Livin' La Vida Locavore.

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I'm a reader.  For all those who know me, that's a BIT of an understatement.

I devour words.  Yes, that's more like it.  I read everything.  Articles, newspapers, magazines, blog posts, fiction/non-fiction books upon books upon books (even chick-lit, yeah I go there and, gasp, like it). 

I read it all.

Normally I tend to prefer fiction, there is nothing like diving headfirst into other worlds- worlds more romantic than stark fact, truth, black and white, realism, bleh.  I tend to like wordy Brit lit (think Austen, Dickens, etc) and dark, ominous plots n' settings (think Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights).  I'm broody.  But I also enjoy uplifting, go-get-'em books and everything in between.

I normally hate investigative journalism. 

Hate. It.  I will partake if someone forces me with duct tape and an uzi (or an "F" grade...I had many college profs who thrived on endless fact drones who made their money off undecipherable citations...), but normally I will never, NEVER go near anything close to it.

I don't like fear-mongers.  I dislike when someone spews facts at me in order to stir up terror or worry.  Because, well, I am a worrier and, darn it, if I don't have to worry I ain't gonna.  There's enough to worry about in this world, especially as a mother of two darling little boys.  No, I will not take an optional side of worry, thankyouverymuch.

However.

When it comes to food, I devour (not literally) every piece of info I possibly can.  Why?  Because I eat food.  It affects me.  I want to know about it.  If it's going into my body, become- literally- a part of me, I feel I should have some knowledge of what that substance is and how it might benefit or hurt me.

I want to know what's in my food. Every. Single. Molecule.  Where did those ingredients come from?  How did they get here?  How were they grown/raised?  What sort of effort was involved in the whole process?  Who am I supporting by purchasing it?

Yeah.  I want to know it all.

I'm inspired by people like Rick Bayless, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, and now....Barbara Kingsolver.

Google 'em, you'll be glad you did.

Barbara, whom you may know from such famous novels as The Poisonwood Bible, The Prodigal Summer, and The Bean Trees, recently published her own personal memoir, this book:



Entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Kingsolver and husband Steve, along with their two daughters decided to spend one full year living entirely off what they could grow themselves on their Viginia farm, and/or what could be purchased from local growers within a nearby radius.  If the food wasn't from those parts, or out of season, they didn't eat it.

Period.

Inspiring much?  Yeah.  Talk about rough.  It doesn't sound SO bad until you actually read what they had to give up.  It really makes you think twice about how far food goes to get to your plate and the ridiculous means by which we go about getting the food we crave.

But most of us, myself included, often don't dwell on our food origins.  We grab that box of chicken broth from the soup section, or that ground beef from the meat counter, or those strawberries (in January!) from the produce section, and not even THINK about how they got there.  It's a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  We don't want to know and ignorance is bliss.  Or we just don't care. 
But man- if we knew how those chickens or that cow lived (or was slaughtered, or what they were fed) to give us our broth and beef, would we think differently?  Or if we realized how many pesticides/herbicides were involved (and fuel use/costs) to get those strawberries all the way from who knows where, in the middle of winter, to our flourescent-lit fruit section- would we think differently??

Some yes, many maybe, most no.  People don't care.

Or do they?

I do!  I do!  Pick me!  :)

I care.  As we all should.  It just doesn't seem natural or wise to have no involvement or understanding of the foods we consume every single day.  We are nutty to assume that if it says "all-natural" or "organic" or "whole-grain" or "full of fiber!" or whatever other assurances marketers use, that it's "good" for us.

Are we really that clueless?  I sure hope not.  Check yourself though- have you ever bought something just because it says "double-fiber!!" or "all-natural!" or "no high-fructose corn syrup!".  I have.  OFTEN.  But I don't really think what that means or whether the methods of actually producing the good were worthy of entering my body.

It's scary when many other countries' (France, Britain for example) national food administrations don't allow 70% or so of the chemicals and modified food products in their foods that we here in the USA do.  Why does our FDA allow these products while other nations ban them?  Because we have a very corporate-friendly government who is very much on the side of big business, huge profit margins, and, well, cheap and easy mass-production- at the expense of it's inhabitants.  But let's not have that discussion, shall we?  I could go on for hours and I already type too much!

This is something I'm very much passionate about and I feel many are simply in the dark.  But Barbara shares it all with poise and matter-of-fact prose.  She isn't fear-mongering, she doesn't incite fear or place blame, she simply tells it like it is and encourages others to learn more.  Her book is a healthy (literally) mix of investigative unveiling, gardening tips, knowledge of plants and seeds, and nutritional information about various vegetables and fruits.  It's a page-turner in ways many other informative books are not.  She isn't a fact drone, spewing statistics at the reader, but a passionate advocate on the side of farmers, locavores, and those interested in supporting folks a little closer to home.  It's a refreshing read.  And GET THIS- Are you ready?  Really, are you prepared?  [Moment of silence]...my husband is reading it.  And likes it. 

[Shockwaves]

Yeah.  He's even laughed out loud a few times.  And he is a man who has a strong affinity for Little Debbie products- cakes that have a phenomenal shelf life, almost disturbingly so.  He's getting something out of the book and is becoming more interested in the whys and hows of our nation's food.  If he can do it, anybody can.

Does this mean I'm going to give up all indulgences in the form of who-knows-what's-in-it?  No way.  Starbucks white mocha syrup is my crack.  Did I say that out loud?  We all have to have something that can't be justified!  I may or may not have had wasted ample amounts of gas to drive MILES out of my way just to indulge in a grande-iced coffee-no classic syrup- sub 2.5-pumps white mocha-light ice-in a personal cup.  Well, at least I had my own cup...I saved some plastic anyway :)  Also- sometimes you just have to eat and not. think. about what's in the food.  Velveeta anyone?  Nothing beats the pasturized processed cheese product (something about that label seems incredibly eerie) in dips, soups, and sauces.  Yeah, I just went there.

However after reading the book I've made a pledge to ban processed food from my diet, as much as I can help it.  I've vowed to use as many seasonal, local products as possible.  I've decided to do all my gift-buying this year on Etsy, or make them myself- not only to support in-nation artisans but also to cut down on fuel costs and support of big-corporations (and save money!).  Unfortunately, though, my husband is convinced our son needs a Tonka truck that I'm SURE is made in China so we'll have to fail in some areas, I suppose :)

This is my way of making a difference, of being just a drop in the bucket of a necessary change.

What do you think?  Do you consider the deets of your eats?  Where your products originate?  What's YOUR crack?  Ha.

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