Since our July issue was all about going green, we asked our writer Mandi to try to go green (or greener). Here is what she came up with!!
You Are What You Eat
At Home Tennessee writer Mandi Gaskin takes on the challenge of saving the Earth by asking the question “What’s for Dinner?” Text Mandi Gaskin, PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of Bmofoto.net
I am a good girl. I recycle, I change out my light bulbs to energy-saving fluorescents, I even carpool with annoying people (you know who you are) in order to cut down on pollution. So when the editors of At Home Tennessee asked me to single-handedly save the Earth (ok, I may be exaggerating a little) I thought I had it in the biodegradable bag.
But after one trip to the grocery store on my normal shopping routine I knew I was in trouble. Taking on this new eco challenge forced me to take a closer look at the impact my food was having on the Earth, and it wasn’t pretty. Seeing the mounds of meat, fruits and vegetables available all year long at any given grocery store used to conjure thoughts like, “God Bless America: Land of the Free, Home of Convenience” but were now causing a slight wave of guilt and overindulgence. Were strawberries really meant to be eaten in December? Should we be eating chicken at every single meal? And are my bell peppers supposed to be the size of my firstborn child? I knew my conscience was trying to tell me something, so on the way home I did what any normal American would do—I attempted to snuff my inner voice with hormone-ridden chicken strips. And when those crispy fried animal parts didn’t subside my nagging guilt, I knew it was time to make a change.
I know what you’re thinking; you think I am about to tell you that I gave up all meat and dairy, moved to a commune and am now growing my very own tomatoes. But you are severely underestimating my innate laziness. You see, I want to save the earth, but I don’t necessarily want to work to do this. So I found myself in a whole new challenging predicament. How can I save the planet and still have time to watch the Real Housewives? So the next day, while Teresa and Danielle are tearing out each other’s weave, I go online and ask Google how I can be a better consumer in the world which I am trying to save. And the answers actually surprised me. Sure, there were the extremist websites that preached giving up your skillet for a diet made up of raw food (no thanks) or fencing your backyard to make room for Wilbur (call me a coward, but I prefer not to look my dinner in the eye before turning him into, well, dinner). But there were also very reasonable options to leaving a smaller footprint on the environment when it comes to dining, and it can basically be summed up in two words: farmers’ market. In supporting local farmers through these venues we are not only able to cut down on the global effects of shipping bulk products; we can also bring back humane treatment of the animals we eat and restore the balance in the food chain that has been lost in the mass consumerism that makes up this great country. I liked the idea that I could buy all my favorite foods minus the guilt, but I was still hesitant about the cost and more importantly, my time. So on Monday, we loaded up some empty coolers and made our way down to the local Farmers’ Market in Nashville where I found a scene that was absolutely delightful. There were droves of people from all walks of life shopping with their families, talking to the vendors and picking out fresh-from-the-farm cuisine. Sure, it wasn’t the air-conditioned, fluorescent world of my previous grocery trips. It was hot, and there were flies in abundance, but I was able to shake the hands and speak to the folks who had taken the time to carefully grow the vegetables or humanely slaughter the meat on their farms that I was responsible for feeding to my family. Not to mention all without heavily impacting the earth with pesticides or transportation emissions or breaking the budget. And best of all? I made it home just in time for the Real Housewives.
Find a local farmers’ market near you at localharvest.org, certifiedhumane.org or eatwellguide.org.
When Mandi is not writing she is busy being a mom to the cutest little boy on the planet and perfecting her skill as a Professional Nag to her husband, Ashley. You can follow her on her blog, freedingo.blogspot.com and be sure to check back monthly for her columns in At Home Tennessee.