20 February 2012

All things in moderation

Could you live an entire year eating locally or the food from your garden? Barbara Kingsolver transplanted her family from the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of Virginia for their endeavor. Join From Left to Write on February 21 as we discuss Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Well, for me, the short answer for that first question would be: uhm, no.
I don't know how to grow daffodils, let alone anything one could reasonably eat, I don't happen to own (or be married to someone who owns) a farm on which to hone my growing skills, and I lead a very hectic life (or does it lead me?) with three very active boys and a husband who is off flying the friendly skies half of every month.  I am a big fan of convenience and the pizza delivery guy, especially when I'm the only one in the house with a drivers' license and a car, and three kids have to get to different activities or practices in the same afternoon.  My mantra is 'all things in moderation.'   Except coffee.... I really, really like coffee.   

Now, having said all of that, let me back off from my "uhm, no," at least a little bit.  

First of all, I fully realize that it is possible to lead a very hectic life and still grow vegetables.  Or buy from farmers' markets and farming co-ops or CSAs (community supported agriculture).  And I realize that many, many people far busier than I, can and do eat locally grown and harvested produce and meats all the time.   I also realize that I don't necessarily have to be the one doing all the farming and the growing.  Which, honestly, is a relief, because I'm not exaggerating, I can't even grow daffodils.   But I'm still a wife and a mom who wants to feed her family healthy and nutritious food that tastes good, is grown in a responsible way and doesn't cost more than my children's college fund. 

Barbara Kingsolver and her family moved from Tucson, Arizona to Virginia, to a farm her husband owned, and made a pact together to only eat food that they grew themselves or that was grown locally, or just do without it.  That's a huge step.  Huge.  Kingsolver's story is fascinating and well written, with humor and amazing research.  I especially liked the sidebars written by her family members.  I only wish my children loved fruits and vegetables so much!  
Being a historian, I was fascinated by Kingsolver's research into the types and variety of different types of fruits and vegetables that we have lost, due in large part to the mass production of industrial farms and the focus on growing only a couple of crops, but A LOT of them, for maximum profit.  I had no idea, and it's tragic.  If France and Italy and Germany and India are all known for their wonderful and unique cuisines, what would American food be?  McDonald's?  Ick.

I don't think I possess the intestinal fortitude for a transcontinental move and a vow to give up Honey Nut Cheerios, I'll just throw that out there.  But after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I will say that I am inspired to expand my horizons and try some new things.  I will frequent the farmers' markets and local farms more, I will research local CSAs and I will learn to enjoy cooking.   I will stop caving to the whiny "how many bites of THAT do I have to eat?" and I will continue to encourage and teach my kids to make healthy food choices.  I will learn more about what is in season, and what is not, and I will try to do better to abide by the schedule nature gave us.

I can't promise to delete the pizza guy's phone number from my speed dial, but I can promise that I will press 'call' a little less often.

Hey, it's something!   We've all gotta start somewhere. 


Cristie Ritz King, M. Ed said...

I think the starting somewhere part is revolutionary. I never in a million years would have predicted the foods that I currently cook, eat and enjoy but it all started with little steps and snowballed into an entirely new lifestyle and career. You never know and being open to it all is the best step.

Janin Wise said...

I've been fortunate that my boys are used to -years- of my experimenting in the kitchen. So they're willing to try each new creation once. If it's good, I get rounds of "Keep THAT recipe, Mom!" But I also get plenty of the, "How much of this do I have to eat?" and a mental note to myself to toss that recipe out. It's the small steps that we can all make that'll add up (:

Marianne Thomas said...

The cooking part of it is huge, IMHO. I think cooking is one of the lost arts in our generation of women - many of us grew up as the first generation post-feminism and somehow learned everything except the basics of running a home (cooking, laundry, hemming a pair of pants, etc).

Anyhow...keep plucking away at it, one veggie at a time. And if you have a slow cooker, pull it out and start there. Lots of great meals with little effort came come from the mighty Crock Pot. ;-)

Lisa Hanneman said...

I'm with you, Marianne! Starting with your crock pot might make cooking for your family a lot easier and will help you stop hitting that call button. The crock pot, meal planning, and a few healthy, easy stand-by's allow me to make sure we have a home cooked meal every night.

Some Suburban Mom said...

Thanks for taking the time to stop and comment! I really have learned a lot....mostly, I learned that I have a lot to learn! But I want to start. I really like what you had to say, Cristie. The willingness to learn is a good first step. I'm going to try to give myself a little credit for effort instead of feeling frustrated and defeated before I even begin.