Although I’ve neglected to properly document these last few days of summer eating, my meals have been faithful to our local food challenge. We did, however, begin to drift a bit from our cause in between meals — a classic American problem. Since our return from London, we had a hard time fully dedicating ourselves again seeing as the time remaining was so scarce. Next year, I suppose, we’ll have another chance to really dedicate ourselves entirely right through to the end. The run we had was good, & I’m happy to have gained a whole lot of experience in the kitchen (I’ve never cooked so much in my entire life as I have in these past three months)! We ditched our Western diet for one more natural to our species, and as a result we felt a better connection to our Earth, community, and to our own bodies. I lost weight, felt fit, and knew that everything I put into myself was as pure and fresh as our Maine soil, water, and air. There’s really nothing as revitalizing as that. After all, you are what you eat (and what you eat eats, and what that eats, all the way down to the very bottom of the food chain).
To anyone out there who may be contemplating a local diet — jump in & give it a try! Just feel it out as you go & make a plan that works for you! The most helpful bit of it all was our thrice weekly trip to the various Farmers’ Markets in Portland. The availability of local produce, dairy, and baked goods in our area is overwhelming and incredibly exciting. There were plenty of things I was surprised to have in front of me (cherries, peaches, plums, yogurt, even ketchup) that I didn’t expect to see! I really feel I grew up a great deal this Summer. I understand a little bit more about healthy living and providing for myself as best I can.
A woman that Ryan and I work with was speaking to me yesterday about how different eating is here than it is in her native Colombia. One of the most obvious differences that she noticed was that we Americans put our eggs in the fridge. They never do this in Colombia, and, as we noticed a couple of weeks ago, they also don’t do it in the U.K. Perhaps, she offered, it’s because the eggs available in her home country, and in organically aware countries like England, are more real than what we can find here. She knows for a fact exactly what happens not only to the Colombian eggs that she eats (or ate before she moved here) before they make it to her plate, but also to the chickens who laid those eggs. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the chickens in the U.S. are not grass fed as they should be, but instead are given only one option for food — seed (because it is cheaper, it feeds more chickens, and because the high amount of energy in the seeds allows the chickens to grow fatter and lay “better” eggs). Or, it could be because of the hormones and antibiotics that we’re pumping into the chickens because they need these to survive on the diet we provide for them seeing as their bodies aren’t actually meant to have to digest a diet of only seed. Maybe it’s because of the extras that we “fortify” our eggs with — extra Omega-3s, for example. It could be a great number of things, but it most likely has something to do with our deviation from the way our food naturally is. When you eat what nature provides you, there are far fewer problems. If you think about it, it makes complete sense…we’ve survived and thrived on just that for the entire existence of humanity, and only now, with the advent of processed foods, have we started to see an overwhelming amount of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet related illnesses.
In my opinion, Michael Pollan said it best: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Eat food, not food products, but real food that grows from the Earth. Not too much of it, just enough to be full. Too much of anything will make you sick. And mostly plants because they are indisputably the healthiest thing the world, or food science, has to offer. Eat some dairy if you’d like, maybe some meat, but only the best quality of all of it or else you are compromising your own health and well-being for the greediness of pinching a few pennies. We have come to a place in our society where we value quantity more than quality. We want more for our dollar. More “food” of lesser quality. We would rather spend our money on internet access, TV programming, and entertainment than the food that keeps us going. To eat healthier and feel more satisfied, one should eat a good amount of real food, and the best quality of it that they can find — local and organic.
Pollan also suggested that to live a healthy life we should eat only foods that our great-grandmother would be able to identify. None of this partially-hydrogenated, high-fructose corn syrup filled, unrecognizably labelled food-like stuff. In fact, he says, if it has a label at all then maybe we should just skip it and go for an apple instead. If we can’t identify it without packaging to tell us what it is, then our bodies won’t know what it is or how to properly digest it either.
That, in short, is what has been rumbling around in my head since the beginning of this Summer and our embarking upon an incredibly enlightening journey through this vast New England garden. I welcome your questions, comments, observations, and interests. I also very much welcome your recipes! I’ve read a lot of books on why one should eat locally, but I’ve yet to find a really good locavore cook book! I’m thinking that if things keep going along like this I may have to start my own!
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