This morning, my dear friend Yukie and I woke up early and did a quick lap around Madonna mt. It was dark when we started, and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. The pic doesn't quite capture how stunning those red clouds were, but you get the idea.
Madonna mt.? It's practically in my backyard. That's right. BECAUSE I LIVE DOWNTOWN. See, I'm urban now, but in SLO, urban means you have a giant, kick-ass singletrack-laden mountain jutting out from downtown.
Urban means I walk everywhere. Meeting with my restaurant client? Oh yeah, I stroll over. It's not even worth my time getting my commuter bike out because they're just that close.
Post office? Block away. Sports store? Half block. Same goes for coffee shops, banks, clothing, the SLO County Bike Kitchen, pretty much everything you can imagine is just a few blocks from my door.
And the best part? The famous SLO Thursday Farmers' Market. If you've never been to this town, okay. Wait. If you've never been to this town, first of all, it's pretty much the top #1 place you have to see before you die, so you should definitely come. Anyhow, Farmers is every Thursday evening, and we're treated to a cornucopia of fresh, sustainably grown produce, sold directly from the farmers. Thousands--and that's no exaggeration--of people flood the main downtown street every Thursday, and people clamber and stand in line to buy that amazing, local produce.
A mix of factors lately have influenced my own locovore lifestyle. I've been a big believer in eating whole food, like real, not stuffed with additives food, for years now. Michael Pollan is my author-hero. This summer, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by another one of my favs, Barbara Kingsolver, and I was reminded of how I need to focus on local as much as I do on food that's not stuffed with corn syrup.
Living here on the Central Coast, especially, you have NO EXCUSE not to eat locally. There are no fewer than 3 farmers' markets, every week, just in the city of SLO. That doesn't even count the surrounding beach towns. And, with our amazing climate, we're treated to a variety of crops, year round. We don't have to sustain ourselves on canned goods through the winter if we want to truly eat local.
This past spring/summer, while living in the suburbs (which is another blog post--maybe I'll call it "How suburbs are choking us off from community") I had some land to work with. The roommates and I planted a big garden, which I was all excited about at first, until I realized that I'm not really the gardening, nurturing type of person. It was a spectacular Garden of Failure. I can't grow tomatoes for the same reason I could never be a mother. Nurture gene? Not in my DNA.
But that doesn't mean I'm plum out of luck as a locovore. I'm definitely in the "support your local farmer camp," not the "grow all of your own food!" camp. And I'm totally okay with that.
Every time I go to farmers and fill my bag with the season's bounty, I feel this amazing sense of connectedness and pleasure. I am so blessed to be able to stroll down the street and support a local farmer. My diet is rich with the best fruits of the land, and I save money by not driving to a supermarket and paying a premium for packaged lettuce or produce that's been trucked in and stored in warehouses.
I can currently live entirely off of my purchases from Farmers. I buy enough to feed me for the week--I even get my eggs from a local vendor. The only purchase I have to make at a store is soymilk and coffee. Still trying to figure out that one ... I can buy locally roasted coffee, but the milk part is trickier.
My next step will be joining one of the numerous CSAs in town (Community Supported Agriculture, for those of you not familiar). I'm currently in the process of setting up one of my clients as a CSA farmer, so I would like to try the experience out myself.
If we all attempt to be just a little more connected, to be a little more aware, we will make a difference. Support your local small businesses. Choose to live in the center of the community, not boxed away in a housing development. Find out where your farmers' markets are. Connect.