I am currently reading Animal Vegetable Miracle, and I’m enjoying it very much. It is so inspiring. Of course in my all or nothing mind I’m trying to figure out how we can eat only locally grown/raised food, but then I realized that even small changes can be huge.
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend the book, but I’ll give you the basics. One family moves to a farm and learns how to eat locally. Everything they eat must be in season and grown/raised in their county.
Why would they want to do this?
To become more self sustaining, as well as decreasing the amount of fossil fuel used in their food ie. transportation, pesticide, herbicide, etc. It also helps build the local community to buy locally which has many benefits. (If these topics are of interest to you I highly recommend Animal Vegetable Miracle. It’s a great read, and very informative)
While not everyone may be up for eating completely local here are a few things you can do to eat more locally and be more self sustaining without moving your family to a farm in Kentucky.
1. Find a farmer’s market.
They are all the rage these days, and you will find the best food there. It will all be local and most of it will probably be organically grown. (but check first if this is important to you).
When I was in college I lived on Union Square Park in New York City. Every Saturday in the Spring and Summer there was a huge farmer’s market in the park. Oh what wonderful food we found. Honey, Nuts, Fruits, Vegetables, Homemade Breads… just about anything you could want to eat you could find.
Now I’m in rural Kansas, and we have a farmer’s market in the closest little town. We also have a vegetable stand a ways down the road, and in there’s also a farmer’s market every Saturday in Wichita ~ which is a bit of a drive, but still viable.
I’m pretty sure you can find a farmer’s market near you, no matter where you live. You can always check at www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets to see if you can find something close by.
2. Eat fast food less
Did you know McDonald’s is the biggest user of beef in this country? Did you know that becasue McDonald’s wants all their burgers all across the country to taste the same they make people raise cows a specific way, and eat the same thing so they will all taste the same ~ and grass is NOT part of the food supply for these cows.
Not eating at McDonald’s even a little less will help.
3. Grow your own food
Any food that has to be shipped uses fossil fuels to get where you are. You have no idea what was put on that vegetable, where it was grown or how. Even the label “organic” can be a little misleading as huge corporations are now in the “organic” game and are gaming the system to make it cheaper and easier to product organic food ~ which makes them not exactly organic ~ but organic enough to get a sticker when looking at the letter of the law, but not necessarily the “spirit” of the law.
I’m not saying you have to grow ALL your own food, but why not grow some? Almost all varieties of veggies now have “patio” varieties that will happily grow in a pot on a porch with some sun. Herbs will grow in small containers on a windowsill. You really don’t need acres of land to grow at least some of your own food.
4. Only eat what’s in season.
We’ve become a culture of people who don’t even know there is a “season” for vegetables. Yeah, cucumbers in Jan and Feb in Kansas means you have to truck them in from somewhere else. Somewhere warm, and sunny ~ no where near here. The farther it gets trucked the more fuel is used to get it to you, and the earlier they have to pick the fruit to get it to you in good shape. The earlier they have to pick the fruit the less ripe it is, the less ripe it is the more chemical ripening needs to be done.
If you decided to eat what is in season for only a couple meals a day you could make a huge difference.
5. Ask your grocer where the local produce is.
Grocery stores ~ including big name stores like Walmart carry what people buy. (why do you think Walmart now stocks organic produce and dairy products? ~ because there was a demand). You can also demand or at least request more local produce of your grocer.
Unless people start requesting local product your grocer will not know there is a demand for it, and will never even think to stock it ~ it’s more complicated than just shipping from big suppliers, but if the demand is there, you can make it happen.
So you see ~ I haven’t asked you to turn your whole life upside down. It’s not an all or nothing thing. Just one meal at a time, think about what you’re cooking, what you’re eating, what you’re buying. The closer to you it grew the better. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen all at once, but if we all start making more sustainable choices it will add up and add up quick.