Monday, October 5, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Okay, so I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's very good book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's so inspiring. She and her family basically decide to spend a year eating only food they can find within their county lines, including food they grow themselves. And they do it. It's a fascinating book, along the same lines as many other food books on the shelves these days, such as Plenty and Fast Food Nation. And some of the sweetness of the book is that, not only does the whole family get on board for this adventure, they heartily join in and cook together, can together, and really are of one mind throughout the year.

My own household, in contrast, has become a hodge-podge of different eating habits, so much so that I have all but given up trying to get us all in the same library, much less on the same page.

I've never been much of a gardener, which is my own fault. When I was growing up, my parents had a garden, but I never once joined them in tending it. I did, however, join my mother on many excursions to pick everything possible: chokecherries, gooseberries, raspberries, green beans, corn, cucumbers, strawberries, and possibly other things I have repressed. She made jams and pickles and canned everything that would fit in a jar. My memories of the early days of school each year are punctuated with the tart, harsh, even unpleasant scent of pickling. So I had the role model. In fact, as much as she could, my mother did what Barbara Kingsolver did, only 40 years before it was cool and you could publish a book about it. Dang.

As an adult, I've attempted to grow tomatoes, sometimes squash (I don't think we ever had any edible ones), berries of sorts, but never more than a handful at a time to eat. I have been a member of many CSAs (community supported agriculture) and have frequented farmers markets and bought local as much as my budget will allow. I would like to do more of this, but my family is not enthusiastic, for the most part. In fact, I haven't been a CSA member for years because unfortunately, due to my picky eaters in the house and my non-interest in canning, much of our produce went in the compost pile.

Melissa is somewhat on board with me. She is happy to go to the farmer's market, but really she's more interested in breads and fruits than she is in greens and veggies. She's a meat and potatoes gal all the way, and would happily eat local meat and potatoes to the ends of the earth, but is just as happy to eat whatever comes from the chain stores as well.

Then there's Emily. While she has nothing against locally grown items, she doesn't eat many of the things that grow here. She's not into red meat, although will eat chicken and eggs sometimes. She is not a vegetable lover, except for corn and carrots. Her staples run more the lines of tortellini and pizza.

Peter has always loved berries and fruits of most kinds, plus broccoli. I don't know why broccoli, but he loves it. Again, he doesn't care whether his food is local or not, but he likes enough of the processed crap that it sort of offsets anything local he does eat.

Dear husband David is the ever-frugal-budget master of the house, and his eye is on the bottom line. Thank goodness. Someone's has to be. But he is all for buying whatever is the very cheapest of the cheap, and if it lacks nutrients or uses fossil fuels, that's not on his radar screen. He's the main foe I face in my goal of eating more locally. Now, he's not against local on any particular grounds except that it's usually much more expensive.

So here are the things I HAVE been able to put in place with some success in this mayhem of food in our home. We have local milk and eggs delivered each week through Boise Milk (Reeds Dairy). I love it. The kids definitely notice a better taste to the milk. Another creamery we love is Cloverleaf Creamery. But they don't deliver. I like having milk delivered because we consume a lot of milk and I get tired of constantly going out to get more milk. I buy local meat when I can get away with it, but you see, I hate shopping, so often someone else is assigned to go to the grocery store--and they usually choose the cheapest place, which doesn't sell much local stuff. I have a strong code that if I am not willing to shop/cook/clean, I have no right to complain, so I don't.

I am amping up my own garden. This year we managed to produce some edible tomatoes. We planted strawberries, so next year we can hope those produce. I plan to plant more berries this fall to see how they do. Next year, we'll add another crop or two to our very small vegetable garden. (Space is limited, since the back yard is owned by the three dogs.) If I can just get some sort of paying job, I can afford more of the pricier local goods.

Short of that, I might just have to move next door to Barbara Kingsolver.

Happy eating. Neysa

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