I have been saying for several years now that the US is driving down a highway at 90 miles an hour and heading for a wall. It isn’t the speed that will get us. It’s that sudden stop. The thing to do of course, is evolve. We can put on the brakes, wear our seat belts, change direction, grow up and slow down. As in all of nature, that which does not evolve to suit the times is headed for extinction. This weekend I found myself in the uncomfortable position of realizing that I was not heeding my own advice. I was stuck in one paradigm which stopped me from changing to suit the situation.

As you all know, the blight took my tomatoes. I grieved the loss and then went looking for more as I usually put up well over 50 quarts of sauce a year. I mentioned this to my friend Kathy (better know as the peak shrink over at Peakoilblues). Kathy listened to me and asked in a very calm, psychotherapist kind of voice, “Why are you doing this? The tomatoes you find will be expensive and come from far away. Why not bag it and buy canned tomatoes on sale and make your sauce from those?”  Well “duh” as my kids would say. The only reason is because I was stuck in a “this is how I always do it” place. Time to evolve.

I went to the market and plunked down about $45.00 for plum tomatoes, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. I am glad it got them right away as there was a sale going on and some things were already sold out. I have garlic, peppers, onion, basil, oregano, summer squash and zucchini at home. I am going to buy some ground beef from a local farmer who sells local, grass fed beef for $5.00 a pound. Half of my sauce will have meat, half will be vegetable. I am going to purchase enough ketchup and salsa to get me through a year.

There are a lot of advantages to doing it this way. I can stretch the canning out rather than trying to do it all at once when the tomatoes ripen. I can even wait until it’s cooler outside and the kids are back in school as the other vegetables can be chopped and tossed in the freezer, then pulled out as I need them. The extra time means I can be more creative about the sauce rather than just pounding it out. The pressure is off and I feel a lot better. And the sauce will still cost under $.80 a quart without meat.

The big danger to people during a time of resource depletion and economic contraction is that they will get bogged down in how it ought to be or used to be or how they want it to be and they will refuse to adapt to how it actually is. My friend, Helene, says that without tomato sauce, they will just eat more pesto and mushroom sauce. Adapt. If I can’t wash clothes the way I always have, I will wear clothes longer or wash in a tub with a plunger and wring them out with a mop wringer. Adapt. If I can’t drive as much I will bike or carpool or stay home. I can use an ice box and get rid of my refrigerator. I can cook in an outdoor oven. Some of my kids may move home. I will turn the heat way down and shut off part of my house and enlarge the garden. Adapt. Life will be different. Not altoghether worse, just not what we are accustomed to. To survive, we will adapt.