What Local Food Has Done For Me

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The other day I realized I never posted a conclusion to my Eat Local Challenge I had in March. Although at the time I chalked it up to laziness busyness, the real reason smacked me right in the face as I was wandering around the farmer’s market on Saturday.

My challenge is still ongoing.

At the end of the month I didn’t really stop eating local and go back to eating beef chubs and apples imported from Argentina. Granted, my diet is still a work in progress as I attempt to overcome my addiction to refined sugars and carbs, but I’ve made leaps in my progress, and I have local food to thank. Not just for my diet itself, but for improving my life in multiple ways.

CSA delivery #5

1) I’ve come to love things I assumed I would hate

In 2003 I had eggplant for the first time, served up in the traditional, “We’re vegetarians but we have meat-eating guests (that would be me) coming over” method of eggplant Parmesan. Let’s just say it did nothing to turn my favor toward eggplant. Which is why I was apprehensive about the eggplant we began receiving in our CSA box last year. With a CSA you are practically forced to cook what they give you. Turns out? I love eggplant!

Raw whole milk. It still freaks people out to hear those words. Except those of us in the know. I was a freaked person before I went to the Stryk Dairy and tasted their amazing milk. Now we only have raw milk at home.

OK, I never technically hated tomatoes, but I wasn’t a big fan. Maybe it was due to growing them in my own yard or just figuring out how to cook with them, but tomatoes are up there with eggplant. Once I learned how to cook a simple sauce with tomatoes, onions, and cream? Sold forever.

2) I feel healthier.

People who are trained on the Standard American Diet would be shocked that I feel healthier on a diet filled with whole milk, sausages, bacon, and eggs. I’ve actually always been rather healthy overall – chalk up good genes to not having problems with blood pressure or cholesterol despite a lifetime of junk food – but now that I’m eating less processed food it feels like a full body health. Even when I get sick I bounce back quickly.

3) My pantry is stocked.

Granted, this is partly due to my obsession with jam, but I think I wouldn’t have cultivated that obsession if I didn’t have such a bounty surrounding me. I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy jam or tomato sauce again.

4) I have a sense of connection

I might not know everyone I see at the farmers’ markets, but I feel connected to them. I recognize the farmer’s I buy my food from. I’ve been to a few of the farms. I know exactly where and to whom my money is going.

I’ve also met an incredible group of people whom I now consider my friends on account of local food. If you’ve never been to Austin, the food community here is incredibly warm, supportive, and fun. People don’t necessarily think of Austin as a food mecca, but I believe it is. If I ever leave, I’ll only try to replicate what we have here.

5) I see all my food through new eyes.

I can taste the difference between a local strawberry fresh picked, and a berry flown in from California. I know the beauty of a farm egg. When my friends left some big-name bacon at our house the other day, I was stunned by how different it tasted compared to the local bacon we buy. At this point I shouldn’t be, but perhaps the reason I’m stunned is because I know how truly good food can be, and what we get in the grocery stores is a pale shadow of that.

Farm eggs

It’s not like I’m perfect in my food habits. I’m still a work in progress, like everyone else on this planet. Maybe what I’m saying is propaganda. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Michael Pollan. But I know my experience.

Do you eat local food? Why or why not? Do you think I’m crazy?

11 Comments

  1. Nice to read that the challenge challenged you. Your attitude in your blog gave me the impression you’ve always been spot on with your consumption habits. Good to know refined foods can be purged from a way of life, slowly but surely.

    Sounds like I’m on my high horse I guess. But what I’m trying to say is that your writing and posts have had me trying recipes and enjoying new things. Your blog is now a go to resource for me. The canning posts alone are worth it!

    I eat local all the time. One thing I still can’t eat though are the local apricots. I know, silly huh? The valley here used to be the heart of California Apricot country, and you could throw a rock and hit an apricot tree. I worked a summer in the fields and now that experience has put me off apricots – fresh ones – I still love the jam! My husband loves them and is planting the pits from every local apricot this year in anticipation of having a few CA Apricots on our ranch in AZ. Hope!

