Friday, January 4, 2008

Some initial thoughts and guidelines

Not sure what these are, but I saw them while I was walking along the river the other day and thought they looked cool.

What with the holidays and whatnot I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, but I have been keeping localtarianism in my thoughts, and in some of my actions, nonetheless. I'm going to try to update this blog more often, hopefully at least once a week, as the year progresses. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by so far, and thanks for the comments. Keep them coming! Reading your reactions and thoughts gives me encouragement to keep going, and gives me more to "food" for thought. :)

Since deciding on this course of action, I've been working on setting up some guidelines for myself. I am just not disciplined enough to try the "100 mile diet" which Ellen mentioned, and I don't want to overwhelm myself with demands that will probably just lead to me not doing anything at all. But I also don't want to just forget it either. So, I search for a happy medium.

One thing I have decided on is that since I live in Washington, I will focus on buying Washington state produce, but I am willing to buy Northwest produce (Washington, Oregon and Idaho), and I will even buy from as far as California. California produce will be mostly in the form of citrus and the occasional avocado. Better, in terms of amount of petroleum used for transport, than from Florida or Chile, right? And I'll try to keep things seasonal as much as possible. (These berries I see in the grocery store right now just ain't right!) And I will buy organic whenever it's a viable option.

See, if I was being really, really strict, I would never see an orange or an avocado again, and I just don't see myself doing that. I have pretty much given up bananas, and other tropical fruits, though. Key word here - tropical. I will probably still allow them once in a great while, because I do love tropical fruit. Especially mangos.

Today I picked up several container gardening books at the library. I've never been all that great with plants, so I haven't even tried to make my own garden in quite a while, but maybe I can make it work this time, since I have this great cause behind it. I'm going to try to grow tomatoes and some herbs at the very least. Any gardening tips would be greatly appreciated!

So far I've had no trouble locating organic and local dairy products, and organic, local free-range chicken and eggs too. They cost a little more, but the quality is definitely worth it. I also found flour from a local, organic, cooperative mill. I'm having trouble finding beef that's clearly marked as local and pasture raised and all that. We don't eat a lot of beef, but when we do, I'd like to be able to know those things about it.

I've started researching some of our local farm and CSA (community sustainable agriculture) options. I'll report more on those as I know more.


tlc illustration said...

Hi Angela,

I'm glad you are still thinking and working towards this. I'm listening to "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" right now while I'm working and am finding it very inspiring. Since we live close enough to have it make sense, if you are willing, would you share actual resource info/links (is shopping at PCC working for you for instance? Which local farmer's market tickles your fancy most? etc...) When I finish this current project (due on the 15th) I want to do some more research into Full Circle Farm ( for organic produce rather than the service I am currently using.

For growing tomatoes or other container gardening, you might want to check out Earth Boxes ( Friends that I know that have used them, swear by them. Especially for deck-gardening.

I grow many-many herbs. I generally have lots of babies and starts in the spring. I'd be happy to share if you are interested. My deck is covered with herb boxes acting as my 'kitchen garden' since I use these primarily for cooking.

Thanks for the inspiration and collaborative posting.

Angela Rockett said...

Thank you, Tara. I'm glad you're enjoying the book and finding it inspiring.

Yes, I definitely want to start sharing specific sources and experiences. I'll start working that in next post. Good to know people are interested.

Thanks so much for the tips. I'll have to check those Earth Boxes out. And sharing your herbs would be great!

girl work studios said...

I read about a man who started living a more simplified, enviromentally conscious life. He was able to make permanent changes only after he let go of the notion that he MUST change, that he had a 'duty' to the world. He altered his life little by little and only focused on changes that gave him pleasure. He put no pressure on himself. I love his philosophy and have tried to incorporate into my own. When I do, the little changes eventually become habits and then I move onto new ones that I'll enjoy making because I want to, not because I feel I have to. I think it's great you're doing this and nothing wrong with enjoying those oranges and avocadoes!

