Are you local?

I have been wracking my brain in the past year, trying to figure out what went wrong.

We moved from England three years ago. Both my husband and I were of a healthy weight and without any medical conditions. We never changed our eating habits as such and we live a very similar lifestyle we did in Europe. I spend most of my days outdoors, I go to the gym and I took up running last year. Yet I have put on 40 pounds! I have terrible insomnia and I was asked by an older lady on Monday if Little J was my grandson! For the record: I am turning 35 this month.

We eat at least our 5 vegetables and fruits a day. My husband cooks dinner from scratch every evening and during the day I make healthy choices for Little J and I. We even cook for our dog every single day! If you open our fridge and pantry most products are labeled healthy, natural, low fat. We don’t buy any frozen food and we always choose fancy chocolates and desserts. I really thought we were doing well.

Initially I blamed my weight gain on my business and blogging. On most evenings when I put Little J to bed I edit photo sessions and catch up on blog reading and I might be snacking somewhere along the way. So I forced myself to walk away from the computer by 9PM every day. And no food after dinner.

I thought maybe I didn’t exercise enough. So I started going to the gym 5 times a week and got a personal trainer. That is in edition to riding, running and hiking with the boys. No weight loss.

Honestly I felt like such a looser. I always suspected food in US supermarkets is different then what we used to eat before. It looks and tastes similar, but the shelf life is 5 times longer. The packaging has a lot of misleading labels such as fat free, natural, sugar free. And most of the ingredients are unpronounceable. No matter how hard I might look for something that looks right and reminds me of the food I grew up eating, there is not much in the supermarket.

When I was Little J’s age milk went bad in 3 days. We brought bread at the bakery daily, because it was rock hard in a day or two. Yogurts lasted a few days, meat was cut for us at the butchers and grandma prepared it the same day. Cherries were in stores in May, strawberries in June, other berries in the summer and apples in autumn. We got oranges for Christmas because eating fruit in winter was a special treat. There were no salads in store in winter so we ate canned beetroot and pickles until our lips turned white from all the vinegar. All food was a treat, not just dessert. I looked forward to different seasons that brought variety to the table.

My son eats raspberries every day. We have a farm on the island where we pick them in the summer. The other day we drove by and he asked me how come the supermarket still has that many left if raspberry farm closed in autumn. Honestly, I don’t know. I have no idea where our food comes from. No idea who makes it and what on earth they put in it.

The truth is I am not one for diets and label reading and researching if the cows that made my milk are pumped with drugs and fed corn. My husband joked not long ago that we drive by a pasture full of sheep, but there is never any lamb at our supermarket. That made me think. I know that farmers in our area treat the animals humanely. I know they all graze and live outdoors. I see them with my own eyes. So why am I buying a generic brand at the supermarket??!

So starting today we decided to eat only what we can see around us. What farmers have grown on our island, what small family owned business have produced in our state. It took me only an hour of googling to find:

- someone to deliver fresh milk and bread to my door every week
- someone to prepare a box of locally grown vegetables for weekly pick up
- someone who makes fresh gourmet cheeses on the island from happy, free roaming goats
- farm that raises and sells beef, pork and lamb. All fed exclusively on their own grown feed.
- fresh, free range eggs minutes away from my home
- a local beekeeper that makes amazing honey
- locally sourced and milled flour
- a place to buy daily catch from the ocean

I know we are lucky to live on an island where we have all these available. But before I took the time to find them, I thought farmers market in the summer is the only way to eat local food. I am not saying this is the key to our health, but I strongly feel it is a step in the right direction. If you have the time, look for what is available in your area. Support the local growers and producers. Frequent only restaurants that are supplied by local farmers. I can assure you that everything we will be buying from now on is not significantly more expensive then similar items in the supermarket. We cut out the middleman, transportation and packaging and I am happy to pay that difference to the farmer herself.

I will keep you posted on our journey to eating real food again. If you live close to me and want to know who I am buying these from, leave a comment. I will happily send you the information.

