Monthly Archives: July 2012

Restaurant Homesteading

Restaurant homesteading is the best way to describe our current metamorphosis. Maya, one of the servers here at Adama, interviewed me the other day.  She is an environmental studies major.  As we spoke about the ways in which we at Adama are trying to walk more softly on the earth (or on the “adama,” which means earth), I was amazed at how much the little changes have become who we are.

A couple of years ago when Marsha and I pondered the restaurant-to-be, we agreed that it needed to have meaning apart from feeding hungry customers.  There is reward in providing sustenance.  But as I grow older, I ask myself more often this question: Am I just taking up space, or am I leaving the space any better than when I got it?  As someone who believes in a creator, am I honoring him by respecting the creation?  Do you show your love for an artist by trampling on the work of his hands?  People put a coaster down on a table so that the glass doesn’t leave a ring (however I am not one of them).  Maybe we should treat the planet like a valued table and purposefully try to preserve its beauty.

We are part of the Santa Barbara restaurant composting program.  One day when the representative was here, I went through some of our garbage with him to make sure that I was separating it properly. There were three things that he told me were plainly not recyclable.  These items were the containers that our “milks” came in, the tofu packaging, and the foil wrappers from Earth Balance.  I set out to eliminate all of them.

We now make our own soy, almond, and coconut milk.  Hemp will be added as soon as we go through what we have.  We dry out the pulp and grind it for flour, intend to use the soy milk to make tofu, and have been making ice cream out of both the almond and coconut milks.  We use the containers from vegan cream cheese and miso to store the ice cream.  And we now purchase Earth Balance in a 45 lb box to eliminate the wrappers.  We use coconut milk for curry as well, avoiding the cans that it previously came in.

Yesterday I made a nut milk bag with the sewing machine that I keep here at Adama. For the drawstring, I used the ties that our linen service uses to bundle our dish towels. It was so easy and makes the whole milk-making process less messy.  It is, for me, profoundly satisfying.  Just as using convenience foods has a domino effect in our lives, I am finding that preparing foods in a way that is not always convenient is like a gift that just keeps giving; for me, for the customers, for the planet.


Less Recycling, More Repurposing

This blog is going to start chronicling my attempt, both in my personal life and at Adama, to recycle less and repurpose more.  The problem with recycling is that sometimes its confusing.  And eventually whatever is recycled becomes trash.  I mean sooner or later, you know?  I recently discovered the term “repurpose” and realized that I have been trying to do that but didn’t know to call it that.

I have always been a conserver.  Not OCD about it, but, o.k., maybe a little.  Its never been a financial thing.  Its like I tell the servers, use as much water as you want to wash your hands, the more the better.  But the operative word here is “use.”  Don’t turn on the water and then soap up your hands for a minute while the water goes down the drain.  I can never get out of my head the fact that some people walk with a jug to acquire some dirty water.  I conserve water out of respect.  And out of vivd memories of the NY water shortage of the mid-60s.  Some people see suffering, see shortages, see the way some people and animals struggle and frown for a moment and forget about it.  I have never been one of those people.  Its a hard life when you internalize these experiences, but I am content to be discontent regarding the plight of others.

I know I haven’t said much about repurposing yet, but I will.