    1. @Robyn,
      Thank you! I’ve actually only been focused on eating this way since last year, and really into it this year. I do still eat the occasional processed food, but I’m trying hard to get it out of my and my family’s life.

      I’m just warming up to stone fruits – I don’t think I’ve ever bought an apricot. I can see why you’d be avoiding them for a while!

  2. I don’t think you’re crazy at all, because if you’re crazy, then I’m right there with you. I do my very best to eat as many whole, local foods as possible and I always feel better when I do. That said, I do occasionally turn a blind eye to the scrambled eggs I can buy from my workplace’s cafeteria. The eggs are poured from half gallon cartons into the frying pan. Terrible, and yet so convenient.

  3. We’re kindred spirits and I kind of hate you for being so close to Stryk. My friend who was bringing me milk from there has been spending more time working on the farm (Revival Meats) lately (which you REALLY should do one of your profiles on!) so hasn’t had as much time to mess with things like bringing me milk. 😛 Small sacrifice for some gorgeous local pork (and soon lamb and beef).

    I really should start taking pictures of my market haul each week. Maybe it would inspire people.

  4. We eat only locally too and we love it. I love cooking so much more when it’s with local, seasonals stuff. Our favorite part of every weekend is going to three farmers’ markets, coming home and laying everything out on our kitchen table, then trying to decide what to do with it all. It’s so inspiring! We usually take pictures of our market haul and the meals we plan to make too (although we sometimes forget) and post them at our blog under our Weekly Meals category.

  5. Very well said. 🙂 On a trip to the Provence region of France, we fell in love with the idea of browsing local markets for produce, linens and cheese. On Saturday mornings, I try to relive that feeling at home. When we can, we buy from the farmers and the cheese makers. We supplement with what we’re growing in our backyard.

    In a pinch, we’ll run down to the local market for dairy products – milk, butter, cream. And maybe olive oil. But mostly, we’re going local, and we’re going fresh for the rest.

    It’s a rustic kind of lifestyle, but we love it. 🙂

    [K]

    P.S. My strawberries are growing about 15 feet from where I’m sitting. You can’t beat that taste!!!!

  6. I have been wanting to go this route for a few years now. I am not the best cook, nor the most creative with food. But I am trying. I have been very happily reading your blog… finding the recipes and ideas about how to do simple things with food to be really refreshing.

    I’ve always been a gardener – practically genetic in my family. Strangely, I’ve never grown vegetables until recently. And I’ve been wanting a chicken coop for a couple years now. This winter I intend to build one.

    I think I read somewhere else in one of your posts that you had a hard time dragging your spouse this way? (Or maybe it was another blog?) In any event, my wife and stepdaughter seem to be the biggest obstacles to making fundamental changes in how we get our food and eat. They want quick comfort foods, and don’t generally have an issue with mass-produced food.

    If it was you who had the heel-dragging spouse, how has that gone? How has it changed your family?

    1. @Marc,
      Thanks for the kind words!

      My husband is sort of resistant because he wants certain things when he wants them, you know? He knows how much better the local food is, but he still doesn’t see the problem in going to eat fast food or buying hot dogs. Luckily my son is only 2.5 so he doesn’t care as long as there is something to eat. It also sort of helps (haha) that my husband really doesn’t cook so I’m in charge of the kitchen. I do think our meals have been a little nicer because of the work that I put into them, and then when we sit down to eat it is more fulfilling.

  7. I think that everyone should read this post! Eating local is about so much more than… well… eating local. It’s about really eating! And I think that everyone who starts down the path learns something new. One of the things I absolutely love about eating more locally is the intentionality in it — which you definitely hit upon here. Food is so much more enjoyable when the focus is on a few simple fresh ingredients!

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