Here are the wonderful farmers in my neighborhood:

If you have an hour to spare, this documentary (Hungry for Change) is worth your time. Here is a trailer:

This entry was posted in The Great life and tagged , , , , .

38 Comments

  1. Alison January 2, 2013 at 23:25 #

    Twitter: AlisonSWLee
    I’m so jealous you have access to all those things!

    Good luck on your healthy eating journey!
    Alison recently posted..Farewell, 2012

    • Stasha January 3, 2013 at 09:46 #

      Twitter: NorthWestMommy
      I know. The only thing is, this might be a very American problem. I remember how easy it was to find wholesome food in downtown KL. I think a lot has to do with how big our country is and trying to preserve the produce while it travels across to reach our supermarket ( although crackers really need not have 5year shelf life ;) )

  2. Tragic Sandwich January 3, 2013 at 05:54 #

    Twitter: tragicsandwich
    What a great idea–and how fortunate that you can put it into practice! I wish I had time to do that research and find local providers (we live in a big city, but I’m sure there are options I don’t know about), but between my job, my commute, and Baguette, I just don’t. However, I do read labels, and I’m trying to cook without prepared foods as much as possible.
    Tragic Sandwich recently posted..New Year’s Resolution

    • Stasha January 3, 2013 at 09:40 #

      Twitter: NorthWestMommy
      I know what you mean! We have the opposite problem. In our small town we only have big chain supermarkets, no whole foods or Trader Joe’s type. The funny thing is that all our farmers send their produce to Seattle’s fancy small markets with healthy food. So in theory, if I did not buy directly from them I would have to drive down to the city for two hours. This world has gone crazy…
      Check your local CSA group (that is the boxed local produce delivery). They are usually stronger in the big cities and they deliver to your door.

  3. Jackie January 3, 2013 at 07:51 #

    Twitter: notwifezilla
    You had me at the goat cheese… and honey…and eggs.
    I think I may have to look into this Stasha! Thanks for the inspiration! Happy New Year my friend!
    Jackie recently posted..So Long ’12

    • Stasha January 3, 2013 at 09:41 #

      Twitter: NorthWestMommy
      Check your local CSA delivery. It is a good start. And I bet Wawa has much better choices of food then our local supermarket ;) Happy new Year to you, Brian and your beautiful girls xo

  4. lisacng January 3, 2013 at 08:03 #

    Twitter: lisacng
    You made an excellent point when you said that food on American shelves seems have longer shelf lives than elsewhere or “back in the good ol days”. Though I don’t complain about the milk not going bad sooner ;). I do believe that the hormones and preservatives (and other icky stuff) in American food is what is making us sicker, bigger, and unhealthy. Given that, I am not an organic nazi but we do buy FDA certified organic meat and milk products. We also strive to buy organic if it’s on the “dirty dozen” list. I LOVE that you are making goals to be more local! ‘Cause honestly, even if it’s organic, if it has to travel 500 mi to get to you, it’s not really green or responsible. Good luck on your journey! And OMG you make your own dog food? Daaaaaaaaang.
    lisacng recently posted..Year in-review

  5. Stasha January 3, 2013 at 09:43 #

    Twitter: NorthWestMommy
    I hear you!! And between you and me, even on the days we don’t feel like cooking we still make Max’s diner from scratch. I want to come back as my dog :)

  6. Katie January 3, 2013 at 10:16 #

    Twitter: saltandpine
    I’m somewhat local (a jump…or ferry…across the bay! ;) ) and I have access to a bunch of the same but would love to know where you are getting some things so I can fill in the holes in our diet. Thanks!!

