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29 Dec

Slow food, fiber, soap

Slow is always better. Slow organic food is always more flavorful, has more nutrition, is prettier (usually), tastes better. Slow organic fiber is softer, more durable, prettier. Just put slow organic cotton next to fast commercial cotton. The organic cotton is so soft and has beautiful drape. The commercial cotton is stiff and brittle, telling me that the fibers have less strength and will break. 

Slow organic body care is better.  Sometimes. Here the lines between organic and commercial are not so obvious. Sometimes organic body care can be ill prepared and spoil quickly, disintegrate with one use, and be too caustic. Commercial body care may use bright synthetic colors and strong chemical perfumes, fooling you into thinking it's going to clean. But it doesn't. It causes skin irritations and gives you headaches. An organic soap maker is a skilled tradesperson, requiring patience for a slow process to do it's magic. Lather, natural aromas, the ability for the lather to collect dirt and grease, rinse off and leave your skin clean without residue is all bundled up in a highly skilled craft. It's a lifestyle and a rhythm, where you can fit in other slow, organic processes.

When cooking beans, I usually soak them for 24 hours before I cook them. This reduces the cooking time to 30 minutes for lentils and 2 hours for pintos, on a low heat. Then, I turn off the heat, leave the pot covered and let the retained heat do the rest of the cooking. This may take longer, but uses far less energy and produces excellent flavor.

I do the same for vegetables in the oven. I split a winter squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place the squash halves, upside down in a baking dish with a little water. Preheat the oven to 350, while prepping the squash, bake for 30 minutes and turn the oven off, leaving the squash to continue using the retained heat. I will also put in several more baking dishes in the oven with a kohlrabi in one, diced and tossed with some oil. An eggplant, poked with a few holes, in another.  And maybe a few medium sized potatoes. If the oven is this full, I may leave it on for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn off the oven when everything is 2/3-3/4 cooked and leave it, to use up the latent heat. Do this before going to work and come home to dinner only needing to be heated up a little or served cold if the weather is warm.

While this is cooking I can wake up the indigo pot, feed it some fruit and let it ferment for a few hours. All this while the soap is curing. In the pots, in the molds, and on the racks, waiting for someone to shower. It's all very slow, steady, healthful and nutrient filled. It involves the skilled labor of the artisans and the cooperation of knowledgable farmers, who grow everything organically. Happy plants and animals yield happy soap, clothing, and dinners. If the whole world operated on this paradigm, we'd all be working and getting ahead together. 


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