Sustainable, simple food

It started with Barbara Kingsolver, and our efforts to eat more locally, inspired by her wonderful book.

Then my household decided to give up eating meat, which meant we gave up eating like this…

and started eating more like this…

Both delicious, and I do have to confess: sometimes I still miss eating meat. I’ve cheated a couple of times, and I still eat some seafood (most frequently wild Alaskan salmon, which is sustainably harvested). But on the whole, I’ve been moving more and more toward vegetarianism. Why?

1. It’s better for me (My husband and I have each lost more than 15 pounds since switching to an unprocessed, vegetarian diet).

2. I’m not supporting factory farmed meat (for me, it was the Smithfield Farms gestation crates investigation that confirmed my vegetarian leanings – please be warned that the video of the hog farm is graphic and sad).

3. It’s more sustainable.

Disclaimer: I’m not a PETA member, or an animal rights activist, although I do have several much loved, adopted pets, and volunteered for a long time with the Humane Society through my local animal shelter. I’m not as opposed to eating meat as I am to industrial agricultural practices which are cruel to animals and totally unsustainable. Most of the people I know have been supportive, or at the very least, unoffended. But I’ve had many frustrating conversations with well intentioned vegan and vegetarian friends who have pushed their views on me. Nobody likes to be preached at. I’ve also had conversations with friends and family who do eat meat and think that my choice to give it up is either ridiculous or inconvenient.

Food, it turns out, can be a really touchy subject, and just as we use it to build community and spend time together, we can be divided by opposing views on what and how to eat. But this is my choice, and I’m sticking to it, without asking anyone else to join me. I do want to share some helpful resources, though, in case anyone else is interested in eating more sustainably or simply.

  • The Stone Soup blog has many wonderful, five ingredient, ten minute meals to choose from, with several free e-cookbooks, cooking classes, and an archive of recipes. Although they’re not all vegetarian, almost all of the recipes include substitutions to make them vegan or vegetarian. This is my go-to website for figuring out what to make for dinner that is local, unprocessed, and fast. The mushroom sarnie (which I make with local goat cheese instead of mayonnaise) is the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood pocket guides to sustainable fisheries. Although I’m phasing out fish now, for a long time I used these guides and this website to know what fish to eat and what to avoid for my own wellbeing and for the planet.
  • Shopping my local farmers’ market. When I buy at the farmers’ market, I know that the food I’m purchasing is truly local and from small farms, and I’m supporting my community and more sustainable agricultural practices at the same time. Plus, I find all sorts of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, flowers and flours, breads and other beautiful or delicious goodies  The farmers’ market has been a wonderful Saturday morning ritual, on the days that we make it there (another confession: I’m not so successful at this in the winter, even though we’re fortunate to live near a year-round market). For help finding your own within the United States, check out Local Harvest.

Food is just one part of my life that I’m trying to minify, but it’s been one of the most fulfilling – I feel healthier and more energetic, have met some really wonderful local farmers, and I’ve become a better cook! I’ve also very nearly rediscovered my waistline, and I’m pretty happy about that.

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One thought on “Sustainable, simple food

  1. We have also taken processed foods out of our diet, with skinnier and happier people as a result. Haven’t cut out meat (lots of ours is raised outdoors and fed…grass – crazy but true), but have cut back and tried to go organic (prices!) when we can. It’s amazing the difference in our energy levels: I think that’s what I’ve noticed most.

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