Americans can’t just wake up on any random day of the year and resolve to do things a little differently. But the ritual of using birthdays and the new year to effect change in our lives appears to be locked in the pomp and circumstance of being a curious consumer creature in the cornucopia of Western culture.
With that in mind, here’s a checklist of digestible deeds to help define the new you:
Grow Something (Anything) Edible
You don’t need to trade your car for acreage in Cundiyo or swap your overcoat for overalls and start a boutique farm that specializes in superpriced sorghum; just pick a simple project and reap the rewards of putting your fingers in a tiny patch of soil.
Cook More Food at Home
Our local restaurants need your continued patronage in these never-ending tough times, but a home-cooked meal delivers a different kind of pleasure. Beyond the benefits of breaking (your own) bread with friends and family and actually using that tagine your terrible aunt gave you for Christmas, setting aside time for both casual and complicated cooking can bring a meditative calm.
Eat Local (Within Reason)
You don’t have to restrict yourself to foods sourced in a 50-mile radius or forage for your own feasts, but locally-produced foods are fresh and fairly priced, and have a huge impact on the same local economic ecosystem that pays for public schools and probably pitches in substantively on your own paycheck. Whether you frequent restaurants that offer local fare or work farm-fresh treasures into your own cooking, regional eats offer more than flavor in the mix.
Be More Gracious with Gratuity
Leaving a tip when eating out is not subject to a reward/punishment system—good tip for good service, bad tip or no tip for bad service. Workers in the service industry in New Mexico frequently earn less than minimum wage and rely heavily on their (taxed) tips to eke out an existence. Plus, when you punish someone for subpar service by skimping on the tip, you’re just vindictively creating a bad relationship, rather than understanding that things are sometimes chaotic and rarely perfect. If you consistently tip well—even when you’re frustrated—it’ll come back to you.
Imbibe Your Own Inventions
Whether you use a Sodastream to create your own carbonated concoctions or ancient fermentation techniques to encourage living libations, making juices, beers, wines, teas and medicinal drinks from scratch is a new frontier in food preparation and a deeply satisfying one. Just remember to taste it yourself before you invite your friends over.
Learn to Do Something New
Between the Santa Fe School of Cooking, the community college, Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe, the farmers market, local radio programs and a ton of below-the-radar instruction, Santa Fe overflows with cooking instruction and the potential to hone existing skills. Even if you’re already the sultan of sauce or the princess of paella, you can always stuff a new trick up an old sleeve.
Throw Someone a Bone (with Some Meat on It)
Food insecurity is a real threat in New Mexico, with a disturbingly high percentage of the population at risk of not having enough food for a healthy diet. You can do your bit by donating (even on a very small scale) to The Food Depot, Kitchen Angels or one of the many organizations that help provide something extra to people who really, really need it.