Sunday, May 20, 2012

City Food and Farmers' Markets


Many of my city's farmers' markets are returning this week to share their fresh, local food with us urbanites.  I felt almost giddy today as I stuffed big bunches of kale and lettuce and asparagus and Swiss chard into my shopping bag.

Over the past year, I've been writing about and reflecting on my rising commitment to feeding my family mostly seasonal, locally-produced foods, as part of my broader urban homesteading goals.  The clincher for me was reading the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by best-selling novelist, Barbara Kingsolver.  Kingsolver writes about rejecting the industrial food complex that feeds most American families, and instead committing, along with her family, to consume only local, seasonal foods--including much that they produced themselves. I love this entire idea, and have been steadily moving in this direction, inspired by books like Kingsolver's, and friends of mine here in the city who have led the way.  One such friend, for instance, is endeavoring to only purchase "raw," farm-fresh ingredients, nothing prepared in a factory, including things like raw wheat to self-grind and prepare at home.  

As I realize more and more how detached I have become from my food, even as I've focused more on purchasing locally in the past year, I become increasingly disillusioned by the rise of the industrial food complex over the past half-century, and bewildered at how I was able to be easily lured into its variety and convenience without much effort.  The effort, it is clear, is in recognizing the cost of convenience, things like genetically-modified and highly-processed foods, and seeking alternative ways to feed my family using farm-fresh, local, seasonal foods.

When I think about it, it is baffling that to eat the way our great-grandparents ate is so hard. It takes a lot of conviction to feed one's family pure, local, seasonal foods--not to mention re-learning what those seasonal foods actually are.  And it is especially hard to re-learn what came so naturally to our ancestors when we have hungry little mouths to feed who could care less whether the kale they ate tonight for dinner came from near or far or was produced with pesticides or without.  But I care.  I care about learning what I don't know, committing to what is hard to do, and contributing to a larger cultural shift in helping families to reclaim control of local, farm-fresh foods.

6 comments:

  1. We have a similar goal this year. We expanded our garden with an eye towards doing a lot more canning this year.

    That book is on my reading list - I haven't gotten there yet, but soon.

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    1. Yes, Jenn! I am also going to do a bunch of canning this year--beginning with strawberry jam next month!

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  2. I listened to that book on cd a while back. I found myself pausing at certain parts and calling to my husband to say, "You have to come hear this!". Great book :)

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    1. I know! I have this same reaction about so much of her book!

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  3. yeah farmers markets! It's funny since we started eating seasonally I've noticed Spring is the hardest month. With all it's rebirth it's actually the hardest season to eat through- although the end gives us asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, and early strawberries (yum!) The early spring has seen our stocks depleted with not much coming in. I'm so happy the one near us opens this week. We're so hungry! And good luck on your continued journey. It's hard but worth it. I hope we can use each other and other friends near by to ease the transition. After all our great grandparents lived surrounded by friends and family who ate the same way, and someone was always there to watch the baby so there's no shame in help!

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  4. You're such an inspiration, Leigh! And, yes, I agree with you that a big part of this process is cultivating a community of like-minded families who believe in the importance of eating local, farm-fresh, seasonal foods.

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