Listening to an NPR segment yesterday about the tragedy (in my eyes… and the eyes of many) with Smithfield Ham , I came to one conclusion from the one detail that stood out to me the most. It wasn’t the CAFOs that are destroying the landscape and the identity of the animals inside them, it wasn’t the ignorance or inclination for us as a species to turn the other cheek on the thing that makes us human in all the best ways which also happens to be the exact thing that keeps us greedy and foul, it wasn’t the declining quality or the inferior taste or even the idea of shipping to a foreign nation who has much looser regulations and in turn may possibly lessen the structure of our very own laws that are meant to keep our environment somewhat intact, but a simple solid statement that hit home. That made me realize in order to reverse the madness, we do in fact have the power.
Americans spend 6% of their income on food.
I have long prided myself in spending $100 dollars a week on our grocery bill, which has been coming out to be much much more than 6% of our income. It has not been easy, and I will admit, with an honest heart, that I have inched it up a bit (but not much!) since moving to Vermont. The options around here are just too tempting to resist. I mean who could? Maple syrup in bulk? I simply fill my jug. I have no choice. Regardless, in order to maintain a local diet but keep a rational budget it is essential to write out a detailed list of what you will eat, what you need, the items in your pantry that need restocking. It is important to eat much less meat than you may be accustomed to. It is crucial to cook. Nothing complicated, but you just must do it. Everyday. Several times a day.
Simple meals are being forgotten. The tender lentil, the versatile black bean, the protein packed garbanzo all in their dried form cost less than two dollars a bag and will feed a family of four for days. Mix in the staples of life; garlic, good olive oil, vinager, eggs, crusty loaves of bread, and you are set. Last nights leftovers easily slide into this morning’s breakfast with only a slight tweak, todays lunch is simple with things already cooked up and supper can easily be transformed. Imagination and confidence are all that is necessary to proceed.
Eat this way and you will, not maybe, not hopefully, but you will be able to afford the only option for sustainability, which is eating local. As local as possible. For as much as possible of your entire diet. Without the efforts of all, the big greedy companies will win (though will they really?), and the rest of us will suffer immensely. Already our bee’s are ceasing to exist, our gardens are tainted with gmo’s that have had absolutely no worthy studies indicating that they are in fact safe for consumption for humans and animals and for our most precious family member of all: mother earth.
Make this choice. Eat local. Buy less clothes. Spend less on toys and other unnecessary goods packed into wal-marts and home depots. Save yourself from the average of 4% of your income going towards healthcare and eat real food! Real quality local food, prepared by a human. And if for no other reason do it because the taste is unequivocally superior. It is an effort. At first! But once you get in the groove, it’s no problem at all. You will be meeting friends at your csa, you will be comparing ways to shell your fava’s on a discussion board, you will be sampling your ruby red strawberries that are dangling from pots hung all over your porch, you will be tasting the broth you made from the succulent chicken down the road and a single tear will roll down your cheek and you will take a knee for it will be so damn delicious. Well, maybe thats just me. But, I promise it will become habit if nothing else.
Oh I am missing me some hale bopp… We must get our new coop in order! Buying eggs at the lawn mower shop, while they are fantastic, just isn’t the same…
I know I am not telling you anything new. Mostly this is a healthy reminder to myself to stay the course. I will admit it is quite easy in these parts to accomplish this goal, but I most certainly have lived where it took quite a bit of effort to find even the most basic ingredients within a reasonable radius. So, either way- happy eating to you, and good luck with whichever route you choose!