Tag Archives: Local food

lost in the supermarket? go fishing!


It’s only been a few days since I have been tracking my spending habits and I am convinced that almost every decision and purchase that I make has some kind of negative impact on the environment. My mind is spinning with all sorts of questions. Where was the item made? How did it travel here? What is it made of and who made it? What are the different ingredients in it? I thought I was going to have a panic attack standing in the aisles of the local Giant food store peering at all the endless items lining the shelves that I couldn’t buy without racking up the anti-environment points (and guilt for making poor choices). There were very few things for sale that didn’t have wasteful packaging, foreign chemicals, or wasn’t imported from across the world. The only reason I made it out of the store point free is because I gave up and didn’t buy anything.

Who knew shopping would become as complicated a process as hunting down your own food. I started thinking about what I would do if I had to hunt down food sources in this area of the world. What could sustain me? Well besides being surrounded by a ton of fine restaurants, I am surrounded by water after all. Fishing seemed like a much better idea than dumpster diving for fancy food leftovers.

A few weekends ago my friend and fellow liveaboard Suzanne invited me out on her boat for the afternoon. We dropped anchor and made an effort at catching our lunch. I was curious about what kind of fish were living in the waters I have been floating on. I did not fare so well with the fishing but the friends with me caught quite a few – unfortunately not big enough to keep and eat. All of them were croakers (not dead fish – that is their actual name! they make a unique croaking sound when out of water – I guess I would too, if I was hanging from a hook by my mouth)


Anyway, the outing inspired me to eat more fish for dinner. Even though I didn’t catch any fish, I did hunt these croakers down at the local Annapolis Seafood Market. The salesmen there are very knowledgeable, friendly, and gave me great cooking and recipe advice as well. I have become an instant fan of this place and have been back a few times, trying a few different kinds of local fish. AND the local fish were less expensive! It was the first frugal find in this eating local adventure.

So besides the Annapolis seafood market, my other favorite green shopping experience has to be my local farmer’s market that is a short walk from the marina I live in. This time of year is amazing for it! Good weather, good food and good people. I found yogurt made with raw milk, fresh fruit, free-range local eggs beautiful veggies and local grass-fed beef burgers. Finally, a place where all of my choices were good choices!


I came home very happy with my purchases but couldn’t help realizing that I spent double than I would have at the grocery store. Yes I do believe that better food and healthier food is worth the extra money but I also am realistic in saying that if I did make this a habit I would have to sacrifice my spending elsewhere or will just have to start making more $$ weekly. Both doable goals but will take more planning and intention.

So how can I continue to eat well without breaking bank?

Well a few other ideas surfaced when visiting Easton MD, my former neighborhood on the Eastern Shore of MD (where a lot of the local produce comes from in Annapolis). Making this drive across the Bay Bridge racked up my “cap and trade” points for the day, but it was well worth the trip. I was able to visit my favorite fair-trade local coffee shop Rise Up coffee and also catch up with some great friends. I stopped in to see future Living Chapters wild card Doug Sadler and his wife Linda before heading back to Annapolis. Doug and I worked on a story telling/dialogue project (Let’s Be Shore) on land use, agriculture and water quality issues last year when I was living in Easton. He and his wife were interested in hearing how my “environment” chapter was going. While there I got to meet Linda’s sister Jena who works for the organic farm Cottingham Farm in Easton MD. She dropped by bringing bags and bags of beautiful organic vegetables. I was lucky enough to be invited to stay for dinner and got to taste test some of them! YUM. It was really great to talk with Jena about her job at Cottingham Farm. It made me realize that if I felt organic veggies were too expensive to purchase all the time maybe I could get a job or trade my time and volunteer at a farm. Or I could sign up for a CSA (a community supported agriculture share) or share a CSA with some friends. These were all options that could give me better access to this great food and the good practice of growing food organically. Not only did I go home with a full belly of delicious food that night but Doug and Linda sent me home with bags of excess vegetables from their CSA.

Check out Cottingham Farm to learn more about the benefits of organic farming.

Special thank goes out to Suzanne Wheeler who got me out fishing this month! She also writes a great blog about living aboard.  Many thanks also go out to good friends Doug and Linda Sadler for feeding me and generously sending me home with delicious Cottingham Farm vegetables.


My latest shopping soundtrack:


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checks and balances


I have never been a numbers person. Honestly, keeping track of anything in a formulaic way has always been  counterintuitive for me.  I’ve just finished week one of this “Cap and Trade” system and am finding that balancing my actual environmental habits to be less difficult and than balancing the points on the scoring card. I am now wishing I had been asked to brush up on some mathematical equations in my last logic chapter; it may have helped me create a tool for tracking all the miles of driving, cubic feet of waste, gallons of water, and hours of electricity I am using this month.

