Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” outlines how something as simple as what we eat for dinner can have serious implications for all of us politically, economically, psychologically, and even morally. The book has inspired people all over America to change the way they eat; not just for their own health, but for the health of the earth and everyone who lives on it. And in my opinion, one of the simplest and most effective ways to change your eating habits is to become more aware of where your food is coming from: how its made, where its made, when its made, who makes it, and how all of these factors affect people, animals and the earth.
But enough about that. This blog isn’t some hippy-dippy space for me to rant about my causes. One of my biggest goals, though, is to eat fewer processed foods and really gain an understanding of where the food I eat comes from.
Eating locally is one of the easiest ways to do this. My boyfriend and I have started shopping at our local farmer’s markets. It’s amazing, really. Just this past Sunday, we bought most of our groceries for the week (fruits and veggies, meat, bread, spices, pasta, even soap!) directly from the farmer that grew them, the ranchers that raised them or the artisans that made them. We talked to all of these people and were able to ask questions about the food, what’s in it, and where it’s from. Try doing that at your neighborhood grocery store!
This “go local” craze seems like a walk in the park. Literally, the farmer’s market is at a park! In reality, though, it will take some serious effort to keep up this lifestyle. We went to the farmer’s market. We went to Whole Foods. We went to another local health food store. We went to our neighborhood grocery store. Then, after we got home, we went BACK to the grocery store in a mad dash, racing the countdown until dinner, to get items we had forgotten during our marathon grocery-shop! We’ll definitely need to work on our planning and organization skills to stick with this goal, because I can’t spend 3 hours grocery shopping every weekend.
Another obstacle is money. This stuff is NOT cheap. $7/lb for ground beef? But I can get it $2/lb at the grocery store! We’ve decided that we are definitely going to have to decrease the amount of meat we eat each week, which might pose a teeeeeny little problem for me: I am ALWAYS hungry. Protein is the thing that keeps me going between meals and snacks. I know there are alternative sources of protein. What are your favorites? Right now all I have are beans. Lots of beans. (And if you’re curious about why local/organic/natural foods are so much more expensive, I encourage you to watch the documentary Food, Inc.)
Now that I’ve bought all of my yummy local groceries to prepare delicious homemade meals, the HUGE question I’m asking myself is, “BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN I WANT TO GO OUT TO EAT?!?!”. I have no delusions about my goal. I know I wont be able to eat 100% local right from the start, or even years down the road. There are restaurants around that have a focus on local foods on their menus, but what about the ones that don’t? Should I feel like a hypocrite for eating at these places? Should I feel like I’m taking a step backwards from my eating-local lifestyle?
All you locavores out there: How do you do it (while keeping yourself sane)? I’ll keep you posted on my progress (which includes a soon-to-be-built square foot garden – keep an eye out for my next post!).