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Handmade Butter and Cheese

Without my own cow or goat, the secret to getting dairy products is all about neighborliness.

Wealth on a 10-mile diet turns out to be butter and cheese. We all need fat. (In our food, not on our bodies.)

The butter I made myself (well, the cow made the fat, but I processed it). They said all you had to do is put real cream (not pasteurized) into a jar and shake it and an upper body workout later you’d have butter. Voila. It was great on Tricia’s potato today for lunch.

The cheese was made by my neighbor’s daughter from this morning’s goat milking. I can’t yet give you the secret of making it because I didn’t do it.

But there is a secret of neighborliness. I moved here over 5 years ago. Quite a sick puppy, recovering from cancer. My first year people left me alone because I carried a “Do not bother me” sign on my back (figuratively). Year two I began to make myself useful and available. Joined the choir, served on a town committee. Year three I started a Transition Town chapter. Every action a thread weaving my life into the life of the island. Last year I bought a house and I felt the weave get even tighter and more beautiful. In a way, by buying, I told the people of this place that I'm staying, that they can count on me. And so it is that I can weave this 10-mile diet thread in without a catch. It’s natural for me to ask and others to offer, for them to ask and me to say yes.

Perhaps this is the deeper meaning of “natural food.”


Vicki Robin is blogging for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions, about her experiment with a 10-mile diet on Whidbey Island, Wa. The coauthor of Your Money or Your Life, Vicki teaches classes about frugal, creative, and self-sufficient living (see www.yourmoneyoryourlife.org). 

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