One thing that camp affords me the time to do is read. I read a lot anyway, but at camp, where we all share a room, quiet time for the girls means...well...quiet time for me. Time for indulging in a good book. I like it. It's not like at home where quiet time feels like the only time I have to clean the house or get dinner ready or do the gazillion other things that call my name. Here, my only job, really, is to care for my family. During quiet time, when they are otherwise engaged, I get to care for myself. And I do that, have always done that, by reading. So, soon after we got here I started reading this book:
Yeah...I know. It sounds kind of hippie, right. Well...it kind of is. Actually, Barbara Kingsolver would be irritated to hear me say that. She would argue that it is ridiculous to have negative connotations in regards to eating healthy. And, she's probably right.
I'm not really a health nut in my own mind. I like soda, I like chocolate (and not the dark kind either), and I even eat the occasional fruit snack. But, I've come to realize that in comparison to a whole lot of Americans, I am kind of a health nut. I make my own whole grain bread. I have a garden in the summer. I pick apples and can my own applesauce. And there's plenty more. But, let me just say, I've got nothing on Barbara Kingsolver.
Initially, I began this book kind of skeptically. Here's the premise. Barbara Kingsolver, along with her husband and two girls move across the country to a farm and commit to eating only local foods for one year. Daunting, but apparently doable. And then, she writes about all she learns. So, I sat down with it, my Diet Dr. Pepper and, yes, some fruit snacks and began to read. Halfway through the first chapter, I pushed both away and began to chastise myself for not snacking on walnuts and sparkling water. When I stopped reading after quiet time, I wasn't sure I would go back. Who needs more guilt in their lives? Not me.
But, I did come back. And, what I've found are some new ways of thinking. They don't have to produce guilt. I can reasonably assume that I may never live on a farm/orchard and grow 5 acres worth of my own fruits and vegetables. But, there is plenty that I can do and plenty that intrigues me enough to try it. I may not save my family completely from the evils of high fructose corn syrup (because of it's prevelance in everything we eat, it, along with soybeans[used for making hydrogentated oil] comprise about 70% of midwestern crops these days...70%...and farmers have had to go with the flow, or else risk losing their livelihoods), but I can think harder about the choices I make in the grocery store. I can choose to support my local, organic farmer, whose produce doesn't have to be shipped thousands of miles, thus losing some of it's flavor and a good deal of it's nutrition. And, I can eat seasonal fruits and vegetables instead of insisting on having anything I want at any time I want. (If you are eating raspberries in January...they came from really far away. Who knows what had to be done to those raspberries for them to survive a shipment from South of the Equator? It's not natural.)
Alright, I know I have lost some of you at this point. It's too overwhelming and probably just feels like one more thing to be concerned with in a world of concerns. I know I'm not gonna change everything about the way we eat. I just can't. It's not practical for me, with three small children, to go traipsing all over creation trying to find every organic farmer and local honey there is. But, it's made me think a little. I'm thinking more about our local farmers and how much they need our support. I'm thinking about my family and what I can do to encourage healthy eating habits. I'm thinking about the fact that while it may cost a little more in some ares to do this, which is scary, it's probably worth it. And I'm thinking about how much fun it would be to try some of this stuff. So, here's what I'm gonna try to do:
1. I will try to buy only things in season, locally, whenever possible, thus guaranteeing that they are fresher. No more grapes in April, apples in February, and Avocados in November.
2. I will buy some local, seasonal things in bulk and store them if they are storable in my cellar and can them if they are not. Tomato season will bring a great deal of work, but I think I'm up for the challenge.
3. I will try...try, to make my own mozzarella. It supposedly only takes about an hour and I really think it might be fun to see how it's done and to get to pull all that stringy goodness into long ropes of cheese and then eat it!
4. I will ask my local grocery store if any of their products come from local farms...and do my part to put pressure on the chain stores to carry more local produce.
5. I will call around and ask about buying local chicken and eggs. I WILL NOT kill and pluck my own chickens. Nope. Not gonna do it.
Whew! That seems like a lot, actually. But, I think I can do it. I'm kind of excited about it actually. Hippie chick, here I come! Oh...and I forgot #6...
6. I will, every once in a while, give myself a break and buy an avocado in November because, let's face it...I'm not that hard core. And I really like guacamole.