Project Louise: New Habit? It's In The Bag

The Salad Club is dead. Long live the Salad Club!

Way back in January, in the early days of Project Louise, my fabulous colleague Jessica Coughlin made an offer I couldn’t refuse: She would bring in salad ingredients every day, and I would eat them.

We’re lucky at WBUR to have a well-equipped staff kitchen, so it was easy to take whatever showed up in the bag and make a delicious, huge salad. Other folks in the office soon noticed this development and wanted a piece of it, and so the Salad Club was born.

For a small – I mean really, really small – monthly fee, Jess would bring in all kinds of wonderful greens from her garden, along with produce from Allandale Farm, great dressings and other assorted treats. The other four Salad Club members, including me, could also bring in whatever garnishes and accompaniments we wanted to add.

Nirvana ensued.

But, like so many good things, it couldn’t last forever. Two weeks ago, Jess announced with regret that because of vacation, moving, and the increasing work demands of her despotic boss (that would be me), she just didn’t have the bandwidth anymore to keep doing this.

Despair ensued.

But then a funny thing happened.

First, I realized last Monday – the start of our first post-Club week – that it really was not that hard to pack up a bunch of salad ingredients for myself and bring them in. In fact, it was a lot easier to do that than to try to remember what I used to do for lunch.

Next, CommonHealth co-host Carey Goldberg, an enthusiastic Club member, proposed a reinvention of the Club, as an anarcho-collectivist free-will honor-system co-op. Or, to use the simpler explanation she gave, let’s all bring stuff in and trust that everyone will do her share.

We all happily jumped at this plan and even took on assignments. Carey signed up to bring in greens; I’m also doing greens and what I flippantly called “lagniappe” (you could look it up; what I meant was just little fun things to put on top of the greens, because that’s what makes me happy to eat salad); another person is bringing legumes and grains, still another “color” (carrots and so forth). And Jessica, as Founding President and Chairwoman for Life, can bring in whatever the hell she wants.

So far, so good. Better than good! I happily bought four avocados at a great price, knowing that they would not go to waste, and was thrilled to see garlicky carrots from Carey, along with her greens. We still have plenty of dressing. And I’ve already realized that this is a great way to use up that half-cup of leftover vegetables, or the mango chunks I didn’t feel like eating for breakfast, or the handful of just about anything that sounds good in a salad.

And did I mention it’s really, really cheap?

Basically, what we have here is stone soup. You probably remember the fable: A stranger comes to town and tricks/fools/persuades the villagers to add just a little something to the soup he’s making, which is a pot of water with a rock in it. A carrot here, an onion there, and pretty soon you’ve got something great that you’d never have had on your own.

So here’s my point: Maybe changing your habits isn’t about doing something huge. Maybe it’s about finding a way to take all the little bits of stuff that are almost working, and putting them together, and maybe even getting other people to join in, and encouraging one another, and tweaking the parts that don’t work and adding to the parts that do, and just doing something little every day.

And, next thing you know, you can’t imagine living any other way.

Headshot of Louise Kennedy

Louise Kennedy Contributor
Louise Kennedy previously worked with The ARTery and as editor of Edify.



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