Recently, Ruchi posed some interesting questions about sustainable living, blogging over time, and finding balance. Her posts are sparking lots of thought-provoking comments and discussion. One of the bloggers mentioned that it can be hard to live sustainably if you get "all hard core psycho about it." This and several of the other comments on the two posts really resonated with me.
As I've considered the 98% Local challenge I posed for myself in this coming week, I have come to realize that, once again, I am going overboard. I have a tendency to do this, as regular readers know from past challenges, and it is always a difficult decision whether to stick with it to salvage my pride or back off to salvage my sanity. This tendency to bite off more than I can chew is nothing new. Way back in high school, I really put myself in a bind during my senior year.
One of my courses was Biology Independent Study. I had to come up with and carry out a research project, supervised by my teacher. Since there were regular fires in the nearby mountains, we decided it would be interesting to compare the recovery from fires several years apart in the same canyon. Initially the plan was to compare the plant life in small plots within each area. Pretty soon, though, I got carried away and proposed including far more: insects, reptiles, small mammals, and birds. My instructor, unfortunately, was thrilled. I soon realized that I was looking at way more work than was realistic for this kind of project; it would have been helpful if the instructor had reined in my enthusiasm.
As each day progressed, my anxiety level rose. My ego was unwilling to admit my error, though, and I kept plugging away despite the growing panic that I would be unable to complete any portion of the study because I was overwhelmed. How did I get myself out of this dilemma? Well, I lucked out. Due to some other circumstances, it proved best for me to drop out of school, take the GED exam to get a high school equivalency diploma, and head off to college a semester early. Whew, got myself out of that jam!
So, how does that relate to now? After a lot of anxiety and thought, I've decided I'm really not ready to jump into the deep end of 98% local eating. I'm not sure what percentage of my meals are currently comprised of local food but it's probably between 50 and 75%. To go from that level to 21 meals in a row that must be 98% local is getting all hard core psycho about it, especially when I'll also be dealing with jury duty this week.
Yesterday, I'd convinced myself not to even bother trying this experiment. I wrote and deleted three versions of a post to that affect. Today, I've decided I will proceed but with changes to my rules for the challenge. Instead of only allowing myself salt and spices from non-local sources, I will approach it from the other direction. The main components of my meals will be derived from local foods. Minor components will be local, if possible, but still allowable if not.
This will open the doors to a more reasonable approach, for me, to eating locally. For example, instead of having to eat my locally grown wheat berries whole or cracked, I can use the ground flour to make bread products. Tortillas need baking powder, bread needs dry yeast (because I don't currently have a sourdough starter), and muffins need baking powder, salt, and my flax seed egg substitute. None of those are available from local sources.
With this change, I am no longer dreading the next week. I think this is a more balanced approach in my attempts to increase the amount of my food that is locally grown. I plan to share my meals here throughout the week and will note what is local and what is not.
For those of you who strive to eat a local diet, I'd welcome hearing about how you choose what to include and exclude. How much local is good enough? What foods do you still eat that are not available locally? What non-local ingredients (such as baking soda) do you still buy?