Monday, January 21, 2013

Project Locavore...

have you ever read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle??  if not, you should...

i have been on a barbara kingsolver kick for a while now. my first encounter with her was when we read her book "poisonwood bible" for one of our first book clubs. is a truly thought provoking book, but aside from a great read, you really learn a lot about the politics in africa & our (america's) part.  though her books are all very different, they all share the common themes of the importance of both family & community, along with social, economic & environmental issues.  all of which are important to me, i suppose that is why we "clicked". ;)

kingsolver also makes sure to double check every fact she includes in her books & has said (in her book, small wonder) that she has stopped reading many books in the past because the author didn't bother to do their research.  this is extremely important to me because i, like so many other, read to expand my horizons.  my reading time is short, as you might guess, and so this allows me yet another way to "multi-task"...reading a book i love, while gleaning a little more knowledge about the world @ large.

@ any rate, i decided to read all of her books & am currently working thorough the last bit of animal, vegetable miracle.

background, barbara & her family of 4 decide to engage on a 1-year "food" journey, eliminating all foods from their lives that they cannot either make (or) buy within a 100 mile radius of their home.  (when taking food, in our present society, 100 miles is *nothing*!!!!)

@ any rate, we do our best to eat healthy & cook from scratch, but there is always "more" that you can do.  this book seems to be the natural, next step, for our family. 

& from there, i posed the question to our boys to base a homeschool unit study around the subject...

we shop @ farmer's markets & are lucky enough to have a really nice one, given the size of our town. but i want them to be more involved in the "why's" behind we do what we do & really have a say in where we are headed as this will affect all of us, as a family.

we began last week by taking inventory of every item in our pantry, fridge/freezer, & spice cabinet, reflecting on our findings along the way.

(we each have our own notebook to write down our findings, thoughts, ideas, etc as we work our way through this process.)

days #1-3 were spent taking inventory of everything that we had "in stock".  on day #4, i printed out a 10x18 photo of a U.S map & we charted our findings.
the map wasn't extremely detailed. in most cases it just had the state capitals, so if the exact city wasn't on there that we needed, we just added a dot to that state.  this is a bit vague, but it will still allow us a good idea of where our food is coming from.

today, day #5, we reviewed & discussed our map.  we were all surprised that more of our fruits/vegetables didn't come from outside of the US.  pomegranates, for example, are grown here in the US.  they have always seemed a bit more exotic to me...  we are curious about the story behind the spices.  the majority of ours come from either mccormick (or) frontier (typical for bulk spices & health food stores).  but where do these really come from??  again, they seem to exotic to be grown here in states.

we did a bit of math, figuring out what percent of our "inventory" was from outside of the US., what percent was "unmappable" (these products listed only where the product was distributed from & *not* where is was manufactured).  this was aydin's first go @ percentages...

we discussed what would be a realistic goal for our 'local" region.  barbara's family used a 100 mile radius (if you look on our map, it is the smallest circle, drawn in pencil).

it really puts things into perspective, doesn't it??  it almost seems impossible, although i know they did it, really & truly.

the boys & i talked & @ first they wanted to go with a 600 mile radius & me with a 300 mile radius.  in the end, we compromised on 450 miles.  for orin, the clincher (for some reason) was the spices.  most of our spices were mccormick & their plant is based in hunt valley, maryland. 

this is fun.  i am a bit of a "throw caution to the wind/extremist/cold turkey" kinda girl, when it comes to new adventures, so i am glad that i am working with the boys on this...moderation is a bit more their style & i feel that this will help the coming changes be met with a more open mind.

tomorrow, we'll remap some of the vaguer places to see just what we have been buying that is still 'acceptable' & see what we need to begin researching to find new source (or) ways to make our own.

we'll each pick a favorite food & learn a bit more about where it comes from, how it is grown, etc...the "real story".

the littles are actually working their way through a less intense version of "project locavore", i'll post about that @ some point soon.  i know we are going to learn about bananas, as ehren is very disappointed that those are getting scratched off our list...:(

until then...

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