Beef is a tricky one for finding local and sustainably produced. I've had the best luck through word of mouth regarding some small farms, also my organic home delivery service buys directly from a local farmer. I imagine Seattle got some great sources. I just received some information regarding organic farms in the Cascadia region, that includes Vancouver, BC, Seattle and Portland. I haven't gone through it all yet, but I'll let you know if I find some useful info. for you if you're interested.

Angela Rockett said...

Ellen - That's pretty much how I have to approach most things in life. When I start feeling a "should" or a "must" coming on, I know it's time to re-balance and come at it from a different angle.

Definitely interested in the info too. Thanks!

Cynthia said...

I'm in your shoes, Angela - changing my ways - but I do think that GWS has it right. Make little changes that will become habits over time. I haven't stepped into Safeway in 2 weeks time.

While I'm certainly set in Colorado on the beef, chicken and other meats, vegetables are another issue in our semi-arid climate.

I'm also going to buy a share of local produce next growing season. A friend of mine who is also interested said that I had to have a plan towards the peak of harvest. She said that when she did it before, she had so much produce that she couldn't use, she had to can and freeze etc. so that it didn't go to waste.

On a side note, I have a long time friend who is very conservative, and who I don't see very much anymore - she lives in the suburbs and our views are so different. I told her about going organic and she told me that "organic" was a hoax. I almost fell off my chair. She's been listening to too much right wing talk radio.

Angela Rockett said...

Cynthia - I had a similar conversation about organics with an artist I met last year. I too almost fell out of my chair. The real kicker was that she was really on a soapbox about fighting the greenhouse effect. She obviously had no idea that the two are related.

We're pretty lucky here in the Pacific Northwest as far as our climate goes. Lots of things grow here, plant and animal. Maybe not as much as when I lived in California, but still a lot.

andrea said...

Your post brings up an interesting conundrum for me. I noticed in your desire to eat locally that you didn't include BC, even though it's as close or closer than the other spots you mentioned. That leads me to believe that you don't actually have any BC produce available, which isn't surprising. Just yesterday I bought Washington state apples because they were cheaper than local ones and I'm on a really strict budget right now, but it was with a sense of guilt because your state can produce the same product for far cheaper due to much cheaper labour. So the whole question of labour ethics comes into it as well. We get so much American media here that I have discovered that some of my assumptions about homegrown products are erroneous. For example, Americans concerned with hormone-injected chicken suggest you eat only organic, free-range chicken. Makes sense so I was going out of my way to find it (and pay a premium) when I heard that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (our equivalent of the FDA) has never permitted hormones to be used in our poultry. Ack! All this tells me is that the ethics of food production is more than just location, and sorting through it can be a bit tricky.

How desperately I want to shop at Choices or Whole Foods ~ but just can't do it. Yet.

Angela Rockett said...

Actually, we do get Canadian produce here (it doesn't say whether it's BC or not), and I do consider BC part of the Northwest. Didn't mean to leave it out. And hey, don't feel too bad - Washington apples rock! The labor ethics is so complex, I'm not sure how qualified I am to talk about it, but I'll try to discuss what I do understand as needed.

I'll be talking about budget as I go along too, because mine is quite tight as well, and I want this to be about how anybody can do this, at least to some extent, not just rich people and/or people with land, etc. I think it's important to do what you can with what you've got to work with, not to make it feel like it's stressing your resources too much.

I don't actually shop at Whole Foods. They're far too expensive for me. I'll try to talk about where I'm shopping in my next post.

As for the organic chicken, I really don't want extra hormones in my food, but my real concern is that they're cage free and not fed mashed up bits of livestock. This leads to a healthier chicken that doesn't need all those hormones in the first place. And they do taste better. And the local thing is mostly about cutting down on petroleum usage.

Tracy said...

Hi Angela! Those pretty red things in your picture look like rosehips to me --- basically the fruit that grows where roses were flowers. They're edible, but I usually see them sold in dried form in herbal teas. I have no idea what the fresh ones are like, but maybe this year I'll be brave enough to try the ones that grow in my yard (if the roses survived the winter; I neglect them something awful because I'm much more excited about my more obviously food-growing plants).