Sunday, January 31, 2010

Well, shit. My healthy eating plan to avoid the US mass-production food system

Thoughts I am thinking today, after watching Food Inc yesterday:

  • I need to find a local farmer who grows meat in a humane way- I do not want to be buying into the Tyson-Perdue, etc. structure of cruelty to animals, farmers, and human workers at all
  • If I do not find a local farmer and commit to eat meat of this standard, I need to just buck up and be a vegetarian again
  • I want to continue to focus on eating seasonally and the methods that enable folks to do that, like freezing, preserving, storing, and drying food. Since I don't have a lot of storage from last year, I will focus on learning more and developing my strategy this season, and then I will really get into in on April 1st, like Barbara and her family did in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I want to cut down shopping at chain grocery stores, such as Kroger, Meijer, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes. Part of this involves analyzing where my food is currently coming from.
Right now (in the winter) I would say this is where my food comes from:

50% Ypsilanti Food Co-op
20% Kroger/Whole Foods/TJs
30% Restaurants, (which means I don't know where the food comes from but I can assume it's most likely not from local growers and farmers)

In the summer, my food consumption looks more like this:

70% Farmer's Market/Ypsilanti Food Co-op
30% Restaurants

My overall goal is for my average food consumption to look like this:

15% home-grown
75% Ypsilanti Food Co-op/Farmer's Market/CSA
10% Restaurant

I'm not sure how much food I can actually grow for myself in my own yard. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to plant, etc. I need to get my soil tested @ the MSU Extension office before I plant anything because I could have led in my soil, etc. and a soil test will tell me what the pH is of my soil and a bit more about the composition.

Assuming I don't have poisionous lead-filled soil, how much food can grow in 500 sq feet?
250 of that is already devoted to raspberry & blueberry bushes that are small and will not produce a lot in the first several years.
Another 50 of that is devoted to the tall, skinny, deranged looking apple trees that we have. If we treat them with some pesticides this year, they might produce edible apples... (last year they were all wormy and chomped-up)
So that leaves me with about 200 sq feet of space left for veggies and herbs. What I can't seem to get a gauge on is how much food do I have the potential to grow, and how much of my total diet could that actually account for?

I'm doing research now on what I can plant and how much light it needs and when, etc. From all this reading and watching and learning, one thing is clear: Making healthy eating choices that are also healthy for your community and the earth is a lot of work, and it's definitely a concious choice you have to make and stick to.

I need to hop outside and get my soil sample together too, so I can get it back before I plant!! It looks nice outside- and I guess it IS nice outside, if you consider nice to be sunny and 15 degrees. :)


  1. I think food is going to be my vice. I'll die without fresh fruit in the winter. Time to Guatemala.

    I think I'm going to try to get my parents to buy from local farmers though. My mom is all about un...bad? meat (no antibiotics, naturally raised). She's just terrible at putting any effort into figuring out how it's done.

  2. I just finished reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"! :) Definitely on my recommended reading list. You might also want to check out "This Organic Life" by Joan Dye Gussow; it's along the same lines as AVM.

    What gets me the most is how unnatural our food has become. When poultry can't even reproduce themselves without human intervention... It's gone too far. Even our local free-range poultry are cornish crosses. The sooner I get chickens in the backyard, the happier I'll be!

  3. theres a local meat guy at the a2 market!!! we've had bison from him before. i'm not sure what else he sells. there HAS to be a way to get local meat.

  4. I loved Animal, Vegetable Miracle, and Food Inc. Definitely great goals to live up too!

    Check out this article-
    For Urban Gardeners, Lead Is a Concern

  5. Thanks, Di, I will definetly check out "This Organic Life"! Always up for new reading

    Chelsea- Yes Ashley also gave me a name of the guy she gets meat from at the Ypsi Farmer's Market- between the two I should be able to find some one!

    Liz- Thanks for the link- I am definetly getting my soil tested for lead before I plant anything else. I wonder if I do raised-bed gardens if that mitigates the lead risk because I would be bringing in new soil?

    Thanks for the feedback everyone!

  6. Hey, here's another book: Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. She has bees, pigs, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, and goats (I think that's all) on a lot in LA.
    I mention that because you could potentially look at raising your own meat. Can't get any more local than that! Some people feel that if they can't kill an animal themselves, they shouldn't eat meat (one reason to be a vegetarian). If you can do that, or can get help doing it, I think chickens and rabbits may be the easiest - and they create great compost for the garden. Read Farm City because she talks about killing the animals in a really humane way and how much she values their life.

    Regarding the apple trees, perhaps you can ask some of the Master Gardeners about this, but I've heard one reason fruit trees get full of bugs and disease is because people let them rot on the tree then fall off and rot on the ground. This attracts lots of buggies. If you were to take good care of the tree and remove all the windfalls (even if everything just goes to the compost) it might improve the quality of the apples in the future. I think I learned that somewhere - or I made it up. I can't remember! =)

  7. Thanks Aimee- I actually just picked up that book at the library the other day! I'd love to at least have chickens.. my partner is not so excited about the idea though haha