>> Friday, March 4, 2011 – concerted efforts, farmers' markets, feedlot meat, grass finished, industrial food, local, locavore, march is a long long month, natural, organic, packaged food, the guy in Sand Springs
It's the beginning of March and the farmers’ markets don't open here in Green Country for another month. For now, I'm eking by like the rest of the local-food hopefuls (I would so love to call myself a true locavore, but I'm afraid some brave soldier who doesn't eat anything grown, raised, or produced more than 100 miles from their home would smite me because I'm not local enough...yet), eating last summer's frozen green beans (and they still taste better than anything I can get from the Jolly Green Giant), trying-trying-trying to vote with my food dollars at the grocery store as much as my income will allow, and, in the end, still buying more feedlot meat and processed food than I want to think about.
I started really focusing on local and organic last spring, after finally beginning to grasp the global travesty I had been buying into all these years. I learned a lot. I went to farmers’ markets regularly, buying everything from fresh produce to local beef and eggs, and I even tried to buy extra to save for winter. I froze a lot of stuff (thanks to Terri graciously sharing space in her extra freezer with me), though not enough to completely get us by. I haven't yet learned the fine arts of canning and drying and I just didn't have the budget (or freezer space) to buy up the meat we'd need ahead of time. There's this guy in Sand Springs who sells grass-finished beef (yes, that's what I said, grass-finished! Not sure what that means or why it matters? That's a topic for another post...), and pork that roams freely for the length of its happy little life. That's who I want to order from. But, like all things in the really real world, it's not so simple as calling him up and ordering a few pounds of ground round. No, you have to order it by the cow – whole, half, or even quarter (practically unheard of – I've been told most operations like this won't sell the meat for less than half a cow), and it has to be ordered at certain times of year, so he knows how much he'll need to raise. As you can imagine, buying that much meat at once is a little bit of a hit to the pocketbook, if you're not budgeting for it ahead of time. Which...of course...I've not yet managed to do.
I'm frustrated—with myself and with “the system.” This shouldn't be so hard. Because it's so basic. I want the food I eat and feed my family to be regular, natural, untampered-with food. And I want most of it to come from close to home...at least, what, within the state? Not the highest “locavore” ideal, but man, it's gotta' be better than getting all my organics shipped from California or another country, right? And I know that buying “gourmet” food from local artisans can be quite pricey (please don't any of my local bakers shoot me, but it's around $6 for a loaf of bread to get it made here in town. I just...I want to, but I can rarely afford to go that route). However, I'm not looking for gourmet. I'm just looking for stuff I can learn to prepare on my own—everyday fare. I'm looking for produce that hasn't been sprayed with poison and meat that was raised the way it was always raised before the 1950s—out in the open, grazing on grass or pecking in the barnyard, and having no neurotic urges to bite off its neighbor's tail or have to be dragged by several grown men to slaughter because it's too sick to walk or stand on its own. Really, who would want to eat that?
So this year, as I ponder what to do with those three quarts of frozen okra I optimistically bought last year and thought for sure I'd have used up by now (Terri? Any ideas?), I vow, timidly and hopefully, to myself, to do better—to keep track of my findings (for my own information and for yours, dear friends), to learn how to do more for myself and not to rely so much on the packaged-food industry, to find a way to beat this beast... one local vegetable and informed choice at a time.