Local and Seasonal Eating 101

As a dietitian, I got into sustainability via my food choices. As I went through nutrition school, I began to really ponder my food philosophy. What did I believe about my food? How did I want to interact with the food system? How did I want to participate in the greater picture - in the global picture?

I have always felt a deep love for the earth and once I saw the correlation between my food choices and their environmental impact- I was all in.

I STARTED my instagram out of this love. A love for local and seasonal foods. Supporting our local food culture. Supporting local farmers and growers. Supporting those who are working with the earth- not taking from it.

I realized there were many environmental and personal benefits to eating locally and seasonally!

The local food movement is an alternative to the global food model where food travels long distances to reach our supermarket shelves. “Food Miles” have a big environmental impact. Transporting food contributes to greenhouse gas emission and therefore, global warming/climate change.

Local food also promotes a relationship between the consumer and the producer. Very little gives me greater happiness than Saturday morning farmer’s markets! Being able to speak directly to the people who produce your food is a priceless joy that relatively few take the time to invest in. 

When you buy local meats, veggies, dairy etc, you know that you are doing what you can to further small business, promote environmental health, support animal welfare, and of course, invest in the health of your family. 

Benefits of eating locally

  1. Reduced food miles and therefore, reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. When buying locally, you by default, eat in season. This means your food is going to have maximum flavor and nutritional value!

  3. You are supporting local small business and your local economy!

  4. You help maintain farmland and green space in your area and therefore, you contribute to regenerative agriculture!

  5. You get to try new and fun produce specific to your area! I’m telling you- nothing is more culinarily inspiring than a stroll at the market!

  6. As you buy more local foods, you will find you naturally buy less industrialized and processed foods- which is a win for you and the environment!

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If you’re new to all of this, I know it can seem quite overwhelming! LIKE WHERE DO I EVEN START?! So here are my tips for local eating! 

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  1. Know what is in season in your region. This is a great resource for that. This is especially helpful to keep in mind when you are shopping at a grocery store! (If you are shopping at the farmer’s market, it is by default going to be seasonal.) If something is in season in your area, that probably means that it had to travel less distance to get to your grocery store shelves! For example, if it is summer in the Carolinas, opt for the summer squash vs the butternut squash! When a product is not in season, it will either be grown in a hot house or shipped in from some place in the world that it is in season. The taste and quality difference between something that is vine ripened and something that is shelf ripened is undeniable.

  2. Go to the farmer’s market! Do a quick google search (use this site!) for farmers markets in your area- typically they are on Saturday mornings.

  3. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). These programs are designed to connect local farmers/growers with the consumers. Typically, you will purchase “a subscription” for the season or year. Local farmers will put together a basket of produce that varies based on availability and season. (How fun is that?!) Read more about them here.

  4. Find your local co-op! Co-ops are basically locally run grocery stores. They are a great place to find local and organic foods at a less costly price. See what options are in your area at localharvest.org.

  5. Plant a garden. If this sounds like too much work, simply growing your own herbs on a window is not only as LOCAL AS IT GETS, it also saves you money!

  6. Stop at that random farm stand on the side of the road.

  7. Go to U-Picks! Berries and peaches are a very popular food group for this type of thing. It’s also a fun experience for kiddos! 

  8. Support farm to table restaurants! Visit restaurants that practice farm to table by supporting and purchasing from local growers and famers.

  9. Invest in organic and fair trade when possible. Probably not everything you might need can be bought locally. Such as coffee, chocolate, sugar, etc. When this is the case, I encourage buying organic and fair trade when possible  and within your budget! Fair trade will help promote communities through agricultural development and ensure a fair wage for their labor and product.


I hope this was helpful for you all!

Let me know in the comments below! And share my graphic with your friends- I’d much appreciate it! <3

xo,

meg

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Remaining Optimistic In the Face of the Climate Crisis and Other Environmental Issues

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People often ask me, “how do you remain optimistic in this environmental space?”

In a sense, people want to know- how are we who care about the earth so deeply, suppose to live without feeling the weight of the world on us at all times?