    • Stasha January 4, 2013 at 10:12 #

      Twitter: NorthWestMommy
      Oh my, love finding your blog!!I Saw Estelle posted about holiday baking with whole wheat. I found WA flour company and they stock it in local supermarkets. It is called Stine-Buhr: http://www.stone-buhr.com/ . I checked and I don’t think Smith Brothers have a milk delivery route in PT ( they send out a local contractor to island so it might be worth checking just in case) but I get their milk and bread delivered by them, which is by Bread Garden http://www.thebreadgarden.com/ which is old school, lasting three days max kinda bread we used to buy in the bakeries. Do you have whole foods store in PT?

      • Katie January 4, 2013 at 19:56 #

        Twitter: saltandpine
        Awesome! Thanks, Stasha!

  7. Jessica January 3, 2013 at 15:31 #

    Twitter: goaliej54
    We’ve been trying to do this as much as possible, as well. It’s much easier in the summer, as you said, with farmer’s markets and such. I usually just go to my local farm, we’re lucky to have one that’s so convenient, and we have a good dairy in the area. Local honey is amazing, and good for preventing allergies to local pollen. Good luck, and can’t wait to hear more about this journey!
    Jessica recently posted..The Christmas Song List

  8. Stacie January 3, 2013 at 15:45 #

    Twitter: snapsandbits
    I am so interested to hear how this goes – I am nearly certain it should help. I am lucky to have a whole foods which has a large selection of local and organic things but I wonder if it’s good enough. I go to the farmer’s market in the summer.

    I didn’t realize you’re on Whidbey. My roomate from college lives there. Her first name is Loralee (if you know a Loralee, email me!).

    I’ve missed the listicles the past couple of weeks, boo! But, I’ll be back!
    Stacie recently posted..50 Shades Of Happy New Year

  9. Lisa@TheMeaningofMe January 3, 2013 at 19:39 #

    I love this post, Stasha. I’ve been looking into local CSA delivery for several months, actually, but just don’t have the courage to commit – it seems like SO much food for a small family. Probably need to find someone to share. In the meantime, we shop farmers’ markets and buy the produce at the big markets that is specifically from the local farms. We are pretty cautious label-readers and try to choose the most natural, healthful options we can. We aren’t perfect – far from it – and everybody around here enjoys a little “junk” from time to time. But if we do the best we can most of the time, that’s a pretty good effort! Hope this works well for you!
    Lisa@TheMeaningofMe recently posted..Making Good on Some Promises

  10. Kim@Co-Pilot Mom January 4, 2013 at 05:20 #

    Twitter: copilotmom
    This sounds wonderful! I haven’t really researched option like this in our community but I do look for local products when they are available. I think it does make a difference.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..Instagram is Insta-resting. Very, Very Insta-resting.

  11. Kelly Kardos January 4, 2013 at 07:40 #

    I think this is fabulous Stasha. I can’t wait till Austin goes off to school and we can get as far away from CA as we can. I dream about a simpler life elsewhere. Good for you and this is a very powerful post.

  12. Wendy Coffman January 4, 2013 at 07:53 #

    Twitter: stampingrules
    We’ve been avoiding most processed foods for almost two years now, and it’s done wonders for my family’s health. Sounds like you have some wonderful resources. We just lost our milk provider, and are four months out on the waitlist for the next closest farm.
    Wendy Coffman recently posted..January SOTM Blog Hop!

  13. Ally January 4, 2013 at 08:03 #

    Twitter: normalmomally
    I. LOVE. YOU. Seriously, this does my heart so much good to read. We’ve been slowly embarking on this journey, but you dove straight in. I’m lucky to work next door to PCC (Puget Consumers Co-op) where I can source lots of locally produced items. But I need to find more. If we can just change the way people think about food – even one person at a time… maybe there is hope!
    Ally recently posted..Where The Urge To Organize Really Comes From

  14. Kim @the g is slent January 4, 2013 at 09:50 #

    Twitter: GisSilent
    Awesome awesome awesome. I can’t wait to see the outcome.
    Kim @the g is slent recently posted..What I’ve Read

    • Ducky January 6, 2013 at 16:53 #

      Twitter: batcrapcrazy
      I was thinking thyroid too. I have a thyroid disease mid have done extensive research over the years. I’ve experienced some of those same symptoms during the journey. Your new style of eating has me super jealous!! We have our own huge garden but in the winter months we buy grocery store produce. Huge difference!!

