In 2014, my husband and I are going to eat a diet consisting almost entirely of foods produced locally. It is a locavore diet, if you will. I have been hinting about this a little bit on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t want to reveal what I was doing until today. There are a lot of logistics to work out, and when I commit to something, I commit. I hate making promises and then backing out, even if it’s to myself (or the interwebs).
That being said, my husband and I have talked about this a lot, and we’ve decided that for the entire year of 2014 we will follow some pretty strict rules about our food sources. We are committing in 2014 to buy 90% of the food we buy from farmers in North Carolina. We are calling our new diet “The Local Diet”, and I will be blogging about it regularly. I also hope to interview some of the farmers we have chosen and get their perspective on agriculture and the sustainable food movement.
This is not something I decided today, and I want to be very clear in what we will be doing. The more defined the rules are, the easier it will be to follow, so here are the rules.
1) 90% of the money we spend on groceries will be spent on local produce and meat, grown and raised right here in North Carolina. My husband and I are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. We don’t spend more than $150/week on food, and I intend to keep it that way. This may mean some sacrifices will have to be made. I will be talking a lot about this, but one of the main things is we will probably be eating less meat overall, although more sustainable sources. We will be eating the less expensive cuts mostly. The thing about sustainable meat, i.e., pasture raised pork and grass fed beef, is that it is self limiting. If meat is raised responsibly, it’s not possible for the average family to eat huge portions of meat for every meal, every day. We will, however, be using the entire animal (including organs – at least for me), making broth from the bones, saving leftovers, and otherwise being frugal with the meat we do buy. When you realize how much time and effort goes into raising an animal for meat, you don’t waste it. And that is our intention.
2) My husband and I will be allowed to go out to eat as a couple once per week. I am trying to contribute positively to the environment and our family’s health, not ruin my marriage! We will try to find restaurants that buy local produce and meats, but I can’t make any promises because I don’t know a lot about restaurants in the area. We don’t actually eat out all that often, so I am anticipating it will be less than once per week.
3) Local does not always mean sustainable, and we are going for both. Smithfield has a huge factory within 50 miles of here. No, this is not going to be on our approved list. Likewise, there is a huge poultry processing plant in Fayetteville, NC. Still not eating it. I prefer to use farmers that I know use sustainable practices, no matter the size. I am not saying that large farms are bad; the way in which the farm operates is what’s important to me.
4) A few things that I will continue to buy that I am hoping will fit into my 10% are: Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil, California Olive Oil, (An aside: many imported olive oils are not 100% pure, and contain canola oil. It’s hard to tell the difference just based on taste. Olive Oil from California has been proven to be more pure because there are less steps between the olive and the shelf.), Oranges from Florida, Mangos and Avocados, and certain spices and seasonings. I will continue to buy these things, and just limit them to 10% of our spending budget. I am trying to mimic more of an ancestral diet. Not exactly “Paleo”, but rather just a few generations back, when imported foods were rare treats, and expensive. When people ate real food. People raised and grew their own food or bought it from someone they knew who raised or grew it. People still got imported foods, but they were more expensive and they were a rare treat.
5) My husband is a salesperson. He often has clients he takes out for lunch or vice versa. I am not going to ask him to stop doing this as it is critical for his job description. However, he will be taking his lunch on other days. As far as the children go, they go to a preschool that serves lunch. I am going to pack them a lunch, but I am not the type of person who would prohibit them from eating the lunch that’s provided. I feel like that would be setting them up for failure and long-term issues with their relationship with food.
6) I will be considering carefully the environmental, economic, and nutritional impact of each item I buy. I hope you will go with me on my journey. If you want to get updates on my progress including recipes, successes and failures, interviews with local farmers, etc, sign up to subscribe to my email list below.
If you’re still with me and you have more questions, great! Here’s a summary of Day #1. We have been planning this for a while, so we went to the farmer’s market last weekend. Here is our bounty:
The strawberries are grown locally in a greenhouse, in case anyone is wondering :). Definitely got a lot of good stuff! For breakfast today we had bacon, eggs and grits. We are planning on having the carrots, broccoli, cubed steak and potatoes for dinner.
I am really excited to go on this journey and I can’t wait to provide recipes, advice, and stories.