If we think about the ancient names for winter moons—wolf, hunger, bone are some—we realize that in the darkest months of the year our long-ago and far-away indigenous ancestors found their stores of food low, their daylight limited, their ability to preserve and store food, and hunt to supplement their diets a matter of survival. In other words, the wolf was at their door.
Certainly, it was a time to be frugal. But not today, right? Just head to the grocery store for an endless, convenient supply of food...well, of edible products, anyway. Frugality is for those with limited resources or for people who are stingy and who hoard to have more than the next person yes? NO.
The true meaning of frugality is something like “fruitfulness--getting more out of little.” To quote Jessica Prentice from her bestselling book Full Moon Feast, “Through this kind of frugality—this wonderful fruitfulness—and an ethic of universal stewardship we might just be able to survive whatever ecological crisis comes our way. By caring for one another, by working together, and by cooperating...we may find ways to keep the metaphorical wolf from our door without driving the literal wolf to extinction. May we celebrate wildness in all its forms, including its presence in our own indigenous souls.”
I’m in! Now how about you? Frugality—in its true meaning—is the very definition of loving what we have instead of reaching for the next new shiny thing. And here’s how I am practicing frugality today: I am sautéing carefully stored onions, sweet potatoes and garlic from the fall with last summer’s “farmer seconds” tomatoes and poblano peppers, frozen at their peak in July. All this will be added to dry lentils, seasoned with my fresh bay plant and some cherished whole spices, all cooked up together with vegetable-scrap stock I made myself from stuff I bet most people throw away—onions skins, carrot tops, fennel fronds and tomato cores. So delicious, so simple, so full of fruitful, frugal flavor.