Monday, August 2, 2010

Reflections on Being Outside the Box

Hello Positive Eaters,

I made it! One entire month without entering a grocery store. I managed to even avoid those grey area "health food stores." I did get food from a few restaurants and a couple times bought an item from CVS, but other than that I survived on what was stocked in my pantry and the bounty of local farms. This post isa reflection on the food, the people and the fun that was last month's challenge.

One thing that cannot be understated is how quickly you gain the ability to make several different dishes from the same items. When you are limited to whatever is already in your pantry you get creative. Quinoa with vegetables was a stir fry, a salad, a pizza and a wrap. You also start diving into food that would either be ignored or went to waste in the past. How very efficient!

The freshness of local farm raised food is unmatched. Anything that was picked yesterday and ends up in your stomach today carries with it a crispness and flavor unique unto itself. This is devoid from store bought food as it is bound to fade away when it sits in a truck on its trip from Florida or California. This freshness makes you appreciate the fertile lands that exist in your own backyard. The potential for food to sprout from the land right beneath your feet helps to develop a unique reverence for any open space you come across. I probably walked around barefoot on the grass more times this month than usual. I just wanted to feel this soil that can grow plentiful amounts of food beneath my feet.

The experience of shopping amongst farmer's markets and conversing with farmers was truly the most special part of this challenge. Often "grocery shopping" is on the list of "to do's"...just another necessary task in our busy schedules. People often try to get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible. I often found myself looking for a reason to hang around longer when visiting a farm or a farmer's market. Often people visit the farm as a "summer excursion." This was like a little excursion for me three or four times a week. Talking about the food with farmers was a joy. They are often deeply connected to their food and their land. They become more connected to you the more you shop there. They are not simply putting the food on display, they are selling you a piece of their land and their labor.

The reason I encourage all of you out there to try and look for more options outside the box is that it is incredibly fun. Not every farm carries the same stuff, so you find yourself visiting many different locations. You meet cool people and travel cool places this way. I spoke mostly about farms in this post...but I also needed to find places that sold bread, eggs and even peanut butter to replenish my cupboard. I discovered a mediterrean bakery where I was able to buy pita bread and even found people who kept chickens in their backyard and sold organic eggs. I met a bee keeper who sold honey and homemade jams and peanut butter. I would have never met these people if it wasn't for forcing myself to look outside the box.

And that is the point of all this! To get outside the box and feel free! Many people asked me "how are you going to eat" when I told them I was going to take on this challenge. This shows how we are trapped into the thinking that we are reliant on the big grocery store chains and food makers of this world for our survival. This is the furthest thing from the truth. The very ground underneath your feet can sustain you. Challenge yourself....maybe not for an entire month...but make one meal with food bought from sources other than the grocery store. You will feel slightly rebellious and you are guaranteed to meet some interesting people and even have an adventure or two.

Stay Positive,


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