Starving, my foot

Self-sufficiency, even the tepid, amateur type Kevin and I practice, has lots of disadvantages. You have to get up early, do heavy work, subject yourself to the vicissitudes of nature, and get used to having insects absolutely everywhere. You eat a diet heavy on kale and light on mangoes. You’re a slave to your heavy equipment.

But it should have one unequivocal advantage: you stay thin. Pioneers and peasants are lean, mean, self-sustaining machines. If, come January, you can’t zip your jeans, you know you are neither.

Sad to say, I am neither.

While it is one of the lessons of this lifestyle that to everything there is a season, no one ever mentions that winter is the season for indolence and baking.

If we were true pioneers, we’d undoubtedly have a slate of winter chores like carding wool and repairing fences which would keep us off the couch, but we’re dilettantes, so we don’t. Instead, we have a house that we keep cold enough that a nice pot of slow-cooking stew or a crusty loaf of long-baking bread sounds not just tasty, but practical. Warmth! We have eggs that are calling out to be turned into muffins and puddings. And we have a half-year’s supply, at least, of meat.

This is not in the pioneer spirit. Not only did we not raise this meat ourselves (we bought it, in one fell swoop, from Blood Farm, an off-Cape slaughterhouse that handles the animals from the small farms in a wide vicinity), but neither did we smoke, cure, can, or process it ourselves. We simply stuck it in our non-pioneering 13-cubic-foot Energy Star Kenmore upright freezer.

And this is why I weigh ten pounds more than I ought to. Instead of being outside doing food-related jobs, I’m inside reading food-related blogs – most of which encourage indolence and baking. (Particularly diabolical is John at Food Wishes and his Boston cream pie post – “where New Year’s resolutions go to die,” he says, unapologetic.)

Playing in to the winter weight-gain dynamic is the Wholesomeness Paradox (explained in exhaustive detail here), the seductive idea that a locally grown, lovingly raised, whole food must be good for you, even if it’s pig jowls. Our home-grown tomatoes are fine and healthful, and we eat them raw all summer. In winter, though, the ones we put down in September just beg to be stew or chili. And stew or chili, even if it’s made with grass-fed beef from grass-fed cows who were, until very recently, grazing the verdant fields of northeast Massachusetts, isn’t the stuff that weight loss is made of.

To make matters worse, there’s some evidence that cold weather makes us conserve calories, which would have been a neat survival strategy back in olden times when food was scarce in winter. But, when the survival strategy for scarcity meets our overflowing 13-cubic-foot Energy Star Kenmore upright freezer, you get jeans you can’t zip.

I am taking steps. Now that there’s no snow on the ground, I’m running more. We just got two cords of wood delivered, so I’m trying to be less parsimonious with the heat. We’re attempting to go alcohol-free a couple nights a week. I’m reading Denise and Lenny at Chez Us, who have gone public with their commitment to lose ten pounds in as many weeks.

I’ll really get serious as soon as that Boston cream pie is gone.

10 people are having a conversation about “Starving, my foot

  1. Good luck with that cutting down the alcohol thing. I’ve managed to get off coffee (I write this as I down a cup of espresso) and tea and am down to only herbals, mostly for health reasons. So I am trying to work alcohol to be consumed only on the weekends, for the weight loss and general clean up of my poor overworked liver. Every morning, I steel myself with firm resolve, and then cave around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. Sometimes 3:30…

  2. Is Inaho Sushii on your diet food plan? I think it’s still on mine, but they don’t have cream pie……..
    I am with Paula, but I always wait till 5. I think it is easier to limit what you take in per day. Shoot for only one (or two) daily instead of nothing during the week and then onto a bender over the weekend.

  3. “Blood Farm” sounds like the name of a low-budget horror movie. Do they sneak up behind the animals, then dispatch them with chainsaws?

  4. Paula — I’m not giving up coffee. No way, no how.

    Linda — Alcohol-wise, I find it easier to drink a little most nights than none a few nights, but Kevin’s the opposite. I figure that if that’s our biggest incompatibility we’re doing well.

    Lisa — Sounds like it, doesn’t it? ‘Blood’ is the rather unfortunate family name.

    Alexandra — There’s some comfort knowing I’m not the only one!

  5. If you’re still looking to rename your website, I’m changing my vote to ‘Indolence and Baking’.

    Do you find that dealing with with gluts or good harvests, you try and make things for the freezer but end up grazing, or having an extra bit for dinner just to try it out, even if you’re not hungry? That accounts for some of my extra poundage.

    Coffee is my only lifeline, You will have to prise the cup out of my cold, dead hand.

    I’ve cut out alcohol, cream, and butter in an effort to slim down. My trousers still don’t button and I’m having cream withdrawl.

    Curse you for the Boston Cream Pie link…

  6. Jen — Step away from the Boston cream pie link! And, yes, I graze constantly as I prep and cook food. Kevin marvels at it. Butter and cream aren’t my big problems, fond as I am of them. It’s pasta and bread that pose a greater danger for me. Oh, and stew and soup. And baked goods. It’s hopeless.

  7. Kate — You would never catch me dissing pig jowls! In fact, it was your post on guanciale that put the very idea of pig jowls in my mind. Not only are pig jowls good eating, they play into one of me iron-clad rules of gastronomy: everything’s better with preserved pork products.

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