It’s no secret that I have a tendency to lean toward crunchy when it comes to feeding my family. I spring for organic when possible, hit the farmers market every week when it’s in session, and attempt to cook at least 4 nights a week with ‘real’ ingredients rather than pop in a pre-packaged meal or order in. It was less of an economic question for us and more of a ‘what tastes better’ question.

Even with that bit of crunch, I still never stopped to wonder just where the food we buy comes from…. then I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  While I don’t plan to move from our little urban rowhome to a country homestead and raise all my own food any time soon (as the author does with her family), I suddenly find myself far more conscious about what I’m picking up at the grocery store and trying to shop what’s in season. Organic is great — but organic from Timbuktu still means it was shipped from Timbuktu. And all of the costs (and fuel) that implies.

So there I am in Whole Foods – Mt. Washington on Saturday trying to buy local. Organic was a bonus — but local and all natural was what I was aiming for. While February in Maryland is a terrible time to start an “primarily buy local” mantra, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I could buy from local farms that were producing in greenhouses all winter. A little more money perhaps, but — from my opinion — a good investment. In both my family’s health and the local economy. As an added bonus, I found myself more proactive in thinking about how many meals I could get out of a particular purchase, which saved on food waste and helped trim the grocery budget.

{Note: This does not mean my family is giving up bananas, mangoes and oranges since they aren’t produced locally. As much as I want to shop local when possible, I also believe in giving my toddler a well-balanced diet. In her present picky fruits and vegetable state, these fruits pack a lot of nutritional value I’m not interested in skimping on…}

Here’s what’s on our ‘seasonal’ dinner menu this week, most of the ingredients from local farms or fair trade if local was out of the question:

We’re going to be exploring more ‘buy local’ options on (cool) progeny. Navigating the grocery store was a first step, and next we’ll be exploring CSAs and adding to our farmer’s market list as they begin to start up for the season. If you want to get a jump start on locating local food, check out the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website’s buy local resource.

This post was inspired by  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Could you live an entire year eating locally or the food from your garden? Barbara Kingsolver transplanted her family from the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of Virginia for this very endeavor. Join From Left to Write on February 21 as we discuss Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.