and again.

I don’t get a vote in Congress. My senators aren’t returning my calls. But I do believe that I could profit from creating a 50-year bill of my own. Will my gardening, my chicken-raising, my pork empire, and whatever else I pursue continue to be practical in 50 years? Will I take two percent of the vitality of the land out each year, leaving it used up, or will I preserve or improve it? How valuable is such a question whatever our life’s activities might be.