New Year, Old Habits

With 2015 finished, many people are looking at January as a fresh start. Resolutions are set and everyone is ready to become a better version of themselves. With the season of resolution upon us, we tend to hear a lot of the same commitments. Getting fit seems to be the most popular amidst my friends and family. When talking about healthy living, it’s impossible not to think about food. This is the time of year when everyone says they will change their diet and get that bikini bod by summer. My January is equally focused on food, but for me I am not starting a new diet; instead I am closing in on the home stretch. As many may know by now, a part of my YAV year is participating in two eating challenges. The first is to eat only local food from September to February 1st. That means that I am 25 days away from finishing my local eating challenge (not that I’m counting or anything).  With a month left, I want to take some time to reflect on where I am and what will come next.

At this point I’ve been eating only local food for 4 months, less the 5 days I was in Virginia visiting my family for Christmas. In that time I have lost weight and I generally feel better. Having been a vegetarian for 9 years now (New Years was my anniversary- go me!) it hasn’t been challenging to live mostly off vegetables; however I have learned exponentially more about seasonality and regionality than I ever thought I would know. I have learned about new vegetables (kohlrabi, romanesco) and how to actually cook food (baking bread, blanching and canning). I now know how to make pasta from scratch and I know that I am not very good at it. I also know now that not much grows in January in Massachusetts- I already knew that one- and consequently I am pretty excited for February 1st. While there were plenty of positive outcomes to this eating challenge, I can confidently say that I will not be eating all local food for the rest of my life.

What comes next for me will not be a new lifestyle committing to all local foods for the rest of forever. I miss the ease of pre-made pasta and ordering pizza instead of making the dough. But I can say that I will be much more intentional with my purchasing. Seasonally and regionally appropriate shopping is not as challenging as it seems. While I will definitely go back to the convenience of prepared goods, I have developed a fondness for local produce. Going to the farm to pick up my CSA seems quaint and out of date, but these months have shown me that it is absolutely realistic. I won’t assume that anyone would actually accept my challenge to eat strictly local but I would encourage everyone to try and make your grocery list just a little more local. It’s a very do-able resolution and it makes America’s food system more sustainable. A topic that my household has had, and keeps circling back to, is expressing our values through our purchases. Not buying Nike’s sweatshop make shoes seems to be easy for people, but thinking about the environmental impact of fresh strawberries in Massachusetts in January doesn’t. As Americans, we want what we want when we want it; and local eating doesn’t always get you that. But being patient in that regard can make a huge difference in our world. So while the year is young and you’re committing to new things, maybe commit to checking out your local farmers market or ordering a CSA.




And stay tuned for next month when my eating challenge turns from local eating to living on SNAP.