Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cow-pooling and other ways to save and share

A new term for splitting a hog or a side of beef with your family and friends is "cow pooling."

Like car-pooling, cow-pooling allows people to share their resources, save money and connect with others.

Although I have no personal need for cow-pooling, because I don’t eat red meat, I like the idea.

Before convenience stores and 24-hour super centers, people more freely shared what they had by obliging neighbors and even strangers with a cup of coffee, a hot meal or a night's stay.

Back then, if you were smack-dab in the middle of baking a cake from scratch and found that you were out of vanilla extract or eggs, you would simply dial your neighbor or rap on her back door to borrow the missing ingredients.

Then, after the baked the cake, you would share some with your generous neighbor as a show of appreciation for her generosity.

Now, if you are out of something, you run to the store.

I miss the idea of borrowing a cup of flour or a teaspoon of cream of tartar. Most of all, I long for the sense of closeness and community such interdependence fosters.

Could the concept of cow-pooling extend to what’s in our cupboards? Could we cupboard-pool to save, share and connect?

Take, for example, my two cans of baking powder. Both are open and hardly used. I probably have two open cans because I couldn’t find the one and drove to the store to purchase the other.

Not being much of a baker, I will probably not use this amount of baking powder in my lifetime. Instead of it going to waste, I could cupboard-pool with my neighbors so that they could use my baking powder.

Consider the savings with cupboard-pooling. Fewer trips to the store to buy what neighbors already have and are not using. We would reduce gasoline consumption, which is good for the environment and lessens our dependence on foreign oil. We would save on the wear and tear on our vehicles.

Cupboard-pooling could be a co-op of sorts with goods such as sugar, flour, bread, milk, baking powder, cinnamon, sage, salt, cream of tartar, vanilla extract, allspice, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon sticks, chili powder, oregano, sweet basil, and ground mace.

This borrowing and lending would foster acts of giving and receiving. Cupboard-pooling would enlarge our relationships and diminish our self-absorbent independence.

Sharing resources would help us to connect with the people who are living out their lives in virtual isolation right next door or down the street – people we may hardly know or with whom we seldom converse.

Consider your neighbors. Look inside your kitchen cupboards. Think of the ways you can share your resources. You’ll probably see that my story is your story. Cupboard-pooling, anyone?

2009 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, blog with her at http://my-story-your-story.blogspot.com/ and find her on FaceBook.

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