Friday, October 11, 2013

Another Food Post

Grocery shopping is the worst.

I've learned to adapt, for the most part. For the glaring overhead fluorescents, I wear a hat and have my sunglasses handy. For the obnoxious piped in music, shrieky fellow customers, and inter-store announcements, I bring earplugs. For the nausea triggered by the car ride to the store, and then the stench of the laundry/cleaning/air freshener/perfume sections and other patrons, I keep ginger or mints on me. For the overstimulation of all of the above, plus deciphering product labels, I medicate liberally beforehand. I always bring a sweater, in case the air conditioning is too cold.

Besides physical preparations, there's some mental prep involved in even simple trips. I have to stay focused, go straight to what I need most because there's no telling how long I'll last. I have to stay as calm as possible, so I can't let the guy who was weirdly aggressive about getting around me to the soup bother me. Once I've finished getting what I need to get, I skedaddle the heck outta there and wait in the car for my man to check out. Thank you, Man, without you, I would surely end every shopping trip by crying or threatening to barf on someone.

Our local CSAs don't come to your door, but they sometimes have a "local" drop-off point, which I may or may not be able to make it to every week, as migraines and gas money would dictate. If I missed it, I'd lose my food, having already paid for it. There's a chance that they'd accommodate me, make an exception and deliver to my door, or allow me to pick it up on off days, but I haven't yet explored those options, because there is one more hurdle to the CSAs that I have to overcome and that is money. I just don't have enough.

In a perfect world, food stamps would be redeemable for all the fresh, local, organic produce a person could eat. (When the government isn't shut down and people are actually receiving them, that is.)

But in the real world, we make do. Which, in our case, means making the most of our local (within 10 miles), but rather pricey grocery stores, the slightly cheaper chain, Safeway, that is more than half an hour from home on winding roads of barf, and costco -- which is the furthest distance, at about 45 minutes from home, but it's the best option when we can make the trip.

And, we are so incredibly, astoundingly lucky that we have the option to visit a free farmer's market three times a month, and we usually make it to at least one. It's hosted by Mountain Community Resources, an amazing organization that helps people with all sorts of services, but these farmer's markets are the best thing I've ever seen a charity do.

We've visited food pantries before, and while we'd usually come away with enough food to live on for at least a week, this wasn't food that keeps people healthy. It was all cans and cereals and processed meals and more than one time there wasn't a thing in the bag that didn't have hfcs or some kind of preservative in it. That food was depressing and unhealthy. I would almost have been better off not eating at all. Almost.

Of course, I needed to eat. So, I did. And I felt terrible all the time. I clearly remember the despair I used to feel on nights when the fridge was lean and I struggled to make a dinner that would actually nourish us.

I never, ever forget how lucky I am now to be able to take advantage of all this donated fresh food. Sometimes the produce is less than stellar; one time half the strawberries were moldy, and another the tomatoes were about to burst, they were so ripe, but on the whole, they offer quality produce, and you can't beat the price. Last week, they had massive, perfect portabello mushrooms, and brightly colored, delightfully misshapen bell peppers of all colors, and it was better than christmas. That haul inspired me to make some phenomenal vegan enchiladas.

Oh yeah, I've cut out even more of the animal products, and I'm happier about it than I thought I would be. No cheese at all anymore, very few eggs, and little dairy otherwise, I feel better without it, and don't miss it at all, surprisingly.

I've been thinking in a more conscious way about the products I buy and where they come from, and what effects those products have on me, the economy, the environment, and what impact I'm personally having on this planet. I'm a little obsessed with personal responsibility right now. I want my impact on this world to be beneficial, not harmful, I want to leave a positive mark, if any. So, first I stopped buying the regular eggs (because I'm against chicken torture), then I stopped eating cheese (made with rennet, which is baby cow stomach enzymes! WHY!) and my gut started working much more smoothly, and my skin got this unreal glow to it that I haven't seen since I was a teenager, without the zits (well, still a few, but that's ok) and then I dropped a pant-size or two within two weeks and my energy BOOMED.

I'm hiking our hill most days now, and every now and again I'll go up more than once. Pushups, situps and yoga are happening more and more frequently as well, and even on bad days, I'm trying to do low-key stuff, just to keep my body limber. I even ran in place for like, ten minutes the other day! Unbelievable!

Baked goods are still my dairy-downfall, because I'm not eating them often enough to warrant searching out and testing vegan recipes. I've been indulging in the standard fare, whatever my boyfriend brings home, save for the ice cream. But let me tell you, vegans aren't missing a thing when it comes to ice cream. We have this stuff in our local grocery:

It's called Luna & Larry's Organic Coconut Bliss and every flavor I've tried of their delightful coconut ice cream has been an impossible pleasure. The chocolate doesn't taste like coconut at all to me, but the less powerful flavors will definitely have at least an undertaste (if that's a thing? I think it's a thing) of fresh coconut, not that I ever complained. It's pricey, so it's not a frequent treat, but oh is it worth every penny. It's better than dairy ice cream and everyone should eat this. Unless you have a coconut allergy, like my poor boyfriend does. Doomed to a life of dairy ice cream, that one. More for me.