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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