Bulk Goods

I dream of having a no-waste kitchen.

Every ingredient in a reusable, and reused, glass jar. I take jars, or containers, or bags, to the zero waste grocery store or to the market, tare them on the scale, and fill up, then pay by weight.

I order in bulk – 10 or 20 lbs at a time of rice, beans, grains, staples, nuts, and dried fruit. We have a deep chest freezer that keeps a half side each of pork and beef, and another third of chickens and rabbits, which we sell through a buyer’s group.

Everything is sourced from people we know. We buy peppers, apples, green beans, berries, stone fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower – whatever we can’t grow ourselves, or produce enough of – by the case and split them into boxes for our buyer’s group. We buy cases of seconds and damaged fruits and vegetables; what we can’t turn into soups, jams, chutneys, ferments or other preserves, we feed to the animals or turn into compost or both.

I pick all this up in our hybrid car that has a tow hitch installed by UHaul with a lightweight trailer on the back. There’s a second trailer that’s built as an easy-cleanout bin on the bottom and a wire cage on top; we take that to farmers’ markets with the chickens and a few rabbits in it, and have patrons and vendors alike toss their green tops, damaged goods and wilted leaves into it. We teach about soil ecology and all the organisms, how to create an ‘animated compost’ using a deep litter system, water retention and organic matter, reducing diseases, flies and crop pests; improving health and raising healthy, thriving, happy animals.

In the garage there’s an aquaponics system – a deep, dark tank where footlong fish drift lazily along the margins, and snails track long lines across the sides. Duckweed blankets the surface and the steady trickle-and-hum marks the functioning of the pump and filters. It’s a peaceful place to hang out, watch the fish, pick some herbs or harvest fresh veggies.

Then there are the weird things: the triple-bin stainless steel worm bin for the humanure toilet; the styrofoam-digesting mealworm bins; and the black soldier fly larvae that happily munch their way through food waste and dead stuff to turn into fat, juicy, protein-rich chicken food. If we could figure out how to farm the junebug larvae, we’d be on it: it seems like moist, warm piles of nearly-finished compost are very effective so far.

Everything has a place and multiple possibilities. Forages go to the chickens and rabbits; ducks get the softer leaves and wilting greens, and love any and every snail we can toss to them. So too, the black soldier fly larvae. Mushrooms abound along the greywater system that drains from the laundry, kitchen and shower, which also sports taro, lima beans, and passionfruit. Lemongrass and water cress surround and fill the final filtration basin, and calla lilies create a handsome edible backdrop.

The scene is positively delicious; smells wonderful; looks stunning; feels ecstatic. I love it.

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