Today’s challenge: Food.
I love food.
I love local food. I adore the Farmer’s Market, the sense of community, talking with those dedicated folks who eschew the big bucks in lieu of a more meaningful life. People with amazing knowledge and tough jobs--sustaining our families with fresh, healthy, drug-hormone-pesticide-free food.
I grow heirloom vegetables. Take a look at one day’s harvest this summer:
I sell heirloom vegetable plants. I’m a composting, seed-obsessed former PR girl turned farmer-wanna be. So today’s challenge to eat locally was a piece of cake, right?
More like a Twinkie.
Here’s what the Adolfs ate today:
- Farm-fresh, free-range organic eggs--the yolks for the dogs, the white for us. So far, so good.
- Biscuits. Before you nominate me for Mom-of-the-Year, you need to know--they were from a can. Pillsbury. I'm not sure how many miles those biscuits traveled, but they sure weren’t from around here. (“I know where my breakfast came from,” said Peter. “Our oven. How much more local can it be?” Ha, ha...what a funny guy.) I suppose we could have gone to Krispy Kreme, watched them make donuts, and eaten them “Hot and Ready Now.” Our breakfast would have been just as local, I suppose...maybe more so.
- Pear for Kristen. Not local, I’m sure--although it was from our local Publix.
- Diet Coke for me...yep, still haven’t kicked the habit, but I haven’t gone back to the wicked cans.
- Sliced cheddar cheese--nope, not local.
- Cookies...damn, there’s that Pillsbury again.
- Cheez-Its. Now, that’s healthy.
- Applesauce in a plastic cup for Kristen, mixed fruit for Michael.
- Not one bite of local food in those lunch boxes.
- Wednesdays are our “lunch dates”--I work with him at our company in the a.m. while Mikey’s at preschool, then we go out for lunch. We really tried to find a restaurant serving local food. Really. Instead, we ate at a new Mediterranean place, Sahara. Nothing local there, but it was yummy. Lamb, hummus, rice...mmmmm.
- Leftover homemade apple pie made with (you guessed it) Pillsbury Crust. Fortunately, the apples originated at Nivens’ Apple Farm, only about 10 minutes from our house. Whew.
- Yes, you read that right--big, fat, greasy cheeseburgers, hotdog for Mikey, chicken tenders for Kristen. Fries for all.
Just this week, I bragged about my homemade pesto created from the last of our basil. I’ve made three batches of tomato sauce from our more than 80 heirloom tomato plants. I shop at the Farmer’s Market. I search out local producers, we pick berries and freeze them, I drive to Woodruff for free-range chicken and eggs, I own a food mill, for goodness sakes! How did we screw up so badly today?
Here’s my epiphany:
It’s hard work to eat locally.
I hate to admit it, but it’s true. You need to get your butt out of bed on Saturday mornings to visit the Farmer’s Market. You must learn to cook seasonal food--some of which might be outside your comfort zone. Did I know how to cook Thai eggplant before my farmer friend gave me some tips? Nope, I didn’t even know what that funky little veggie was.
If you’re not a vegetarian--and we’re omnivores at our house--you need to track down local providers of sustainably raised, humanely treated, drug-free meat...and not think too much about those chickens looking at you. You’ll also be shelling out more money for this food. The good news is--your local farmer actually gets to keep some of this money to reinvest in sustainable farming, rather than your money disappearing into the mega agri-corporations that shortchange farmers and hire lobbyists so they can continue to produce sub-par food.
Once you’ve gathered your produce and hunted for your meat--you’re still not done.
You have to cook it. You need to create a meal.
We are creatures of convenience. It’s become a necessity. Most families consist of dual career parents with kids that are scheduled to the max--schoolwork, soccer, ballet, piano, religion classes, baseball, football, volunteering...it’s a finely-oiled family machine that ensures everyone gets to their activities on time. Of course, it’s easier to eat at Fuddrucker’s after a busy day of work, piano lessons for two, horseback riding for one...especially when riding ends at 7 p.m. Should we head home (a 40-minute drive), start preparing a lovely, locally produced meal and feed the kids at 8:30 or 9 p.m...or cram some crap into them so they can get to bed at a decent time?
Well. You know our decision.
I’m not proud of us today. The thing is--I only work outside our home one morning per week. Sure, I have plenty of work with my heirloom plant business, but at least I’m home--where I can multitask, cooking local food while ordering seeds. I can get the family fed with healthful, local food and still get the kids in bed before midnight.
I have the time to hunt and gather.
Still, I remember too well the stress of working full-time and trying to feed a picky-eater. Tyler’s diet during those days consisted of hot dogs, Kraft Macaroni-and-Cheese (in various shapes for variety, like Pokemon), and chicken nuggets. Oh--and ketchup. Surprisingly, he turned out to be a pesto-eating, bruschetta-loving healthy young adult.
I suppose the point to this rambling is...
We’re having a do-over. Tomorrow. We’re going to eat locally if it kills us. As my faithful sidekick (aka husband) pointed out today, we’re taking part in the No Impact Experiment for a year, not just this week. Hopefully, Wednesdays will be our only blip in the local-food endeavor. Also, we’re just muddling through and trying our best.
Today wasn’t our best effort. But it’s life. We’ll be better tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow--I’m going to post some terrific local producers for you to check out. Some you can meet at the Hub-City Farmer’s Market, some you need to take a field-trip to find...but you’ll be glad you did! If you are ga-ga over certain local farmers, please share your faves here!