Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Goodbye McDonald's

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2008 at 7:59 PM

Dear Faithful Readers,

I am reporting to you from the brink of a monumental precipice. As I sit at my desk, picking the remnants of a Starburst fruit chew from my teeth, I’m looking ahead to the future — a future in which there are no starburst, dots, tootsie rolls, skittles, twizzlers, jelly beans, Mike & Ikes, Swedish fish or a single Reese’s peanut butter product. Only the cavities they leave behind. (How will I survive without gelatin, hydrogenated palm kernel oil or high fructose corn syrup?)

Dear readers, I’m about to take a flying leap into local eating. If you’ve read my cover story, “Beyond Organic,” in this week’s Gambit, you should know that eating strictly local means eating only food produced within a 200-mile radius of your home. (Last time I checked, we didn’t have any candy trees in Louisiana.)

Throughout the course of researching my story, I became convinced of the benefits of eating local. That’s not to say I wouldn’t sometimes prefer the comfort of a USDA certified organic label or conversely, the sweet, sugary goodness of movie-theater treats; nor does it mean that I’ve got any more willpower than the average consumer.

In reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which she chronicled her family’s attempt to eat local for one entire year, I began to wonder if it would be possible for me to do so, especially in a climate with such a nice, long growing season like ours.

I’m also interested in knowing if it’s really and truly more expensive to eat local, which I tend to think it isn’t. When Kingsolver calculated her family’s total expenses at the end of her very scientifically detailed experiment, she discovered on average each meal cost her family only .50 cents per person per meal! Granted, she did have a pretty good garden to work with from the start.

I want you to know, tiny audience, that I am not a woman of great means, I don’t have a garden (yet), nor do I know how to cook at all. This will be the narrative of a mid 20’s SWF (well, actually I do have a boyfriend who cooks) renting a tiny apartment in the Marigny, written with all the apathetic solipsistic inertia of my generation. It starts today.

The rules of the game:

1. Only locally produced fruits and vegetables allowed

2. Only locally produced milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and meat — furthermore, only from those farmers who practice humane animal husbandry, i.e. pastured, free range, grass-fed animals and heritage breeds.

3. Only locally produced bread. (This I pledge to fulfill to the best of my ability, but will be difficult because I don’t know where to get whole-wheat unprocessed flour locally.)

4. Some baking ingredients such as vanilla, almond extract, baking soda, will be purchased organic if not available locally. I will try to buy as close to home as possible.

5. If I eat out at restaurants for the purpose of socializing, having some fun and maintaining my sanity, I will stick to iconic, non-chain restaurants and local Louisiana/Cajun/creole/French cuisine.

Oh, and I’m not giving up wine. Sorry.

Stay tuned for more "Goodbye McDonald's" entries on my attempt to go local.

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