You may have gathered from some of my recent posts that I am really thinking hard about how we eat.
This is something that I think about a lot, and my thoughts have gone in many different directions over time– how can I eat in a healthier way? How can I eat more cheaply? How can I encourage variety in my children’s diet? How can I teach them not to be controlled by my appetites? More recently, the question has been, How can we eat in a way that makes us healthy without exploiting others?
We rejoined our CSA after a two-year hiatus. It’s the third farm of which we’ve been members, and my favorite so far. We spent one day planting with other members in April… what hard work! We had a wonderful day, my children learning from other members’ children (lots of homeschoolers belong to the farm, it turns out!) about planting and geometry and water… and my legs and back ached for days. I have seen many young farm-workers (well, my age– I hope that’s still young) who feel and look like old people from long years of hard work… and now I have a new realization of how my purchasing habits have contributed to the problem.
Deep Economy and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (see more under book reviews) both highlighted the statistics: only 9 cents of every dollar spent on food in this country goes to the farmer (the rest goes to the distributors, packagers, transporters, and oil companies…), and the average meal on the dinner table traveled 1500 miles to get there. What? I feel pretty convicted about my small part in it all.
So we are going to be taking baby steps toward eating more locally. I’m not quite ready to declare myself a locavore, but I’m committed to asking God to open my eyes. Our first baby steps: eating seasonally for the rest of this year, and locally purchasing our produce from our farm (and growing a little, too). I have found a local (50 miles away) grain mill, so I’m going to contact them about buying our flour from them. I found a local source of oats (we eat a ton of oats) but they don’t "clean" the oats first… so I have to learn a little more about how to do that… and how to store larger amounts. My tea may not all be grown locally, but at least it’s packaged about 30 miles away, and I can obtain honey locally instead of sugar from across the continent. We have local sources for grass-fed beef, chickens, and eggs, and we already buy our milk fom a local dairy (and make our yogurt from it).
There are some things we eat a ton of that we’re not ready to give up: Bananas. Rice. Fresh fruit in the winter. Dunno how to get those locally… though I hear bananas may not be a transportable commodity after the banana-fungus makes it to Central America.
I think this will be a process for us of:
1) changing how I think about buying food (to value local– and small– farms/businesses over cheap ones)
2) researching specific sources of foods we eat
3) learning how to substitute (e.g., honey for sugar)