Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another downside to eating local

A while back I wrote about "the downside to eating local," which at that time was the fact that I had to run all over town to find ingredients instead of buying them all at the grocery store. I've had a number of hits on that post from people looking for a downside. I don't know why they're looking, but they are. So I hope they read this post, too!

The other evening we found ourselves out later than we'd planned and we had to stop somewhere for a bite to eat before one 3-year-old totally broke down. Anyone with kids knows what I'm talking about. :) Anyway, we ate dinner at a chain restaurant which I'll allow to remain nameless since the waitresses were nice.

The food wasn't so great, though. Scott's and my entrees were totally overpriced for how boring they tasted. We've gotten used to eating fresh, local food at home, and this was anything but. For Munchkin, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich since that was about the only thing on the kids' menu I thought he'd eat. He loves grilled cheese at home.

Fried from too much excitement and too late a dinner, Munchkin was a real squirrel in the restaurant. Up and down, dump out the pepper, crawl on the floor, stand on the seat, etc. They didn't have soy milk and he still won't drink water, so I had to let him have some lemonade. I'm sure it consisted soley of flavored corn syrup, on an empty stomach, and he got even more wired with the extra sugar. We tried to coax him into eating his sandwich, but he just took a few nibbles.

Scott was baffled as to why Munchkin didn't gobble up his sandwich until I noticed that it was made with American cheese. When I mentioned this out loud, Munchkin took his barely eaten sandwich and threw it over his shoulder into the next booth and onto some poor guy's lap. The guy returned the sandwich and we left.

So here's another downside: when you get used to the taste of local, good, real food, the stuff they serve at the chains loses its appeal so much that even your preschooler will recognize "junk" masquerading as food!


Electronic Goose said...

I had to laugh at this story. It's true though. My husband and I rarely eat out, but had to during a layover this week and the burrito we shared was just gross. It makes me grateful that I can eat locally on a normal basis.

Donna said...

goose: Glad I could make you smile. :) Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that homecooked local food!

dogear6 said...

I wouldn't get too down on people checking out the downside of eating local. I looked at it too, mostly to see what insights you might add to my own.

I'm pretty intense on eating local, but have found since moving to central Virginia that I have to loosen it up a bit. The local farmers market does not have a requirement that the seller grows their own produce.

The grocery stores do have a good selection of local grown, but it is limited. The best farmers market is an hour drive away. I've gone there a few times (next summer I will have a garden instead, but even then I cannot raise it all) but it involves a lot of time and effort, which takes away from cooking and other activities.

Lately, my definition of local is if it is from Virginia, then from a neighboring state. If I just cannot get it that way, then at least the east coast. I hate to loosen it up so much, but apparently there is not enough demand for farmers markets here.

Donna said...

dogear6: Thanks for dropping by! I agree with you that a downside is the difficulty of finding certain foods locally. For me, local is the state of Oregon, and if I can't do that then WA or CA, which ought to cover just about everything! But I'm not a stickler about it -- I just buy as much locally as I can. Probably the thing that has made the biggest difference is cooking with "real" foods, as opposed to processed. When I do that, and can use food produced locally, meals taste so much better that I'd never want to go back to cooking any other way!

Letters to Myself said...

Donna - thanks for the response back! I totally agree with your philosophy. The hubby and I got into this to control the quality of what we are eating, as well as to eat local and seasonal.

I think it is weather related (we are from the Midwest and still figuring out the south) but I never could find good winter squash at the farmer's market. But I did find squash from Pennsylvania. It was cheap, cheap, cheap and I now have 15 bags in the freezer.

We did put up Virginia apples and peaches. The cranberries are from New Jersey. Like Pennsylvania, it is about a four hour drive away.

We greatly prefer our own cooking to eating out. We know it is wholesome, minimally processed and has NO additives to it.

Because we just moved in, this summer the garden seeds got tossed into flower beds and left to make their way in the world. The garden did not produce much, but we learned what we need to know for next year as to the sun and mold and really crummy soil.

So my rules for this year became that when the prices went down below $1 / pound, I bought as much as I could and preserved it by either freezing or dehydrating. When prices went up, we continued to buy but only what we would eat that week. And when it went out of season, we moved onto the next seasonal food.

I was so looking forward to November and not being in the kitchen so much, but then the turkeys went on sale. For $6 and later $12 each, they are a great source of cheap protein. I'm still cooking and freezing them (five so far, three more to go).

Our freezer and pantry is full and we're starting to pull it out now for winter eating pleasure.

I do work full time at a very demanding job. I cannot do it all, but I can do quite a bit.

Thanks for the blog and letting me share with you.

Donna said...

Letters: Thanks again. Great comments!

dogear6 said...

Thanks for your gracious response.

Since you have had so many hits on this topic, maybe revisit it with more of a view to overcoming what could be reluctance to shop locally.

For example - it's not organic, they're commercial farmers anyhow, it's not convenient, it's expensive (usually said by whoever does not do the actual shopping), it's crowded, I don't know how to cook it.

And the best - what if I don't like it. That's what dogs are good for. Or we throw it out. I don't want to be wasteful, but part of experimentation is we don't always like it. We finish eating it if it is edible, but sometimes it just isn't even edible to us.

Sorry to ramble on but I think this may be a topic for you to explore more and encourage people to do it. Also the two books are great - the ones by Barbara Kingsolver and the other by the 100 mile diet couple.

Donna said...

dogear: Those are some great ideas and I might just follow up on them!