mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

On being a humaneitarian July 26, 2013

Filed under: family,food — Deborah @ 11:13 pm
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Photo of pig by titanium22.

Photo by titanium22. Used under Creative Commons License.

Sometimes the paths we take are a winding road.

I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater. I even experimented once with vegetarianism in college, but in those days (pre-internet) it wasn’t easy to find information on how to make that work well so it didn’t take.

When our daughter was about 6 months old and ready to start eating solid foods, my husband and I decided to go organic with the food we prepared at home. We are lucky because one of the best organic food co-ops in the country is right here in our neighborhood – Outpost Natural Foods.

One of the things that Outpost does really well is to educate you about your food choices. I started to learn more about where the meat we ate came from, and the challenges family farms have (and conversely, the damage factory farms cause). I read books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and saw films like Vegucated. And once you start educating yourself about the food you eat, you find quickly there is a lot we take for granted in the US that is just plain wrong. How we treat farm animals in this country, to enable us to have “cheap” meat, is one if them.

When you start considering the REAL cost of this “inexpensive” protein, in terms of the toll on the environment, the animals, and the bodies and souls of the humans who process it, you start to look askance at deals that seem too good to be true.

I had a bit of a dilemma. We’re meat eaters. We LOVE our meat. But I also have a conscience, and learning about how mass produced meat and eggs are really produced makes you not want to support that business model. And when I realized that becoming a vegan isn’t going to be able to move the needle, because it’s too challenging of a lifestyle to ever reach mass acceptance and ultimately kill factory farming, I decided that I would instead have to find another way to put my money – literally – where my mouth is.

If you, like me, are lucky enough to have discretionary income – enough money that you can go out to eat at restaurants occasionally, buy some $3 cup of coffee at the local coffee shop every morning before work, and have high-speed internet access at your house, then you have enough money to have the luxury of making REAL choices about the food you eat. You can afford to speak for the animals, if you so choose, and that is certainly the choice I and my family have made.

Only recently did I learn that my choices had a name – humaneitarianism. The premise is simple – only eat meat when you know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed (the web site has great information on what that means, and help for you to determine what that means for you), and if you don’t know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed, then forego meat for that meal. Spend more per pound on the meat you choose to eat (you will have to to support the local, family farms that raise and process animals humanely), but just eat less meat overall. In the end, if more people chose to be humaneitarian, the better our health would be, the better our environment would be, and the better our communities would be. Isn’t that worth it?


A garden of one’s own, the (sort-of) “square foot” way July 7, 2010

Filed under: home & garden — Deborah @ 10:29 am
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I live in the city, and I have a teeny, tiny yard. Great for having fun on the weekends because I don’t have to mow my lawn (it takes about 10 minutes to mow the front, there is absolutely no grass in the back), but not great if you want to grow your own vegetables.

When we first moved in we put a garden in the back, near the garage. We had great veggies those first two years. Then shrubs and trees and the reality of having to put the tomatoes in the same place every year (encourages blight) and the harvest dwindled and dwindled to the point where last year the “garden” was a big patch of weeds. I actually convinced myself it was a “native prairie garden.” Yeah right. A big patch of weeds does not look so great in a teeny tiny yard.

Square Foot Gardening

"All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew

Years ago I had heard of “square foot gardening” and I thought it was a bunch of hooey. Probably because it’s proponents were kind of nutty about it – competing to see who would get the most harvest from the smallest space. Weird zealots.

Fast forward to March and my eight year old bringing home seeds from school, asking, “Mom, can we grow some zucchini and carrots this year?”  And then me looking out at the “native prairie garden” in the backyard, and then looking at my insane schedule, and then my looking at my cute, sweet daughter and saying “of course we can sweetie.” Hmm.

First thought was BOX GARDENS. That’s the new, hip and cool way to build gardens, right? So, I need a box. Lots of instructions on the web to “build” your box, all of which require lumber, and drills and tools and a concept of geometry that escapes me. Next option, BUY the box. Again, lots of choices, most costing slightly less than the mortgage on my house. Enter Sam’s Club. Worth joining for $35 to get the deal of a lifetime on two box gardens. No tools needed. Perfect.

Then on to to calculate how much dirt I would need to fill said boxes. It was a lot (1.5 cubic yards). Way more than would fit in the back of my VW Beetle. So I did the next best thing and call our handy local landscape service (a nice father/son business, reasonably priced) and found they would deliver the dirt and put it in the boxes for about $40 more than me just getting the dirt myself. Way worth the price.

So one bright sunny Saturday I cleared the weeds. Well, not really. I cleared some of the “big” weeds and the rest I just rolled some weed barrier fabric over. I installed the boxes (literally took about 30 minutes for two 4×7 foot boxes). Then lay down mulch in over the weed barrier fabric in the aisles. Next day the landscaper came and delivered the dirt and we were in business.

I planted my daughter’s zucchini and carrots. Now granted, we are in Milwaukee, and it was mid-June by the time this all got done, so it’s not very likely that we’ll have any zucchini before the snow flies. But we may have zucchini flowers (and the Italians do this great dish with zucchini flowers and ricotta cheese …). I planted some tomatoes, which may or may not grow because I don’t think we get enough sun there any more (the shrubs and trees). Some herbs, some beans, some lettuce. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get my gardening mojo back.


Why do I not want to garden? April 17, 2010

Filed under: general,uncategorized — Deborah @ 9:12 am
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Image from Your LifeEvents

I used to be an avid gardener. “Used to be” before kid and dog and all the other responsibilities that come along with it. Once my daughter was born, gardening dropped down to about number 72 on my list of things to do, and my yard languished. Now it shows.

The thing is, I love and can appreciate beautiful gardens. Heck, I even love just CLEAN gardens at this time of year. Me, I still have dead peony stalks draped over askew peony cages as the new buds are trying to peek through all that mess. In fact, I should be out there now rather than writing this.

I’m learning that I have to try to let go of doing everything well. Sure, I look on in envy at a friend who is a stay-at-home mom (granted, with an 11-year old) whose house and yard are beautiful and immaculate. Every day she’s working on some project or another, maintaining and beautifying her house.

Look too far under the surface in my house and you’ll see the dust, the gathering of years of subtle neglect. At the same time, however, I try to remind myself I lead a very busy, full life, with a demanding job, and realize that I CHOOSE to prioritize my free time for my family, not my house.

Is that so bad? My peonies seem to think so.