Thoughts about opting out of Big Ag.

I’ve been thinking about what exactly I want to do with this blog, now that I am trying to resurrect it. What have I accomplished in the last 4+ years since I decided to stop going to the grocery store? How has my thinking, and my motivation for shopping this way, changed along the way? What have I learned that readers of this blog might enjoy as well? Can I look back and connect the dots in a meaningful way?

Let’s recap:

When I first started this project, back in 2008, I wasn’t much of a “cook from scratch” type of cook (<– ha, what an understatement!), but I did consider myself a fan of healthy foods. I’ve always liked fresh fruits and green salads. I would read ingredient labels, and preferred to buy foods without artificial ingredients or other funny additives. I didn’t forbid all junk food if we were out, but I didn’t buy things like soda, candy, cookies, potato chips etc to keep at home. I shopped at big chain supermarkets initially, but after I discovered stores like Henry’s, Trader Joe’s and Mother’s Market (when we lived in California) I much preferred to go there for more “natural” selections. I felt that these more “natural” stores offered the higher quality that I wanted, yet still had convenience and prices I could (usually) afford.

We also ate out quite a bit, spending a nice chunk of change on restaurants. Cooking at home just wasn’t a big part of our family culture. We were busy. Between work and school, and lots and lots of driving (did I mention we lived in Southern California and commuted hundreds of miles?) we just didn’t feel like we had time for elaborate home cooked meals. Eating was a necessity, yet figuring out what to eat also caused quite a bit of stress. The lost art of cooking was painfully obvious in our home. There was a lot of staring into the “empty depths” of the (plentiful) refrigerator. There was arguing with the kids over where to go out for dinner. There were meals made, and noses turned up. Cooking and gathering together around meals just wasn’t a part of our family culture the way I imagine it was a few generations ago when everyone sat at the table all eating the same food that mom had prepared.

In short, I am sure I was a quite typical busy, somewhat health conscious, mom who wanted to make good choices for her family, and that our family was simply, unquestioningly part of “the times” as Michael Pollan has explained in his article about the decline of home cooking. Yet, just like Pollan suggests, maybe the loss of cooking and the connection it provides a family was felt somewhere within me, on a subconscious level?

I had never even heard of Micheal Pollan at the time, yet I sensed that the supermarket was part of a giant industry that includes a huge marketing apparatus that manipulates consumers into buying whatever it is that “Big Ag” can make money off of. For me, quite often the experience of shopping for food with the kids in tow was stressful. I hated having to be that mom who always said “no” to the chips, cookies, sodas, candy, sugary cereals etc etc… How strange though that I never consciously questioned the insanity of shopping in a place where upwards of 75% of the “food” sold wasn’t something I would ever consider eating or feeding my kids. On some level, I must have known that I was a part of the problem since I was participating in it even though I thought I was being selective. Perhaps it took me so long to change things because I didn’t have a starting place for changing things, much less any alternative solutions?

Somehow, I intuitively came up with a single very simple rule that I hoped would change everything: no more going to the supermarket!

Looking back, that one rule was serendipitous indeed! It was the beginning of it all. Simply opting out from buying food at the supermarket, even if I decided to do it without knowing how things would pan out, freed me and inspired me to find alternatives. And now I can say that it is doable, and that you do not have to be a part of Big Ag if you don’t want to! And that feels good!

So that little recap makes me realize that this blog can help others who also want to opt out and are wondering how to do it.

  • How do you find alternative sources for ALL your food?
  • What kinds of things should you think about when you buy alternatives? For example, this journey has helped me understand that it is not good enough to simply order online and have delivered the same food you can buy at the supermarket.
  • What kinds of skills do you need to learn to make the kinds of things you would normally buy at the store?
  • How much time does it take?
  • How much does it cost? Can you do it on a budget?

Is there anything else I could use this blog for? Let me know in the comments, please! I’d love for this blog to become a useful resource for others interested in opting out of “Big Ag.”

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