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Off The Grids: Why the Earth has Stopped Nourishing Life and Appropriate Christmas Cards.

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Lesson One – Spend less on food, start making money at home, and get healthier in one easy lesson. This is part of an ongoing series that will show you how the Grid Gets you and how to step off.


Scene One – What you Eat

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Jonathan Daunt went to the grocery store, ambling through the produce section. His appetite for something that satisfied a sense of unquenched need kept him doing the grocery shopping even though he never found anything that worked. Mildred, his wife was happy to have him do the job. His experience had taught him that the tomatoes would always taste like cardboard. He ascribed that to the fact that they are picked still green for transport. Jonathan, now retirement age, was aware that the varieties grown by the big farm factories are chosen for their ability to withstand transport, not for their taste. They also come to you with pesticides, something he tried not to think about as he washed them before putting them away.

He sighed, remembering how the tomatoes tasted, fresh from the garden, on his grandparent's farm. Jonathan could almost taste the succulent, vibrant flavor that lingered on his tongue; he could see their ripe, red surfaces almost bursting with juice in the hot afternoon sun. Sometimes he was sure he could smell them. The tomatoes in the store did not smell at all.

Sometimes he had visited the local farmer's market and that was better – but it was hard to get there when you are working and the vegetables are not much cheaper.......and money was becoming a bigger issue every day, despite his salary.

After dinner, feeling curiously hungry – Jonathan sat back. He had again eaten too much because he was somehow not satisfied. That morning he had taken his vitamins and supplements, wondering briefly how people ever survived without them.

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Remember when food nourished you?

Scene Two – Outsourced

Jonathan could not believe it could happen to him. They had cut his last check and closed the office the same day; when he drove over the next morning to pick up some books he had forgotten a FOR RENT sign was already up. He called Sam; the two had worked together for twenty years. Sam said he had heard that that there are questions about the 401Ks now, too. Jonathan had been looking forward to his retirement. He and his wife, Mildred, thought they were secure. Now, Marianne, their youngest daughter was moving home with her two kids; her husband just up and left, taking their savings with him. That included the money they had lent them for the down payment on the cute little starter house.

Scene Three – The Electric Bill

Two months later Jonathan had to tell Mildred and Marianne they could no longer use the heater, although it was now 15 degrees outside. “Bundle up,” he told them, trying not to cry. He and Mildred had bought the house when, “All Electric, the home of the future,” was gleaming with the promise that life could be as simple as flicking a switch and so clean you would never have to scrub. Every month Jonathan thanked God that the house was at least paid for. Their neighbors who had refinanced for vacations and improvements were slowly being squeezed out.

If they used the electric heater their bill every month was around $600.00; more than the mortgage had been. But now there was no income. So through that winter they bundled up, burning some wood in the fireplace; At least they had hot baths once a week.

Scene Four - Springtime

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Jonathan had never been much interested in gardening but over the winter thinking about those tomatoes from his childhood, as their money slipped away, he started surfing the web. He found heritage seeds and shelled out the money for those and other kinds of seed that made his mouth water. All three of them were working at odd jobs to bring in cash. They had emptied the bank account and closed it just before the bank failed. They would need money to pay the Property Tax Bill this April and for that damned electricity.

The whole family got involved. Mildred and Marianne decided on more heritage seeds when he showed them those. It became their project, really. He got to do the heavy lifting as they all dug up the ratty grass lawn and the sad looking rose bushes to be transplanted. Nothing seems to have any life in it any more, the thought flashed through his mind.

By June the kids were working on making sure that the garden was kept busy. Seeds replaced plants harvested immediately. Mildred and Marianne found a nursery with half dead fruit trees and had gotten them free; that was just at the time they found the plant food from a friend in Indiana. They had managed to keep the phone connected. Now there are ten fruit trees and plans to turn the fruit into lots of things, jam, jelly, preserves, dried fruit. Marianne was determined to start selling them and had designed her own label.

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father (more...)

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