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.
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.
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?