Eat Local! No wait, don’t! No wait, do!

My first thought was kind of a doozy… I need some more time to flesh that one out, so shall we start a bit easier?

FOOD. I freakin love food. If I die and go to Heaven, I hope there’s a buffet.

Kristin Keyes (my cousin, and hopefully future contributor) pointed out on my Facebook wall that eating local is important, especially if you eat meat. I whined about this in an earlier post because it has become so beaten into the mainstream ground, and then contested by experts. It’s one of those environmental points that have been forced down our throat, just to have our backs pounded on by scientists and economists so we can dislodge it once again.

And it’s not as simple as all of that, either. It gets more complicated when you start to think about organic food, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), animal products, pre-packaged foods, lab created chemicals, aluminum and plastic containers, Kosher and Hallal foods, and (of course) what you can afford.

Because cash is king, right? Check this out: Americans spend less on food than ANY OTHER COUNTRY. Perhaps that’s because the rent is too damn high, or perhaps (probably) it’s just how our culture values (or rather, doesn’t really value) healthy, clean, fair food.

My personal solution? I cheat. I raise my own meat, feed the animals local, organic grain, and then in the summer can as much local, organic food as I can. When I’m not eating food that I’ve created, I try to buy vegetables that are in season, and stick to the Dirty Dozen list. But I am guessing maybe only one other person who is going to read this blog is capable of doing that.

Ugh, I just sounded so preachy there. Gross.

Anyway, I think we should ignore all of the preachers, the scientists, the environmentalists, the economists, and just go with what feels right. Why should we be purchasing food from halfway around the world, from a country that might not have the same safety standards as us, when we could help sustain those who help sustain our environment and make some rad political statements with our dollars? Because it’s too difficult? Too expensive? Oh, boo to you. Those are lame excuses.

I hate this stupid popular phrase: “life hack.” But I guess that’s kind of what I’m going for here. How can we life hack this situation? We gotta make sure we can get local, organic food without breaking the bank.

  1. Choose cheaper meats. Unless you’ve decided to go vegetarian for environmental reasons, you’re gonna eat meat. Cool. I like meat too. But just because that recipe calls for strips of steak doesn’t mean it won’t be awesome with chicken. So buy organic, but go with a cheaper option. We did turkey tacos for months and months because that’s what we had in the freezer, and I never could tell the difference.
  2. Eat a little less meat. How many times a day do you eat meat? 3 times? If you cut that back to 1 time, you’ll be saving 66% of your daily meat consumption. My friend and health coach, Vicki Ragucci, suggests we have oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and a balanced dinner. Delicious!
  3. Choose a more efficient, less farty meat. Yeah, I said farty. It’s my blog, deal with it. According to this article, poultry is the most feed-efficient meat, and pigs fart less than cows (releasing less methane). Maybe I would be more environmentally friendly if I avoided foods that make me gassy??
  4. Don’t be an idiot at the grocery store. Come on, fools. You should know by now that strawberries don’t grow in New York in January very easily. Ok, some things are harder to remember, like that asparagus is an early bloomer. But in the winter, your best bet for seasonal/local(ish) foods are cold storage foods that can be sold throughout the winter, like apples, carrots, onions, and squashes. Can’t live without your strawberries? Consider stocking up in the summer and freezing them.
  5. Don’t be an idiot at the grocery store part II. When was the last time a multinational corporation had your back? READ THE INGREDIENTS. Just because it says “organic” or “all natural” (side bar-all natural is not an FDA regulated phrase, so it means whatever the eff they want it to mean) doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Come on, that was an obvious one. I apologize for insulting your intelligence by even including it here.

Stop being a wuss and confront your eating habits. What can you do to befriend the green monster in your kitchen? I’m not making you be a vegan, and I’m not making you empty your 401(k) at the grocery store. No excuses.

What other tips do you guys have? I’ve only scratched the surface here!

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