Last August, overwhelmed with the bounty available at the farmer's markets, I vowed to dedicate a month this summer to eating only local food. Well, life happens. When this August rolled around I was still really interested in the idea, but with a busier schedule than ever looming ahead of me, I knew a month-long venture wasn't in the cards. Yet every spring I'm practically giddy for this time of the year, so I don't want to let this abundance pass me by.
Let's rewind. Three summers ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Omnivore's Dilemma
and they truly changed the way I ate. Rather quickly, I stopped buying
processed 'diet' foods and started buying whole foods. Local and
organic? Even better!
That summer, I made my first solo trip to the farmer's
market and with one bite of a local Texas Cannonball watermelon, I was
sold. Local food tastes better.
It supports the local economy. It decreases dependance on fossil fuel. I
could honestly write a thesis on this, but I won't (hmmm can I somehow
relate this to my nursing education thesis? Just kidding... maybe.)
two books opened my eyes to the rather freeing idea that food could be
friend and not foe. The following summer, I finally read In Defense of Food
which was almost a synthesis of Pollan's previous book and the logic
behind Kingsolver's autobiographical novel. Since then, Ross and I have
gone to countless farmer's markets and joined 2 different CSAs.
summer, I still wanted to try to go just one week without depending on
the grocery store. I figured spices and tea have been traded for
centuries, so we would keep those. But we could otherwise live on all
things local for a week! Ross hesitantly agreed that it would be a fun
challenge. We're one day in and it has been fantastically stressful. I
mean, our lives are already fantastically stressful right now, so I'm
not sure why I decided to throw a wrench in and change everything about
our eating habits for a week. Because that's never stressful.
Actually, I know why I threw it in the mix. It's because I
honestly didn't think it would be that different. I already buy and
consume a boatload of farmer's market produce each week. A few tweaks
here and there, and it won't be too different. I conveniently forgot
that I'm gluten intolerant. I would love to get a loaf of bread from a
local bakery or, better yet, buy a bag of locally grown and ground flour
from Badseed and make my own bread for the week. And pancakes for
breakfast. And muffins for snacks! This challenge wouldn't be difficult
at all. Those recipes all just need some combination of flour, eggs,
butter, and honey, all of which can be found from local sources.
With gluten out, I decided to adapt my favorite cornbread recipe
and indeed, I made a decent cornbread muffin with all local ingredients.
Success! But I ate one and got a stomachache. I figured it was a fluke
and tried it again the next day: stomachache. Ross was totally fine, so I
figured the culprit was the local milk (I normally use coconut milk
with this recipe). I guess I can no longer stomach dairy even in baked
goods. And when you eliminate the local milk, yogurt, and cheese that's
available, you basically have a lot of meat and veggies left. Which is
fine. Great, actually. I feel best when I eat lots of veggies and
protein. But OMG.we.are.so.busy. I'm used to bringing weird lunches to
work, but this is a less traditional work week and I didn't want to cart
around 5 tupperwares of finicky food to my STABLE class or to my new
clinical site with its unfamiliar routines and break rooms.
All that babbling to say, I stand corrected. Eating locally is
harder than it looks. We actually did spend a little less on groceries
this week, but it's going to take A LOT more time to prepare all this
food. Historically, leaving the farm and working away from home
certainly fueled the move toward convenience foods and now, more than
ever, I understand why. While I don't eat many 'convenience' foods like
Hot Pockets (but yum) and Hostess cupcakes, I have underestimated the
convenience of oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, nut butter on a spoon
for a quick snack, and (gluten-free) pasta for an easy dinner on a busy
It's been humbling to realize I rely more on 'the system' than I
originally thought. Nonetheless, I remain more committed than ever to
supporting local farmers who still want to make fresh food available and
accessible in this economy.