I think this may very well be my fifth (and final) post for the month of February. It’s a long month, I may as well have extra posts.
Of course five posts in February is a ballpark estimate. I could go and actually count my posts, but where would the fun in that be? There I go, justifying laziness as whimsy! Try it, it’s fun.
This month has involved much contemplation on the topic of food. Not as in what should I eat to help me lose that 989123 lbs. I’d like to lose some, but more by way of feeding Pants and I healthily, thoughtfully, and deliciously. I’ve still been ever so obsessed by thoughts and chapters and meals in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Reading Sarah‘s thoughts and challenges on eating locally, taking the plunge and chucking all the processed food out to make room for the good stuff invigorates me. Even more so, reading her posts on the Dinner Guest Blog (especially this one) start to light a fire under me.
And there’s always a but. I’m looking at my checking account. I’m thinking of the time I spend waiting for the shuttle, then the Metro, then the Bus and the idea of going to the grocery store seems so horrifying. I see the free range, grass-fed meats and eggs and dairy products. I even found a dairy that delivers to DC, heard of a bodega selling local foods at 200 Rhode Island NW. My landlord says I can grow potted tomatoes and chiles in the back yard this summer! I think of the rows and rows of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce that I will have canned to last me through the winter.
That threshold isn’t easily crossed. My bargain hunter thinks of the half-gallons of milk that cost $3.50 that are from happy cows who wander around pastures eating grass and contemplating entropy and doesn’t want to justify the purchase when I could get a gallon for $3.79. I see the organic chicken who eat worms and beetles and grass and peck at the dirt and wander around but notice that it’s $11 for 0.80 lbs when I could get Purdue chicken for $6.00. I open my cabinets and see the lovely, healthy boxes of Pacific Organic broths and soups – organic and gluten-free that have been driven conveniently to Silver Spring, MD from the exotic, far-flung land of Tualatin, OR.
The gluten. That’s the other issue. I don’t have a lick of gluten in my house.
[Okay, that’s a lie. Ernie’s food (made of fish and potatoes since he, like his mama, has food and skin allergies) has salmon as the number one ingredient. However, he has barley as the number two ingredient.]
Going gluten-free is better for me. I feel better, I’m happier with my choices at home. i make more foods from scratch and experiment with alternative grain flours. (However, I’m not so gluten-free outside the confines of my humble abode. That’s my other issue to conquer) The fact of the matter is Bob’s Red Mill is, like so many other wonders, in the Pacific Northwest. ‘Cause You’re Special is also not all that nearby (Wisconsin). There’s also the issue that if I want to bake cookies or bread or birthday cake without gluten, I’ve got to add xanthan gum to the mix or it will all fall apart. Xanthan gum. You may know it as a thickener in your processed food. That’s not part of “natural.” So, I can’t go to a local grist mill and get some whole wheat, stone-ground flour. I need to get mixtures of rice and starch and exotic things called quinoa and amaranth and millet.
It’s clearly not going to be all-local, all the time around here. But I’m trying. The urge is there. It’s crossing over into my purchases.
I picked up some garlic, saw the “Product of China” label and put it back down.
I made chicken stock from the leftover carcass of my roast chicken the other night and used it in Esau’s soup for dinner tonight. Instead of buying injera from the Ethiopian bodega around the corner, I made it (almost comically dismally) from scratch – I started fermenting the teff and water on Wednesday and by tonight it was wonderfully sour. My coffee is Brazil Organic Fair Trade from Peaberry (okay, it was “local-ish” because I was in Denver when I bought it).
It’s a process, and it just won’t be 100%. But for me, for us, it doesn’t need to be. We have our vices that we’re allowing. For me, the biggest is coffee. And until I can grow coffee beans in Columbia Heights, I will work hard to forgo the Dunkin’ Donuts in the grocery aisle and support the small farmers who are paid a fair wage for their labors (and make a damn fine yergacheffe… business practices aside, Starbucks can do the right thing!) I will use less and less white rice flour and gravitate toward whole grain flours (sorghum, teff, brown rice, buckwheat, millet) and experiment and play. I will work hard to find a CSA to support local, organic farmers. I will sit down and make a budget that allows me to spend extra on healthy, organic animal products, even if that means – gasp – less yarn. I will clean out my friggin pantry and put some order into it and throw out what doesn’t have an expiration date, to make room for the canning I will start this summer.
It’s hard for me to recognize that it won’t be 100% out of my own backyard all of the time, but I will stop and be grateful for what I can do.