I shopped differently yesterday.
I perused the produce, looking for the bright green “LOCAL” signs. There were few, compared to the “CONVENTIONAL” AND “ORGANIC” produce labels.
But before I purchased any produce, I grabbed a veggie chorizo/egg breakfast taco and a cup of coffee and sat at the window counter to begin the rewarding and enjoyable task of planning my week’s meals.
Pen in hand, I scribbled the days of the week, using my Ical as a guide to remember which nights hubby would be home for dinner and which I would be and which both of us would be. Sounds crazier than it is, I promise.
Usually, however, when I shop, I have a list in hand with my meal plan for the week already written. I sometimes attempt to get the locally grown produce and typically give up, thinking there’s no way I can consistently do so because of the following reasons:
- I want to constantly expose the children to new vegetables. Though they are good produce-eaters, they often prefer fruit over veggies. It’s seemingly hard to get daily fruits in when there isn’t much in season but apples and pears….or so I thought before these last 2 weeks.
- I want to increase the amount of produce we eat, which means I would need more variety than any one given Texas season bestows upon us.
- Mostly, I want to preserve nutritional daily goals “allowances” of what I believe to be a balanced diet. I use the guidelines of the Sustainable Food Center’s “Happy Plate” concept, or the new and improved USDA food pyramid (though the former is better IMHO). See this fascinating discussion about this and food politics, an increasing interest of mine, right here and here.
However, I’m going to embrace a few dietary challenges this month with our family, mostly brought on by hubby’s new Paleo diet**see below. And remember, I have one vegetarian child too. The rest of us are pretty much omnivores, though I consider myself a flexitarian. And since we are making these changes, I’ve also decided to make a stronger attempt to shop for locally grown produce. Hence, the above grocery shopping process occurred.
So this is our plan for about a month:
- we will attempt to shop for produce from local farms mostly
- we will further attempt to shop for only seasonal produce (obviously these 2 points go hand in hand)
- if not seasonal, we will definitely stay 100% organic
- all meats/poultry/eggs/seafood will come from sustainably raised sources and local when available
- we will accommodate a Paleo diet**-see below, the opposite of a vegetarian diet, while accommodating the vegetarian diet simultaneously ( the one thing they have in common is the abundance of vegetables).
- we will do all this all the while continuing to cook the ethnic foods that we like, especially Indian food, which means straying away from “typical” Indian curries.
OMG. How am I going to do this?
Who ever heard of grain-free Indian food? (I’m holding off on Indian food this week. Going to try next week.)
So I am embracing this as a challenge. And challenges are fun for Type A people like myself.
**I’m new to Paleo, and still learning about it. But its essence is that it follows a “caveman” diet philosophy: a hunter-gatherer diet. It’s heavy on protein and meat/seafood, very heavy on produce, dairy-free, grain-free (not only GLUTEN free!), and legume-free. As you can see, this makes my life very very hard since now for a month, since I have to accommodate 2 major opposing diets: vegetarian (a child, at that), and a Paleo-follower.
This is what I planned for this week, and walking through the grocery store I struggled to avoid picking up “easy” conventionally grown produce like out of season bell peppers and out of season berries. For snacking and lunchboxes, I purchased persimmons, apples, pears, grapefruit, and oranges: all local YAY! The three things I purchased that were not local and not in season were bananas, avocados, broccoli, and pre-washed spinach.
- Monday (by the way we all follow Meatless Monday by request of my 6 year old): bean and cheese enchiladas/ zucchini and spinach enchiladas. Mr. Paleo had enchilada filling only with 2 fried eggs on top. So he had his protein and veggies that were grain-free. All produce and eggs and corn tortillas were local, but the spinach was not. I couldn’t find local greens except mustard greens, which I didn’t want to put in an enchilada!
- Tuesday: fish en papillote, with julienned vegetables, roasted butternut squash, eggplant something, and quinoa pilaf. I added the quinoa so that the vegetarian gets her complete protein.
- Wednesday: easy day. Mr. Paleo is not gonna be home for dinner. Kids and I can have something easy like veggie chili (though no locally grown bellpeppers) and a side of roasted okra.
- Thursday: okra and shrimp (Gulf shrimp but previously frozen) gumbo. This night I’ll have to make something separate for the kids, even though I’m usually against it, in addition to the gumbo since they probably won’t eat enough of it (or any). So either leftovers or pasta with jarred marinara and a side of veggies.
- Friday: Just the kids and I again, so maybe we’ll order pizza and a salad. Naan pizza would be perfect, but I’ll need to go to the store for the naan and paneer. I make them eat spinach pizza when we order pizza and make a salad as well. We eat enough “regular” pizza out at birthday parties, etc…