In my on-going quest to one day go Full Vegan, I continue to educate myself about the food industry as we know it today. Part of this education is about learning to cook right, studying the nutrients my body needs, and discovering which foods make me feel which way. The other part of this education is learning about where our food comes from.
I buy as much as I can from the Union Square Green Market, but when it’s off-season, there are a lot of things I need that I can’t get there. I try to eat in season, as your body’s needs vary whether it’s summer, fall, or winter. If you, for example, live in a tropical place all year, your body is more attuned to eating, say, fresh tropical fruits in the winter, because they’re grown nearby. Conversely, if you’re eating a lot of mangoes in a cold New York winter, your body’s going to freak out. You need more than what that tropical fruit can provide because your body is facing harsher, colder conditions. Make sense?
Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle really got me started on my path to trying to eat local. Firstly, it’s the “green” thing to do (I’m starting to loathe that word–so overused), because you’re not contributing to the massive amounts of oil that it takes to get foods from the farms halfway around the world to your mouth. More importantly, to me, by eating things in season that are grown closer to me, my foods are fresher. They haven’t been sitting in cargo for days and days. And, quite frankly, they last a helluva lot longer. Sure, they have a little dirt on them, but that’s nothing a little wash at home can’t fix. Thirdly, I absolutely detest the food industry: the chemicals and pesticides can’t be good for any of us; the mistreatment of animals and workers is inhumane; and the corporate culture of the food industry is repulsive. Supporting small, local farmers is one way little ol’ me, who has no political power, can combat the food industry and their gross practices.
I know it’s not always possible to eat totally local, especially in places like Alaska, but stocking up on local produce in the summer time, you can freeze a lot of it for the winter–spinach, carrots, broccolli, brussels sprouts, kale, and swiss chard are some of my favs to freeze, because they’re good for you year ’round, and awesome in quiches, stews, soups, and casseroles.
Aside from going local, which is a relatively new concept to me, I am almost one year meat-free. (If you don’t count my two slips…or my every-now-and-then fish consumption.) The meat industry grosses me out completely. Why would I want to eat a creature that was tortured its whole life, overfed unnaturally, and then died an extremely violent death? Aside from the humane aspect, what kinds of chemicals does that fear release into the animal? And how does that affect our bodies?
Regardless of the morality and the health benefits of a veggie-based lifestyle (let alone a local one), the proof, as they say, is in my pudding: I’m thinner and stronger than I’ve ever been. Sure, I’m still loco en la cabeza, but that has nothing to do with my food.
In my continuing food-centric education, I’m attending a free, PETA-sponsored private screening of the new anti-food-industry documentary, “Chow Down.” I can’t wait! I LOVE food docs!
Here’s the (underwhelming, but still interesting) trailer for the film: