Monday, February 8, 2010

Eliminating the Food Processor

Last week we had a blackout. It's amazing- we lack just one thing- electricity- and the whole city shuts down.

The other day I made zucchini tuna patties. Usually I would take out my trusty food processor, feed the zucchinis and potatoes into the roaring unit and then be over and done with it.
It was a beautiful day. I took my washed zucchinis and potatoes outside in a bowl, brought my grater outside, sat at a table and grated away while my son played beside me.

Why grate veggies if I have a food processor?
I'm trying to cut down on the money I spend on utilities. I'm hanging my wash and cutting back on my water usage. My train of thought is why pay the electric company to do something that I can easily do myself?
By grating my zucchinis and spuds instead of letting my food processor do the same task in less time and for less effort, I accomplished a few things:
I was able to be outdoors on a beautiful day instead of being tied to the machinery in my kitchen.
I was able to spend time with my son while preparing food, explaining to him how the grater works, and teaching him how to cook. When the food processor is working I cannot involve my son because the thunderous roar precludes conversation and because of the danger caused by the spinning sharp slicers on the machine.
My arms got a workout from all that grating.
I didn't need to pay for electricity.
Eliminating the food processor and much of my other time saving machinery from my life seems pretty doable now that I see that I can make my own patties without needing to pay the electric company for doing half the work.

Wait a minute, I can hear you asking. With all that you're doing, cutting out these modern technological aids, you might as well live in the 1800s and not the 21st century.
And you know what? You're right.
I think that aside for medical emergencies and life threatening situations, the 1800s were a much better time to live. Life was simpler and had more meaning, and I wouldn't mind at all living then.

I think that we live in a very backward world today. We use modern technology to accomplish most tasks for us so that we can have more free time. We need money to fund this technology so we use our newly found free time to work more hours to earn more money.
We drive everywhere by car instead of walking or horseback riding; we use machines to do all our physical labor; we have water pumped to us instead of needing to get it by hand from a well; we buy foods ready made to save the time and energy expenditure necessary to make it from scratch; and then we pay for memberships to gyms or buy more machinery to help us work out and stay in shape.
Wouldn't it make more sense to just be a little more self sufficient, do things on our own a little more, instead of working hard and siphoning off most of the money we're making for things we can do ourselves with a little more effort?
Not to mention, we don't get to spend the time with people we love because we're too busy working to support the lifestyles to which we've become accustomed.

I will agree, even after working to pay for our time saving devices, we do have some extra time that people didn't use to have 200 years ago. But where did that get us? Nowhere, in my opinion.
Yes, we have more free time. But idle hands breed mischief. People with too much time on their hands get themselves into trouble.
Are we happier now that we have extra time? I don't think so.
I'm reading the book “This is Your Brain in Love” for a future book review on this site, and the author, Earl Henslin mentions that its been proven that physical labor doing meaningful things is actually quite beneficial to better mental health and to combat depression. Physical labor helps, but when that physical labor is just bicycling in place to burn calories, or doing 100 sit ups to tone abs, that doesn't result in nearly as much of a feel good as when you sew your own clothes, work in your garden, roll out your own noodles, etc.

I think society has gotten it all wrong. We've mostly made it that we cannot even rely on doing things for ourselves- we need to pay people for certain things even if we would rather avoid it.
If I would want to build my own home out of trees I cut down on land that I found (similar to what happened in the olden days in the US) today, I would still need to pay a lot of money for the land, pay for the wood for the home because there just aren't any more trees where I live, pay for inspections by the government, pay for building permits, etc.
If I would want to not need to rely on the water company to provide me with water and instead use a self dug well- well, I'm in trouble then. I don't have any equipment to dig a well, the water is all poluted, and the groundwater here belongs to the national water company. Not to mention that I don't think I'd even get permission from the government to build my own well and if I did, I'd need to pay for special permits.

I remember the great blackout of 2003 in Northwestern US. The world just stopped. There was no way to get food, and even our water pressure started going down and eventually we had no more water at all from the faucets. Lives were at risk because of the world's dependence on electricity.
We rely too much on electricity. The world shouldn't need to come to an end just because we don't have electricity.
I cannot change the world, but I can change myself and those around me, one step at a time. I can be more self reliant. I can stop paying the electric company to do what I can do myself. I can continue hanging my laundry, making my food from scratch, use more energy efficient equipment, and cut down on my usage of time savers in the kitchen.
I can't wait for the summer months so I can build and start using a solar oven.

Long ago people had little need for money. They'd do what they needed to do on their own. What they couldn't accomplish on their own, they'd barter. Occasionally they'd still have need for money, but not nearly as frequently as we use money today.
I'd like to pretend I lived in the 19th century. Life was better then. Life was simpler. Life was a little more self sufficient. Life was happier.
Does anyone have a time machine?

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