I have never even balanced my checkbook technically, but I also have never overdrawn. It may not be logical but I usually sense when something is off balance and then adjust as needed.  I just make sure that I keep to my moderate spending habits and try to stay on the frugal side of things. I have tried to adopt this mode of operation to this game. So I’m not sure what my point results will reveal in the end, but one thing has become extremely clear. I am now more aware of everything I do on a daily basis more than I ever thought I could be (or wanted to be!). I mean who tracks how many times they flush a toilet in a database?

Within days, I  determined what my highest point scoring habits include: driving my car, charging my laptop/phone, eating food that has an unknown origin and showering daily. Some of these things were easy to scale back right away. (like cutting back on my amount of showers and length of them) But others can not be changed overnight – giving up my car would mean giving up my job and giving up my computer would also mean giving up my job. I decided to avoid unemployment and focus on the areas in which there was potential to shift. Food and Water. These two things I have direct control over changing in my daily life.

Or do I? Even these decisions, in which I thought I had ultimate control over, are a lot more complex than I originally thought. I didn’t make it past my first meal of the month before I became tangled up in the logistics of how to “score” my eating habits.

Dinner number one:  I had a salad with greens from my own garden, a tomato from a neighbors garden, some packaged baby carrots, a non organic cucumber and some salad dressing (with a ton of random ingredients) all from… the “local” grocery store, along with a turkey burger bearing a label saying it’s meat was “distributed” in near by Landover, MD Hmmm… something harvested by me, something locally harvested – other veggies from unknown territories and meat from where? If “distributed” means raised and processed, I think less than 100 miles away?  So how many points is that?

Things got pretty complicated even after examining one meal.  Knowing I got my food from the local food store was not knowing where my food is from.  Living in Annapolis, I am privileged to have access to many places that sell locally grown food, but I did find, after checking, that those stores and markets are actually scattered around the area and are a farther drive away than my local Grocery Store. I would also have to go to several different places to get all things locally.  Would the miles in my car out weigh the choice of the food? Hmmm… I had to check out the point system to find out. After checking I still was not sure.

While focusing on water consumption, this different dilemma surfaced:  I’m in a pubic bathroom in my favorite coffee shop remembering that every time I flush a toilet I am essentially wasting water (and gaining .5 points). I am wondering how the proprietor and other customers would feel about me implementing the, “if its yellow let it mellow” motto. I never opposed this idea but I had also never really fully adopted it. This was the first time I actually found myself pondering this predicament.  Do I do what’s considered “rude” and leave pee unflushed in a public toilet or do I waste the water and enable this water wasting habit we have all taken part in for years? I caved that time and succumbed to the “avoid doing what is rude rule” that my mother taught me long ago.

It’s ridiculous that I even have time or head space to think about such a “dilemma” as this let alone ponder it for the rest of the day. Later that evening I brought it up again in a phone conversation with “Logic and Order” chapter writer Gabe DellaVecchia. “Do you leave pee in public toilets?” I asked.  He lived in Portland Oregon where he said that the “if its yellow let it mellow motto” is the norm, not only in personal homes but in public places as well. He said you may get labeled a “hippie” for letting the yellow mellow but heck that seems  a lot better label than being called “rude”.

Is it rude to save water? Are we still being labeled negatively for trying to conserve? Well I guess we all have opinions on the right and wrong ways of doing things and we all feel differently about what’s important (in this case our etiquette  or our conservation habits). But we can only make decisions for ourselves in our personal lives… OR do we need to work harder as a culture together to make these changes acceptable?

This game has filled my head with an overwhelming amount to think about and its only week one! Not only am I now thinking about how my personal choices are impacting everything and everyone around me but I am also pondering how and why we have come to make the choices we do and what kind of support we may or may not have for trying to make those changes toward a better outcome?

It seems like we are up against a lot of different obstacles when trying to do something like lower our personal impact on the environment. Beyond just the system in which we track our habits, there is the structure of the city we live in, our culture, our economic status and our upbringing.  These are just a few of the factors that I haven’t even touched on yet.  What were you taught as a child about how to make your decisions.  Were you raised to conserve water or conserve money? Did you grow up on fast food or grow your own food?

I am curious about finding a system that could help us all shift our habits while taking into account our different starting points.  (does this exist?) And are we even in a position to be able to make the changes we want to or will we have the access to do so? These are some of the bigger questions I’ve been wrestling with this week along with the “pee in public toilet dilemma”.

What do you think? How can we assess and accept the path where we have come from to get to a new place of balance where we’d all like to be?


Please join Chapter 3 writer Andy and I in the Cap and Trade Game and track your own habits! You may learn something about yourself and the possibly the environment in which you live and where you came from. Just click here and add your name to play.

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