June 27, 2013

eating local // a trip to the farmer's market and thoughts on Seven

over the last few weeks, i've had my nose buried in Jen Hatmaker's new book titled 'Seven.' the premise of her story is an escape from excess, cutting down the extra in order to see Jesus and His purpose for us more clearly. she fasts from food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, & stress. the book has completely redefined my perspective on life - how we live it and how we use our resources. though Jen made a radical change, one maybe not suited to every person, her fasts have inspired me to make practical changes in my daily life. for example, grocery shopping. 

 'our grandmas ate local meat and vegetables from their gardens; we eat Pop Tarts and Velveeta. today in America the culture of food is changing more than once a generation, which is historically unprecedented...the basics of the Western diet include:

the rise of highly process foods and refined grains
the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures
the abundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat
the massive consumption of fast food
the shrinking diversity of the human diet
the conspicuous absence of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains

this bodes terribly for us and it is downright disastrous for our children...there is a way out of this madness. we get to vote three times a day against the toxic food supply with our forks. 

Jen includes an entire segment on the benefits of buying local (do you like how i just call her Jen? we're basically BFFs). according to the research, 'most produce is shipped an average of 1500 miles to your grocery store, and that's just domestic produce. international mileage is substantially higher.' additionally, 'only 18 cents of every dollar, when buying at a supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go to various unnecessary middlemen. farmer's markets enable farmers to keep 80-90 cents of each dollar spent by the customer.' shopping local, at a farmer's market for example, reduces harmful environmental impacts, stimulates the local economy, sustains small businesses, AND IT'S GOOD FOR YOU. 

so, with all of that in my head, i have put off any major produce shopping until i was able to shop at our local farmer's market (literally just a few blocks away, once a week). and you know what? not only does it taste better and cost less, it's also fun

'i have $1 left and i need a few apricots, ok?' i said to the man at the fruit stand. 
"$1? ok! here you go lady, and i'll throw in an extra for you."  that, my friends, is a dollar well spent. sun-ripened, fresh juicy apricots. 

between the sampling, and smelling all of the local herbs, and weighing, and exchanging cash and friendly words, i felt a million times better than i do after walking through the grocery store's large air-conditioned aisles, waiting in line between 5 unhappy customers, and scanning my pre-packaged and sometimes processed foods. 

i have been munching on sweet juicy berries all afternoon, and i'm eagerly anticipating dinnertime - when it's time to slice and dice bell peppers, onions, and broccoli and stir fry a delicious meal. beside the minor inconvenience of waiting for the weekly farmer's market or driving a little out of the way to reach it, the benefits of shopping local are more than worth it. since when did we become so attached to convenience, anyway? 

'when my generation of women walked away from the kitchen we were escorted down that path by a profiteering industry that knew a tired, vulnerable marketing target when they saw it. "hey ladies," it said to us, "go ahead, get liberated. We'll take care of dinner." they threw open the door and we walked into a nutritional crisis and genuinely toxic food supply...but a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. we gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families' tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable' 

-barbara kingsolver in Seven

as if that alone isn't enough to convince you. i have been devouring (no pun intended) this book and all of it's spiritual and practical insight. nurturing our bodies, eating to strengthen and sustain us rather than just filling us, and slowing down to enjoy the gift of taste and flavor (in addition to sustaining local farmers and kicking the rich and toxic 'big growers' in the pants) is a form of worship, a beautiful moment we were created to enjoy, not trade in. 

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