  15. Jessica January 4, 2013 at 10:30 #

    Twitter: goaliej54
    I was thinking more about this last night, and wanted to add: (1) There’s no way you look like a grandma. (2) Have you had your thyroid tested? I have a thyroid condition, and it made me gain some weight, but it’s been fine now that I am on meds. (3) I have tried eating right, exercising, etc. but the only way I have been about to successfully lose weight is to count calories. Pain in the neck, I know, but it works. I hope the healthier food helps, too! :)
    Jessica recently posted..The New Year List

  16. Lisa ~ AutismWonderl January 4, 2013 at 10:59 #

    Twitter: LaliQuin
    I have the same problem! Just wrote a post about being overweight – the older I get, the harder it is to lose. My local supermarket doesn’t really have a good selection of fruits/veggies. But I have to make the effort to be healthier.

  17. Marie January 4, 2013 at 13:15 #

    Twitter: MarieMiracles
    Stasha, great post and good for you. I can’t believe you make your dog’s food!

    You might be interested in a great nutrition/cookbook I love–many of our family and friends are using it. It’s called Good Food, Great Medicine, and it’s written by a Portland doctor and his sister. It has some great healthy recipes in it–my standbys are homemade whole wheat pita chips and muesli. It’s all about what you have written about–staying away from processed foods and eating healthy oils and carbs. They also write about the science and medicine of eating healthy–it’s all about what you have written. It’s $30 retail but many doctors and nutritionists here in town offer it for $20 (you can buy it in bulk). I notice that they offer used editions on Amazon.

  18. Iza Trapani January 4, 2013 at 16:58 #

    Good for you, Stasha, for your awareness and for taking the steps toward healthier eating! And don’t be too hard on yourself. Some of the weight you gained could be muscle (from all the working out). You are still beautiful and now you are on your way to being healthier and even more beautiful
    Happy New Year!

  19. Emily Freeman via Facebook January 4, 2013 at 17:05 #

    Let me know how it works out! :)

  20. Judy Schwartz Haley January 4, 2013 at 17:22 #

    Twitter: coffeejitters
    I grew up in Alaska, with it’s massive coastline and all that seafood. But most of the seafood Alaskans eat, unless they caught it themselves, is caught in Alaska, shipped to Seattle, and then shipped back up to Alaska. Most fisheries with the word Alaska in their name, are still own by Seattle based companies. similar issues with other food sources exist across the country
    Judy Schwartz Haley recently posted..2012 – A year in review

  21. Carrie Hansen Baughcum via Facebook January 4, 2013 at 17:36 #

    I want to come live with you! You are so incredibly amazing. I can not wait to learn and hear more about this.

  22. MangoChutney January 4, 2013 at 22:24 #

    Twitter: Postpartumom5
    Stasha,
    I have that exact problem. My daughter who is now three yrs old, jut before I was pregnant with her, I had did a more natural eating plan and lost tons of inches. I was able to see my hip bones again and button coats I hadn’t been able to since my daughter before her. After I had her I tried to do the same thing, but nothing, not one pound. I don’t eat crazy because we live on a budget, and I pretty much get the same stuff, but I’m 60 lbs heavier, pretty much as heavy, if not heavier than I was at 9mo pregnant. I just realized after extreme PPD and excessive weight to team my hormones. I’ve never had a weight problem until I moved to middle America. I gained weight immediately even then. Not to mention this past winter I took spinning for 6mo and went to the gym 5 days a week with no success, not one pound lost. I beilieve so much in real grown food, because our food is engineered these days. Good luck on this. I’ll be looking for an update.
    MangoChutney recently posted..Is It A Happy New Year?

