Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

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.

Cows in Pasture by Lee Cannon via flickr

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.



6 Comments on Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

  1. Meagan
    April 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm (3 years ago)

    CSAs can be pricey up front. We used some of our tax refund last year to do it. If you want to do one next year, you could always start saving a bit now. We’ve found the 1/2 share to be enough, which is in the $300-400 range at most of the local CSAs.

    The CSA we’re doing this year has an egg share option, but a dozen a week is just a little too much (for a 1/2 share!).

    Of course, if we had to live on what I can grow, we’d starve.

    • Amber
      April 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm (3 years ago)

      I think I’m going to plan on doing a veggie CSA next year. I’m going to start with meat, I think. There’s a meat CSA I’d really like to get in with.

  2. Amanda C
    April 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm (3 years ago)

    Another option is to buy a plot at one of the community gardens around town. Of course, that’s more work for you, but at least you’d know what vegetables you’ll be getting, because you’ll be the one planting them. We’re still working out the details for the mom’s group garden plot, but if you want to get in on it, you’d just need to donate some seeds or plant starts and a little bit of your time to help keep it up. We’ll figure out how we’re dividing the harvest as we get into it.

    • Amber
      April 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm (3 years ago)

      I’m planting a veggie garden at home…or at least planning one. It may be next year before it really gets going though.

  3. Lady Jennie
    April 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm (3 years ago)

    There are stricter standards in France so I don’t worry about it too much. My goal is just to eat less … just less. That’s already hard enough for me/

    • Amber
      April 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm (3 years ago)

      Eating less. Yep, I need to work on that too. I made a fresh start today. We’ll see how long it lasts.


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