Eat Local Challenge Part 2

Farmers' market photo courtesy of NatalieMaynor

Eating locally-grown food is appropriately called a challenge because it’s admittedly more difficult to do than I anticipated.  For one, I’m a picky eater with limited time to grocery shop and prepare food.  Fortunately I enjoy fruits and most vegetables, both of which are easily found in the “locally-grown” category.  What’s not easily found around me are sources of protein and grains.  In fact rice, a local staple isn’t even grown here in Hawaii.

Another reason why this challenge has been challenging is because I didn’t do my homework on where I can find the local version of foods I eat.  Take chicken for example.  I just assumed Whole Foods or the local farmers’ market would have local chicken available.  Well they don’t.  Rumor has it that, it is possible to buy locally raised chicken but I never took the time to find out where to buy it, when the vendor is open, how far would I have to drive to pick it up, etc.  Same goes for eggs.

I also didn’t psychologically prepare to give up foods that simply might not be available to me.  This is a big one because the idea of food restriction doesn’t come easily to me.  I’ve rarely felt the need to restrict anything I enjoy eating.  (My exception was when I couldn’t eat wheat for a few month because I was having mild reactions to it.  It was miserable.)  Depending on your relationship with food, this aspect of the eat local challenge may not be an issue.

My last and biggest obstacle with this challenge is I failed to get my fiance on board.  He’s easy going enough that if I came home with a bag full of locally grown produce (which I did last Sunday) he’ll eat it and won’t ask about the Tater Tots.  But I need more support than that.  It’s important that he helps me stay on track when that loaf of french bread from California is saying “wouldn’t I taste good with Nutella?” or when I’m too tired to cook, the frozen pizza all of a sudden looks like a healthy option if I bought the vegetarian one.  It didn’t take much to convince my fiance that this challenge would be good for us.  But it’ll take much more effort convincing him to care enough to take action with me.

Needless to say, my performance with this eat locally-grown food challenge isn’t going so well.  But I’m still committed to it for the long haul, especially since I’ll be feeding an entire family one day.  I want to make sure our healthy eating habits start now.

On the flip side, there’s limited (if any) evidence to show that an imported tomato (or grape, or zucchini) is more nutritious than one grown within a 100 mile radius from your home, however, economically it’s better to keep those dollars within the community.  Purchasing locally grown food also means there’s less need for preservatives and genetically modified organisms designed to ripen on route to your grocery store.  Local food is also less likely to be produced from large factories containing lots of processed ingredients, refined sugars, sodium, and trans fats.  So in that sense eating locally produced food is healthier.

So I have lots of homework: 1. Find out what’s actually available around me; 2. Figure out the accessibility of these vendors; 3.Assess how willing I am to modify my lifestyle; 4. Propagate pro local food information into my fiance’s head!

A friend once told me “I’ll only eat what I feel comfortable killing.” Under this parameter, the only meat she ate was fish.  Sharing her sentiment for respecting the food we consume, there’s something encouraging and “feel good” about eating food purchased directly from the farmer who grew it or better yet the food we’ve grown ourselves.  Anything to encourage me and others to eat more fresh produce is a plus regardless of whether the jury is still out about if it’s actually healthier apple for apple.

4 thoughts on “Eat Local Challenge Part 2

  1. .. This information is really good and I will say will always be helpful if we try it risk free! So if you can back it up .. That will really help us all. And this might bring some good repute to you. The diet of human beings prior to the arrival of agriculture, technology and civilization is known as the Paleolithic Diet !! This Stone Age diet, in short, consisted of mainly lean red meat and vegetables. In this type of diet animal meat is consumed in large quantities and 45 to 65% of the energy needed by the body is derived from it. Over and over again, life expectancy studies related to diet, including by the World Health Organization (WHO), have concluded that Americans and Europeans would do better to eat more like third world peoples as the options provided by their additional wealth have most often lead to poor nutritional choices. This is the same basis for the USDA based their popular food pyramid in 1994 … Researchers at Harvard have only suggested perhaps tweaking the food pyramid by replacing some dairy products and read meat with more fruits, vegetables, and fish while also emphasizing the importance of improving the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol!! Plus, exercise not only makes weight loss much easier, but also lowers blood glucose levels, decreases blood pressure, improved circulation, and increases one’s metabolism. Good regular sleep patterns are also just as important. Diets based on USDA recommendations include DASH, American Diabetic Assoc, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig… When children understand how important “real food” is and where the natural ingredients of our food come from, they will increase the general population’s appreciation for preserving our natural environment and limiting toxins and polluting processes in our world. We may even trend back to the time when people stepped outside their homes to interact with family and neighbors in home and community gardens and block-party barbeques! Does anybody even remember how nice those days were?

    1. Hi Floyd. Thanks for your comments and input. I agree with many of the points you bring up. Our food pyramid is definitely in need of an upgrade. The small problem with recommendations is that every body has different nutritional requirements and needs and a generic recommendation isn’t always helpful. That being said, we could all do with less processed foods and more nutritional variety and balance on our plate. Your point about food culture and appreciating what we eat is also important. Hopefully that’ll be addressed in another post. For this one I really wanted to document my struggles to eat locally-grown food which I still find challenging but well worth it.

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