I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food LIfe as part of the Tacoma Reads Together program. Kingsolver documents her family's attempt to eat foods grown, raised, and produced from within their own county for one year. Her family of four lives on a small farm in Virginia where they raise chickens and turkeys, keep a 4000 sqft garden, and visit their local farmer's market weekly for other odds and ends. They bake their own bread, make their own sausage, cheese and yogurt (among other "processed" foods), and cultivate relationships with their community, as well. It's a lot of hard work, but they eat like kings and savor each delicious bite.
As someone who sees sustainability, buying locally, and organic agriculture as parts of a healthy lifestyle, the book has caused me to read more labels at the grocery store and put more wholesome foods on my table. We've kept a small raised bed garden the last two years, but have decided to expand it this year. We pulled a dusty bread machine from the attic and started making our own whole wheat bread, without corn syrup and other mystery additives. We are thinking about supplementing our own garden by purchasing a share of the crop from Terry's Berries, a local organic farm.
I'm no saint when it comes to eating healthy, but there's a balance here somewhere, and I need to at least tip the scale in the right direction.
Of course, this all started with biking to work. I often reflected during that hour-long ride about all of the things that people do in the modern age to simplify their lives, like driving everywhere. The "simple" way is not always better, and it's often borne at some cost that creates more complexity in our lives somewhere else. It may take me a little more time and effort to do some of these things, but I'm not looking for ways to make my life "simple", I'm looking for ways to make it more enjoyable, for me, my family and my community. Kingsolver's book is full of ideas and resources for anyone looking to do the same.