  23. Susi January 5, 2013 at 09:06 #

    Twitter: bocafrau
    Stasha, reading this so reminded me of my own childhood and how I yearn for that so often. Like you we try to buy many things local but in our suburban area there isn’t much to be had and the one local farm we frequented has become quite the fad and as such the prices have gone up and they cater more to the rich folk around here. Also, the only place we found were we can get fresh eggs and raw milk etc is outrageously expensive. I can’t afford to buy it as often as I would need to to keep my family of 5 fed. It’s sad when natural, local and healthier choices are more expensive than what’s available at the supermarket!!!!
    Susi recently posted..A New Year ~ A New Fill In

  24. just JENNIFER January 5, 2013 at 12:08 #

    Twitter: JenAnnHall
    I have seen a milk delivery truck in my neighborhood while out for walks. I was astonished that there are still “milk men” out there! You are awesome for making these changes and I look forward to hearning more.
    just JENNIFER recently posted..Things They Can’t Say

  25. Mama and the City January 5, 2013 at 13:42 #

    Twitter: Mama_AndTheCity
    well, as frustraiting as it is – loosing unwanted gained weight – it is always good that a good change comes out if it. I read the book “Eating Alive” and it changed me completely, not only taking into account what you eat in season, but also how you eat it. I lost 10 pounds after that.

    I, however, stopped doing it since the birth of the little one and have a stubburn husband who can’t join me in eating better and excersising. sigh.
    Mama and the City recently posted..2013 Bring It On

  26. Clarinda January 5, 2013 at 19:02 #

    Twitter: EnjoytheCourse
    All I can say is GOOD FOR YOU and I’M SO JEALOUS! One day, we’ll be able to afford eating more locally. A girl can dream, right?
    Clarinda recently posted..5 by the 5th Virtual Race Series

  27. Wayne January 6, 2013 at 08:25 #

    Twitter: profwaynewsmith
    A colleague and I are currently working on Local foods and restaurant pricing. I will let you know more about it soon.
    Wayne recently posted..Sundays In My City – Bird Brain Editon

  28. Lisa C January 6, 2013 at 14:15 #

    Twitter: spokesmama
    What a great way to start 2013! Kudos to you on your googling! ;) It is a lot easier than most people think to eat local–even if you don’t live in the gorgeously abundant Pacific Northwest like you & I do. :) Look for CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture, which will provide you with a box of locally produced food weekly, while providing the farmers with a more secure income, allowing them to keep farming & even (gasp!) expand their businesses.
    Lisa C recently posted..Exercise Challenge: Month 9, Week 5

  29. Christine @ Love, Li January 6, 2013 at 17:33 #

    Love this and totally believe that you can do this. I’m sure that you probably have heard of or read this before but Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about her family’s year of eating locally. I love her as a writer and it’s an interesting read.

    PS Did I know that you lived on Whidbey? I think I did but that’s where my husband and I spent the weekend after we got engaged!
    Christine @ Love, Li recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Intentions and Passions

  30. Southern Angel January 7, 2013 at 05:00 #

    Funny you should mention this. I had a long talk with my boys and my husband last night about our eating habits. My middle son has a love for sandwiches and lunch meat. I explained to him that eating that much bread and processed foods is hard on the body. We live in the country and while I do not have access to all you have access to, I do have the land to grow my own and freeze it. I would like to eventually have our own chickens for eggs and such. My kids looked at me like I had my head turning around on my shoulders. They will see.. they will see.
    Southern Angel recently posted..In 2013 these things will NOT be leaving my life… Monday Listicles with Stasha

  31. North West Mommy via Facebook January 10, 2013 at 15:51 #

    Emily Freeman it might not be related but I am having major headaches. Makes me wonder how much sugar I used to consume every day??!

  32. Kaara February 3, 2013 at 08:34 #

    Twitter: Kaara_lo
    Hi there!
    I think I live near to you! I’m in Blaine, WA… Would love to know your sources for healthy local eating.
    Thanks much!
    xoxo- Kaara

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