Food has been a huge issue with me for decades now. Having children will also put a new spin on food conscientiousness. The city I live in can be very proactive in the local food movement and after we bought a house five years ago I decided to start a garden. This was more for practical reasons than from the ‘eating local’ perspective. I saw having a lawn without growing food as being a huge waste of space for me personally, plus we were so very poor and paying for organic produce was just breaking us. So I researched and worked VERY hard to make our garden happen. I now grow several varieties of veggies and even some fruit. The more I became involved with the food we ate the more fascinating food became to me. My husband and I have read a lot of books on the food system and seen quite a few movies dedicated to exposing the wickedness of huge agribusiness. So… more thinking about food.
For years our family has eaten meat but I’ve been very lean (no pun intended) on how much meat we eat mainly because I shudder to think of where it comes from, how it was raised and then the procedure of getting it onto my table. So black beans have been our family staple for a few years now. Then last summer I decided that I wanted to go straight to the source of where our food comes from and buy directly from them. We live in a great farming state so there are a lot of local family run farms to choose from, tons of CSA programs and a farmer’s market located somewhere all over the city each day of the week. We also have one of the nation’s best and biggest weekly farmer’s market. Whoop-Whoop!
Seeing animals roam free, being cared for and, the biggest thing for me, allowed to be healthy was a huge deciding factor for me in buying meat from our local farmers. We now try to buy farm-to-table as much as possible. We even found an amazing farm that sold raw milk, cheeses, butter, beef, pork, eggs…. Since we aren’t going to invest into buying a city cow to grace in our 30 sq ft yard anytime soon we buy from a local farm. I have to say that I understand the vegetarian decision that is based on health and humane reasons. Feed lots are generally despicable, unhealthy, and completely profit driven. For years we were almost a vegetarian family for those reasons.
After we’ve visited the farms I was pretty certain the I found a sustainable, healthy and humane option for our family. I firmly believe in supporting local farms! It’s great for the economy, for the environment and grass fed, pastured roaming animals are so much healthier. And while I totally understand someone’s decision to still remain vegetarian, even in the light of this particular argument, my conscience is clean about how I feed my family.
We also eat as seasonally as we can but I’m still visiting the grocery store to purchase my wheat flour to make my bread and I even buy the occasional avocado in February to make guacamole. Baby steps! But we do most of our veggies out of the garden and now about 80% of our meat is from the farm. We were even getting our milk from the farm until “the man” came and busted them for selling raw. We live in The Dairy State but you can’t buy or sell raw milk. Go figure!
If you are interested in eating more locally and sustainably here are just a few places to start:
Buy straight from the farm (A great way to get to know where your food comes from and develop relationships in the community….you may even be able to barter)
Plant a garden (Even if you only have a small bit of space try some tomatoes or just greens. Start small and get hooked on organic produce-power to the people!!!)
Shop at a co-op and buy local and seasonal (This is my least favorite option because they tend to be pricey and a bit elitist. Hey, I’m being honest. But if you can’t do any of the above this place can help you out)
Pick your own (berries and other produce) in the summer and then freeze what you get to enjoy all winter.
Finally, if you can’t do any of the above mentioned, find your nearest wild bull, wrestle it to the ground with your bare hands, kill it and eat its heart raw! Repeat as necessary! (sorry, no link for that one)
Here’s to the whole of life! Food, health, community, family, faith and love!