I love those moms who plan the meals ahead of time. They are so smart.
They have the little chart to inform everyone around that today is Fried Chicken and tomorrow is Taco night. And do not be late on Meatloaf Night because you know the mashed potatoes cannot wait…
I, on the other hand, am not like that. I often have no idea prior to poking my head in the fridge just what might be for dinner. Meals often involve a bit-of-this and a heaping-of-that, as I am more of an in-the-moment improvisor. I like it that way. It keeps everyone on their toes, generally speaking.
I am especially in form when it is time to head down to the grocery store.
I have the luxury of choosing from four local groceries that all carry specific things that my kids request and that I prefer. I tend to avoid anything processed or in a box covered in day-glo colors, zig zag lines and exclamation points. For some reason, the worse the actual food content, the louder the packaging.
For my family, I buy things that come in bulk if possible and I prefer to purchase local and in season products. This means that when it is berry season we eat berries frequently. I am excited to learn how to can fresh produce so that I can enjoy raspberries in the fall and not purchase them flown in from Ecuador. Seriously, if I must have raspberries out-of-season, frozen is better, truth be told.
That little thing right there is the main beef (such an awful pun) that I have with our food: It is often not from wherever you happen to be or sometimes even in the hemisphere that you call home. It is packed, unripened, from the locale where it is grown, loaded with Lord-knows-what preservatives and chemicals, shipped on a plane (the carbon footprint, for Pete’s sake) and brought to my local grocer so that I may enjoy fresh blueberries from the comfort of my frosty-paned winter kitchen.
I think it is all a little odd, and not in the least bit green.
I subscribe to the wisdom of the guru of local, fresh, seasonal and delicious: Alice Waters. Not only am I spending far less to ship food that is actually a luxury, not a necessity to my table, I am supporting local farmers in my community who generally try to grow as organic as possible, even if they cannot afford the testing that goes with said label. Some farms even allow you to pick your own, thus saving even more money, although you may need a sturdy pair of boots and gloves if the picking involves those raspberries.
The “green” grocery shopping expedition is bound to offer some surprise if you let it. A few tips:
> Choose items that are abundantly in-season. You will have better quality and taste and probably a better price if those beans gotta move because the next truck is unloading.
>Consider the source. Do you know how things are grown in Ecuador? Or Brazil or even Canada for that matter? How much fuel is used to ship that mouthful of beans 3,000 miles away from whence it came? And is it really as tasty as the ones grown by the farmer in the pickup at the farm stand? It doesn’t have to be the Farmer’s Market either.Your grocery store just may carry the local farmers’ wares simply because all those moms in your community stood up and requested that they do so.
>Avoid prepackaged foods. In choosing to go a teensy bit greener in this way, you may also save money from buying all the prepackaged pseudo food that comes conveniently pre-made right into your home. Not that I am above the healthier pre-made at times when the day was long and the homework was longer, but if I can make real food for my family a few days a week, pack it for lunches the next day, perhaps even get another dinner somewhere in there, I have stretched my budget and fed us better, healthier and with far less waste.
I love that. That for me, is living in the moment.
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Kristen EykelCHt. has been in media her entire life but her job description defies gravity. A consummate world traveler, her career has moved from Top Model in Paris to TV Host in America, Kundalini Yogini to Birth Doula, Hypnotherapist to Writer and Mother to two gorgeous home-birthed children.
She has lived all over the world in an environmentally conscious way for over 20 years. From driving a hybrid to offsetting her carbon footprint for plane travel, to utilizing only non-toxic, biodegradable products in her home, Kristen “reduces, re-uses and recycles” everything she possibly can, which makes her a bit of a packrat. She can also talk about composting far more than most people feel comfortable with. She believes that pets are the front line of compost, kids are born upcyclers and conservation is a mom’s best friend.
She loves gourmet cooking and dreams of the perfect bed & breakfast in Bali. She is a complete eco-hippy who firmly believes that fine cashmere, four-inch heels & French lingerie are every woman’s birthright. She is also pretty confident that she and most of her audacious friends would have been burned at the stake, and with very good cause indeed.
Editor: Jill Barth