I like, no, love food. All of it. Big juicy steaks fresh off the grill. Cookies warm out of the oven. Still steaming asparagus spears. Salads heaped with mozzarella cheese balls and cherry tomatoes.
And for a long time, I didn’t worry much about where my meals had been. I didn’t care who my cows had been sharing their beds with or what drugs my broccoli had be been shooting up. It never even occurred to me that my food’s poor habits (while alive) would impact me once it was dead and digested.
It’s true what they say. Ignorance is bliss.
Now I know how the industrial food machine is robbing us of essential nutrients, siphoning the taste from our food, and pumping us full of toxins. I know how sad the lives are of animals caught in the system. And how dangerously genetically similar our produce is.
It’s bad news bears, people.
If you live in a city, it probably seems a little like your hands are tied. There aren’t any farms around you. You’re kind of stuck with what the supermarkets have to offer.
But I have no such excuse.
I pass three cow pastures and countless fields of growing things every day…and that’s just on my way to work.
Many of those fields are no doubt part of the industrial complex. But I also happen to live in a college town. And college towns? Attract the “hippie set” like hipsters to a trendy thrift shop.
Say what you will about hippies, but they’re way ahead of the rest of us when it comes to things like caring for the earth, staying away from industrial chemicals, and living off the land around them.
Not surprisingly, many of those crunchy types have adopted (or returned to) the farming lifestyle. We have a thriving farmer’s market. More fruit and vegetable CSAs than you can shake a stick at. And a number of meat and poultry farms that invite you to coo at the kid goats in the pasture…and then cook up a tasty chevron for dinner.
It’s a different way of life around here, people. Or, at least, it can be.
So now that my eyes are open, now that I know how badly the things I’m ingesting could be harming me and mine, how can I continue to shop the Kroger without worry?
I mean, yeah, I try to buy organic (although that’s a recent development). And I generally shop the perimeter, minimizing the amount of processed garbage we eat (at least when we’re cooking for ourselves). But still.
None of the food I buy there comes from here. My strawberries are from California. My tomatoes are from Mexico. And my chicken? Well, I don’t even know where that comes from. Mars, maybe?
I feel we should start shopping (and eating) locally.
I wonder how much better we might start to feel.
And I really, really wonder how we could possibly afford to do it.
Those CSAs? You have to pay cash up front. A lot of cash. And the farmer’s market? It’s at least triple the price of your average grocery store.
What’s a budget-minded mama supposed to do?
Really. What should we do?
I’ve started a small veggie patch. And I intend to plant more veggies in with my perennial gardens. That way, if we have another drought, I can still water (two birds, one stone).
But that won’t be nearly enough.
So, I’m looking for ideas. Anybody else out there worried? Or better yet, worried and broke? What have you decided to do about it? I’m all ears.