Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby Steps


I’ve said before that I think one of the dangers in a major lifestyle change (particularly one involving something as basic as food) is that it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew...so-to-speak. Sustainable change comes in small increments. If you try to do too much at once, you’re almost certainly dooming yourself to failure. It was during a conversation like this with some friends that they asked me to recommend some steps to take. Steps that have been helpful to me over the last two years as I’ve gradually made whatever progression I’ve made. Let me again offer my disclaimer that I would not presume to tell anyone what to do or how to live when it comes to food. I am only sharing what I’ve found to be helpful for me, and I am still learning a lot every day. If you feel like taking some next steps in your own life, maybe these will be helpful.

Step One: Watch the movie “Food Inc.” It’s a fairly entertaining, clever documentary on the food system in America. It’s as unbiased as I think it’s possible to be, but it provides a pretty good luck at where we’ve come from and where we’re going. It’s a good starting point.

Step Two: Stop eating fast food. Honestly, if you do step one, this probably won’t be that tough. I know that it’s not always possible or practical...but as much as possible, pass on the fast food. We’ll all be better for it.

Step Three: Plant a garden. It doesn’t need to be big. It could be in containers on your porch or patio...but plant a garden. Something that you can harvest at some point to eat. This was really helpful in my understanding where food really comes from and how it’s really produced. I also found it to be a great learning tool for my kids, who now know that tomatoes don’t come from Meijer. Plus...the difference in taste will knock your socks off.

Step Four: Change you eggs. The system required to produce eggs for $.79 a dozen is pretty scary. There is a decent article about it here: 

For most families who go through somewhere around a dozen eggs a week, the financial cost in switching to organic cage-free eggs is somewhere around $4 a week. Even less if you find a local farmer to buy your eggs from

Step Five: Bake bread. There seems to be a mis-perception that bread-baking is too difficult and/or time consuming. Both untrue. This is a great way to begin to produce your own food at home, having full control of everything that is going into it. It’s much better for you (particularly if you choose to use whole grains) and it tastes WAY better. Here’s a great book to get started:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312362919?ie=UTF8&tag=arbrinfimiada-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0312362919

Step Six: Spend more time (and money) at your farmer’s market. I used to go the farmers market because it was fun in the same way that going to a fair or a carnival was fun. It’s a large gathering and it’s a trendy place to hang out. Once in a while we would buy some of our stuff there, but I didn’t really buy in. The truth is that buying your seasonal produce from a local producer does more than give you better broccoli and tastier tomatoes. It supports the local growers who have made it a point to opt-out of the mass produced food system. It also saves tons of fuel that is needed to ship produce from California, Mexico and wherever else it’s coming from. Every dollar that you can give to a local grower instead of the grocery store is an investment in the future of the sustainable food movement. Even better look into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with one of the local farms. This is a system where you pay a fee for a share of the farm and every week you get a box of all the different things that are currently being grown at that farm. It’s a great deal.

Step Seven: Analyze. By this point, you’ll be getting a pretty good idea of works for you and what doesn’t and what you’re led and compelled to do. Analyze your food choices. Are there things you’re buying on a regular basis that you can get in a better way by buying local or organic. How much processed food is going through your household? Are there places where that can be trimmed? This is where the lifestyle really takes shape, because you begin deciding what’s important and what’s not in a way that tends to last.

What other steps would you ad?
Good luck...

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