Friday, July 22, 2016

Mindful Living - Local Food

Chad and I have another step in our Mindful Living approach with thinking mindfully about where our food comes from.

Much of the food we eat here in the US that comes from the grocery store is grown and harvested in other countries, or in this country by factory farms.   Many of these businesses care nothing for our health, the health of their workers, or the environment. Over the last year I have gotten away from the local shopping I've done in the past. I stopped going to the Farmer's Market, and the majority of our food was purchased at the grocery store.  Instead of going to the little local store that buys only from small farms, I found myself in a big box store so I could buy everything at once at a cheaper price. Instead of stocking up on meat from the man down the road, I bought it in bulk at Sams. Instead of making my own breads, chicken broth, and snacks, I was buying pre-packaged versions from the store.  It was easier, I was lazy, and I didn't want to shell out the extra money or wake up early on a Saturday to go to the Farmer's Market.

Interestingly, my grocery bill increased last year.  By shopping at the big box stores I was throwing unnecessary things in my cart. Many of these things were not the healthiest...my waistline can attest to that. And in actuality many things were really not "cheaper"...just more convenient.

Just like my shopping for fewer, better things in my wardrobe, I can use that same approach to our food purchases. Below are some questions I can ask:

Do I need this item or do I have the mindless munchies? Can this be made at home? What is the environmental impact of buying this? Has the food been treated with mounds of pesticides or grown in factory farms?  Is the packaging that surrounds this item filling up the landfills with millions of pounds of waste per year? Can I buy this item or ingredients for this item from a local grower? If not, a local store?

Obviously, we cannot find everything we need from a local grower or store, but I can certainly find a lot more than I have been. Sometimes pre-package items must be bought to make a special treat or recipe.  But on a day-to-day basis? No.  During the summer, especially, much of what we eat can be found locally.

My 100% local meal!

One last aspect is the community you foster when shopping locally.  You know the grower by name and they know yours. They give you cooking tips when you are chatting at the market.  How often does that happen when checking out at the big box store?  Most days you don't get more than a "hello" and "thank you."  Community is something that has been lost in our country the last 100 years.

Now let me take a step and say, I am not shaming anyone who chooses to shop at discount stores instead of Farmer's Markets for their food. I know most people don't have time to make things from scratch.  I do though. This is MY conviction, not yours.  I hope by bringing awareness that more people will choose to shop local and ethical. Even if you just made the switch on one or two things, it would be a huge step in the right direction! But please know if you choose to shop at big chains exclusively I still love you! :-) You'll still occasionally find me in a big store, but I am hoping it will be a lot less.

So what does the title "Mindful Living" mean for me when it comes to food?   It means I choose to shop local for my food, support the local farmers, and the small, locally owned markets first.  With this switch, I won't be able to afford as much junk food or wine.  My waistline and doctor will be pleased. What I will gain is fewer, better, healthier things - fresh food that is lovingly tended and harvested by a neighbor who values his land and works to make less of an impact on our environment and a sense of community and partnership with these people as well.

My encouragement to you is to become aware of where you shop and the lives of the people who produce what you eat.  Learn the facts! Ask questions! Read books! Watch documentaries! Then, if you feel the conviction I have, make the switch.

2 comments:

  1. Teach me your ways!! No seriously, I need to start small (I'm still learning how to be a good grocery shopper and buy food for myself!) but I want to move toward eating local food!

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  2. My advice, just go to a farmer's market! Especially this time of year you can buy almost any meat or veggie possible that is grown in your area. The hardest part for me is eating seasonally. I need to get my fill of asparagus and strawberries in the spring, melons in the summer, apples in the fall, and so on.

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