Lately, when grocery shopping, I’ve had a bit of anxiety. Its not the cost of food that is freaking me out or what the hell I am going to make for dinner, its the simple question “Where did this come from?”. Conscious eating has always been an interest of mine, from both a health, humanitarian and environmental stand point. Its a bit mind boggling to think about the process it takes to get food from where it is produced to one’s plate. Farm to fork? My brain hurts!
Even though I live in a climate that is warm year-round…. not much food is produced locally. In the debate over organic versus local… I favor both. But, if I need to choose… I prefer buying food that is locally produced. I have a small network of friends here who grow and are happy to barter and trade for food. Florida citrus is easily procured here; my favorite juice comes from Indian River County, just south of here. My friend, Urban Gardener raises free range chickens in his backyard, so luckily, I am able to have farm fresh eggs on a regular basis. He also grows other crops… seasonal veggies mostly… and is willing to barter. My mom has just begun raising organic, heirloom tomatoes. So excited for that crop. A local fish market fishes off the Melbourne Beach/Indian River County coast and on any day I can easily buy fresh fish. Luckily, we also have an organic cafe called Happy Healthy Human, where we pick up a organic produce box bi-weekly, for green smoothies and cooking. Thankfully, my partner (I will call him the Professor on this blog) shares with me a desire to consume more consciously. We eat meatless several times a week and try to use whole grains, legumes and produce. The Professor is so passionate about whole living that he even began brewing his own beers! Well, lets be honest, he just likes anything that involves frothy brew.
So, locally produced foods I have access to are: eggs, fresh fish, seasonal veggies, orange juice/citrus and beer. Not bad. But back to that grocery-store-aisle-anxiety. I just don’t feel comfortable when I cannot pronounce an ingredient.
I want to be able to eat better breads and barter and trade fairly with my local friends who produce food goods. So, for my birthday last week, I asked for a cookbook I had heard was revolutionary. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I have developed a strong desire to bake well, make bread well, work that oven well… perhaps its my internal, nurturing clock ticking away, but it just seems right. It might also have something to do with the shiny, beautiful and nifty Kitchenaide Stand Up Mixer that sits on my kitchen counter (thank you Mom and Dad!) So, since Saturday, I have produced 3 loaves of really, really, really good bread. Mouth-watering bread. I-can’t-believe-this-came-out-of-my-kitchen bread. I’d highly recommend buying this book. The no-knead method of bread has been one I tried in the past, but this philosophy is much tastier than any other bread I’ve ever made, not to mention it is 200 times easier.
I’ve decided that bread-making will be one of my summer projects and I plan on producing daily, if possible, and sharing the breads with my friends and family. My hope is that by reducing the amount of store bought bread I purchase, I will lessen the preservatives we consume and become more conscious and grateful for the breads I do eat. Although bread-making is easy, its not necessarily as easy as picking up a loaf at the store. It should save me a few dollars too. And extra dollars are definitely a good thing.
Do you have ideas or advice for me as I embark on this journey towards more conscious eating? Bread-making tips? Ideas or resources? I’d appreciate any advice from you, local or not.