This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their local farmers' markets.
The challenge is on this summer: can I give up the grocery store and buy almost all of my family's food through local farms, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and our city's daily Farmers' Markets? Yes! I would estimate that this summer I am purchasing over 90 percent of our food products directly from local farms and farm collaboratives, completely bypassing the grocery store and its often heavily processed, industrialized food.
With bountiful summer harvests, convenient Farmers' Markets, and the growing buzz about buying and eating local foods, I thought summer would be an ideal time to examine our family's food habits and begin to introduce more farm-fresh, local foods into our diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available daily at one of our city's nearby Farmers' Markets, along with fresh seafood, meats, eggs, nuts, cheese, wine, breads and baked goods, local honey and maple syrup, grains and dried beans-- more than enough food to feed our family a local, well-balanced, mostly organic diet. I round out our Farmers' Market fare with weekly trips to our local organic CSA farm for supplemental produce and meats. I find this local farm partnership to be an essential part of our learning, offering my children a greater understanding of where their food comes from, who is producing it, and how it is grown and harvested. Finally, I get our milk and other foods delivered weekly from a Vermont organic farm collaborative, and I try to visit the raw milk dairies in my state whenever I can.
So what's left for the grocery store? I can't seem to fully give up on oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, peanut butter, and bananas and oranges, but I am finding that we are eating less of these staple foods as a result of our effort this summer to eat more local, farm-direct foods. I also buy baking and cleaning items, namely vinegar, baking soda, baking powder, butter, yeast, and salt, but these are things to stock up on occasionally and eliminate the need for regular grocery shopping.
As the colder New England months near and the farm-pickings grow slimmer, I will likely increase my visits to our neighborhood grocery store, but I will do so as sparingly as possible, relying as much as I can on my fall and winter CSA partnerships, the summertime foods that I am learning how to freeze and preserve, and the local farms that will continue to offer us grains, and beans, and storage foods throughout the year.
Most significantly, this "giving up the grocery store" summer challenge has led my family to think much more critically about the food we eat, and how and where it is produced. It has helped us to change our eating habits, replacing, for example, morning oatmeal with homemade cornbread and fresh berry jam. It has given us a much greater reverence for the food we eat, for the farmers who grow it, for the soil that nurtures it. It has made us appreciate connecting with our food in a deeper, more meaningful way, under bright sunlight, not fluorescent glow. And it has made us much more committed to supporting local, sustainable agriculture in both words and actions.
What about you? What might a "giving up the grocery store" goal look like for your family? Could you commit to buying half of your family's food items directly from local farms or farm collaboratives? More than half?
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)