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.