Beyond the generic grocery store, I simply didn’t know. Then I read a book about a family that spent a year growing its own food and getting to know the people in their community who produced the food.
Chapter after chapter, as I learned about topics such as eating in-season crops and the art of cheese-making, I started to examine the food I served my family.
Where did it come from? Who was producing it? Was it the healthiest available option?
I scoured our pantry and quickly discovered the shelves filled with items produced, processed, or packaged far from Lansing. The next night, I served dinner with small labels on each dish. Mexico. Argentina. Spain. Honduras.
The message was clear: Our food was more traveled than we were and we could do better to support local eco-friendly providers.
That was the beginning of my family’s local food journey.
We had a lot to learn.
My first local meat purchase was 75 pounds of beef from a Mason farmer who doesn’t inject his animals with antibiotics or hormones, a practice some believe contributes to health problems for people. The farmer told me a steer named Big Fella had spent his life grazing on wildflowers and grasses, which seemed like a better life than some of the industrial-sized cattle operations I’d heard about. The farmer invited my kids to the farm and when I sat at the farmer’s kitchen table to write a check, I couldn’t imagine feeling better about my “go-local” kick. And then we made hamburgers; the meat tasted amazing.
Emboldened, we explored farmers markets, visited a natural food store with local options, and asked foodie friends where to find the best fare.
You can’t get more local than your backyard, so I planted a garden. The first year, I harvested a lot of tomatoes, all green and inedible. This year’s garden, my third, already is producing and aims to be my best yet.
When I shop for food now, I always look at where the food comes from and opt for local sources when possible. We still eat a few foods from far-flung places but I’ve also tapped into a movement that tastes good, supports my neighbors, helps the environment, and even saves money.
You can read the full article in the Lansing State Journal.
Image: Karen Schultz from the Lansing State Journal.