I love to eat out.
Growing up near a big city has its advantages. We can eat ourselves around the world on any given night. From tapas to tamales to tiramisu, the options are tantalizing. I would never be able to create these delights like the people who are from the places they represent on the menus.
Yet, now living more mindfully—shopping locally, reducing waste, and supporting eco-friendly businesses—there is a rub:
Am I being mindful if I choose to eat food that is not from my local region?
What were the workers’ conditions where the spices, vegetables, or sauces were created?
How was it packaged when shipped? Does the restaurant recycle?
How much fuel did it take to fly it to me? Am I contributing to global warming?
If it expires, how much food gets wasted each week? Is it composted?
I’m a walking hypocrite—many times I have no idea of the answers to these questions.
I try to follow my mindful values at home, but am I practicing what I preach when I’m loving every bite of my homemade salad? Let’s see. Bought at my local store, I am enjoying crunchy lettuce from Spain, ripe avocados from Mexico, juicy pomegranates from Israel. Hmm, maybe not.
Now, my farmer’s market carries local delights that are in season. Yet, not all of the farms are organic; and even if they are, it could be right alongside a booth selling bananas, oranges, and other items that do not grow in the northern parts of the country.
Ugh. So, even when I am attempting to be as local as possible, I am not.
I am growing what I am able to at home. It’s tricky to do this because of the deer and rabbits who chow on everything after our c-c-c-cold winters. However, even though my deck and indoor container gardens thrive, they only grow so much—and the growing season is short.
What to do?
Honestly, when conversations twist and turn, like with my family, I just want to retreat and eat chocolate…but that isn’t local either.
Instead, I have made this summer’s Mindful Steps for Eating without Losing My Mind:
>> Get to know more restaurant owners. I’d like to ask the questions that reveal the passions behind the menus. Is it the food and its conscientious qualities? Or, for having the most beers on tap?
>> Support the restaurants using as much local food and materials as possible.
>> Spread the word. I bet you’ve heard that bad news spreads twice as fast as good news. So, get on the horn and share what you love.
>> Get to know the farmers. Tour the farms if possible. Join the co-op.
Lastly, we should call a spade a spade. No one is perfect. We must give grace to ourselves and go on and enjoy something new from a faraway land every once in awhile.
Don’t forget to invite me!
In addition, keep in mind how far you’d like to take your inquiries. Remember this?
Author: Kate Fleming
Editor: Lieselle Davidson