This blog posting seems to be the intersection of a number of different thoughts and challenges I have been facing lately. It is quite possible that it will have a rambling nature and for that I apologize in advance.
When I first started this project, I was adamant about going organic – all organic. No holds barred and I could not be assuaged. Then I called a local farmer (or a dozen local farmers) and talked. Talked for a long time about how the animals are raised, how the milk is processed, how the beef is butchered. I walked the fields. I touched the grass. And, I swung a little bit closer to the equilibrium between organic and local.
Next came a movie, Food Inc., that forever changed my viewpoint on the industrial nature of our food system (covered in my posting: Two Thumbs Up from Ferry & Ferry) and the environmental cost of eating food processed and grown using a big business mentality.
And, with that movie, I took a few more steps to the left (L for local).
A little later I read a book called the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (covered in my posting: Check these out, please). And, as May rolled around, this diehard organic girl adorned a pair of locavore goggles and my worldview.
So, here is where I am at: local is more important to me than organic, processed food. I want it fresh and I want to know who grew it (or raised it). I want to meet the animals, I want to walk the rows in the garden and I want breathe the air. I want to know more about my meal than what a list of ingredients provides and what the green organic stamp on the front refers to. As I dig deeper, I am more concerned about what these words on the boxes stand for. Organic doesn’t always represent what I picture. Free-range doesn’t necessarily involve the luxuriously room pens for chickens to roam in. But, my eyes don’t deceive me. What I can touch and feel are real. My senses and my intuition are my most reliable gauges and it is those that I am tuning into.
Yes, local is where my focus is shifting, but I am also realistic. My husband and I work full time. We have a toddler and pets to care for. And, a garden that flourished this season in a constant, ridiculous state of abundance. Oh, and, there are beehives to check, a house to clean, bills to pay. We are your typical family – busy. So, “fresh” and “local” don’t happen seven nights a week at our house. And, the cupboards do have shelves stocked with snack foods.
Meals made from scratch and using fresh ingredients that were picked up at the farmer’s market or purchased at the Co-Op do happen the majority of the week. But, on those never-fail-nothing-for-dinner kind of nights – we eat organic processed foods. The macaroni and cheese from Annie’s is free from any additives or colorings and the ingredients are organic. And, when we head out for dinner – we eat local and we patronize restaurants that serve fresh, in-season produce, meat and poultry. You simply will not find us in the drive-thru lane of a nationwide fast food chain. We’ll be hunkered in a booth at Fiamma Burger or guzzling beer and root beer at Boundary Bay.
We are trying to practice what we preach, but real life tends to throw a wrench in the best-laid plans ever too often. In no uncertain terms will I choose to support a food ideal that doesn’t immediately put money back into the economy of the Pacific Northwest. We are blessed to live in a Mecca of natural resources and have a veritable bouquet of local resources at our every whim. And, I will never underestimate the value of an honest conversation with the man or woman butchering my turkey, growing my spinach or milking my cow.
We are what we eat and where we eat.
Early I mentioned that this posting was an intersection of sorts – a place where the paths of thought and decision crossed. As I wrote this I found myself maniacally stopping to scratch notes because a detour thought would wander through my consciousness and I wanted to take a fork in the road. But, I remained focused and opted to come back to the deviations.
I suppose this posting it is best titled “Organic vs Local: Chapter One” or finished with a cliff hanger of To Be Continued…
Chapter Two: Looking at local: Getting to Know Your Food
Chapter Three: Back to Reality: Where To Eat When Out and About
Chapter Four: Who knows?