Every single day, we are bombarded with stories of destruction, injustice, pollution etc. For many of us, these stories stick with us. We marinate and dwell on them. They ruin our day. They break our hearts.

For many of us, we feel so overwhelmed that we are paralyzed with sorrow and fear. I’ve been in that place. And to be honest, sometimes I’m still in that place. This past week was one of those times for me. I felt like I kept getting hit with another discouraging environmental story over and over again. From Carnival cruise ships dumping their trash into the ocean, to stories of forests being cut down for Kleenex.

It seems like the environmental challenges - from climate change to deforestation, are insurmountable. 

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So this morning, I wept. And I asked God- what am I suppose to tell people, when I don’t even have it figured out myself?

I cried aloud- “Where are you in this, God? There is so much injustice in this world and it seems like you are doing nothing to stop it.”

Even just typing this I have tears streaming down my face. It would be so much easier to walk away from this platform. Walk away from my passions and convictions. To live in a bubble where I didn’t think about the woes of the world. Living in ignorance truly would be bliss. And yet, it would be cowardice and against what we are called to do.

Because I know my God is good. I know it breaks my God’s heart over and over as humans pillage and destroy His creation. Because, in fact, God is nature. He created the world - the animals, the mountains, the trees, the ocean, from the outpouring of His own heart and His own spirit. How could He not care?

I believe that God weeps with us in these moments. I don’t believe He’s turning a blind eye to it all. God is nothing but GOOD, and anything other would be contrary to His character. 

So as I was walking my dog, thinking on these things, I was reminded of this:

A few days ago, I posted a story on my Instagram about a huge oak tree in the neighboring yard. It was getting cut down that morning. Watching it come down up tore me up inside and I had to leave the house to maintain my sanity.

I desperately wanted to know why this beautiful tree was cut down. Coincidentally, I ran into my neighbor in the alley later that day. I kindly asked her about the tree. She said this:

“The tree was having issues with some of it’s branches- they kept falling off. It was a heartbreaking decision to make, but I was so scared that one of my young boys would be in the backyard when one of them came down. I didn’t want to run that risk.”

In hearing this, I had immediately relief and a peace in my soul. She cut the tree down in order to minimize risk to a little human’s life- and I respect that very much.

The part of this story that melted my heart:

She continued to say, “My youngest son (probably about 8 years old), sobbed about it coming down. He said, ‘Mom, we’re killing the tree and everything that lives in it”. 

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I tried not to tear up and start crying in from of the mom but in that moment, I was overwhelmed with hope in humanity again. This little boy- is like many young people being raised up today- he loves the earth and wants to preserve it. I was reminded that it is people like him who are going to save the Earth and continue to work that many before us have started.

God reminded me in this- that even though we may not always see it, He is raising up a generation that loves the earth and will protect it. God does not call any of us individually to carry the entire weight of the world, but when many of us care simultaneously, amazing things happen and will continue to happen. 

We have no choice but to be optimistic in this time. In my opinion, you can’t be a pessimist to care about environmental issues- otherwise, it will eat you alive and you will be crushed under it. You will lack motivation to do anything to promote any sort of change- because you would have already given up. 

It’s not “game over”, friends- it’s game time.

But now for a few practical things I do to remain positive (read: sane) in this space:

  1. Monitor what you intake. You don’t have to be exposed to and read about anything and everything that is going on environmentally. Know your limits and censor yourself. If you’re beginning to feel down or heavy or discouraged, maybe time to add a little more censorship. To walk away and take a break.

  2. Balance out the good with the bad. Believe it or not, there is SO much good that is being done in the world! There are people who care greatly about the environmental and conservation issues and exposing ourself to good stories like this is inspiring to say the least. I literally search for good environmental news such as articles like this one if I need a little pep in my step that day.

  3. Believe and KNOW that your actions make a difference. Weather you see it or not, your everyday decisions to take your own water bottle, change to LED lightbulbs, reduce fast fashion consumption, buy less plastic etc. makes a difference. Never ever doubt it. Know that your actions also encourage others to evaluation and change their own choices- and this is how we’re going to change the world for the better.

What do you do to remain optimistic in this space? Leave it in the comments below!