I’ve always been interested in food but, when I became pregnant with our first child, I really started to pay more attention to where my food was coming from and what dangers might be lurking inside of it. So, for better or for worse, I became a bit obsessed with eating healthier and cleaner than I had ever eaten before. And what started during that first pregnancy is what led us down the path towards where we find ourselves today….eating organic foods, supporting local farms, growing our own garden, preserving food for the winter, keeping backyard chickens, raising meat rabbits…who knows what will be next!
I also love to read and am always looking for new books that talk about farming or homesteading (especially those inspiring stories about a couple or family that quit the daily grind and started on a new path to wholesome living and doing what they love…I find it all so very romantic!) but also books about our food economy or a specific part of the process, such as honey bees. The downside to this literary education that I choose to immerse myself in is that the amount of negative information can all feel very overwhelming at times – to the point where I start to feel helpless and hopeless and like I should just throw in the towel and accept the fact that…
…one day we will all have cancer and our kids will have food allergies and ADHD and hit puberty at age 8 and probably be diagnosed with diabetes shortly thereafter and our global society will run out of oil and we will all have to put up windmills and solar panels in our backyard and the earth will eventually become inhabitable, either because it fills up with trash or because global warming kills us off….and there is nothing we, as individuals, can do about it in the meantime…
Maybe a bit over the top – or maybe not – but, hey, these are the things that keep me up at night. When faced with fears such as these, it can be difficult to find something to hold on to and a way to feel like you can make a difference. But then I discovered that little changes are much more manageable AND can still have a huge impact on the way we live our lives. And so that’s what we did.
Instead of looking around our entire house at once – in the pantry and refrigerator, under the kitchen sink, in the medicine closet – and seeing the overabundance of chemicals that were in almost everything that we ate, drank, breathed, cleaned the house with, and slathered on our bodies, we resolved to look at one thing at a time and do what we could to make a small change for the better in our small part of the world.
Because that’s all that you can do, really.
Make changes that affect your corner of the world so that at least you know that your family can have a safe haven to come home to after being out in the chemical-laden world. And in this place, our bodies can recharge and detoxify and be ready to take on the world again.
Of course, not all of these changes have proved to be sustainable in our busy family life. For example, I love making homemade hummus and yogurt. However, I found that I had a really hard time keeping up with our family’s consumption of those products and we also happen to be lucky enough to have a healthy and affordable alternative available at our local grocery store. So, in those cases, it didn’t make sense for me to keep spending my time making the “from scratch” version. I’ve also tried making my own homemade laundry detergent in the past with great results but, again, I just couldn’t keep up with our laundry demands so I’ve gone back to buying that item. And I’ve played around with some homemade versions of shampoo, conditioner, liquid dish soap, and dishwasher detergent. But I wasn’t happy enough with the results to feel like it was worth the time and effort.
But, in other cases, where maybe there is no healthy and affordable alternative available to us, I still make things from scratch. For example, I still regularly make homemade granola, bake bread in the breadmaker, make homemade pizza dough, and mix up our own salad vinaigrettes, among other things. I also continue to make our own hand soap and body spray and sunscreen.
In the kitchen, one of the easiest and least time consuming of these “from scratch” options is the homemade salad vinaigrette. You can also save a lot of money and avoid all sorts of additives and preservatives by making your own instead of buying a bottle at the grocery store.
Any basic vinaigrette recipe is simply a mixture of an oil (I like to use a good quality olive oil or avocado oil) with a vinegar or other acidic medium (such as lemon juice or orange juice) and some other ingredients mixed in to add flavor and variety. Below are some of my favorite versions of the homemade salad vinaigrette. In each case, I recommend that you combine everything in a jar or salad dressing container, turn on your favorite dance song and shake it like crazy around the kitchen.
Dance like nobody is watching 😉
P.S…If this concept of little changes sounds like something that you might want to try and want to read more about someone else’s story who used this idea to change her life and start a powerful eco-movement across the country, check out this book: