Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gearing up for a Challenge

Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years ago, I've been mulling over trying for myself one of the book's core ideas - eating only what you yourself grow and produce (with a few guidelines & exceptions) for a specified period of time. I don't look at this like a stunt, but more of a way to challenge myself to eat better and make the best use of what I have. And what better time to start than summer, when the crops are rolling in and the goats are all well in milk?

In theory, it should be pretty easy. In theory. I have eggs for protein and fat, goat's milk for dairy/protein, a fishing fiend of a husband who brings home salmon, clams and crab, and (hopefully) a garden, teeming with fresh greens, berries, corn, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins, potatoes and squash. I also live in an area with no less than 4 blueberry farms in a one mile stretch. I'm flush with food. Now, do I have the gumption and the willpower to limit myself to eating that and that alone for a while? This is where I get a little shaky.

Bill and I have tossed this idea around a little and come up with a few hitches and fudges -

1) Coffee would have to be permitted. I already buy organic, fair trade coffee, so I don't have too much guilt about letting this one go. And I can get my beans from a fantastic local roaster, Batdorf & Bronson. Besides, I'm planning on doing this during the summer when my kids will be home with me all day. A day without caffeine could get ugly quick.

2) We're not going to make the kids do this with us. A morning without cereal, a summer day without ice cream, we'd have an insurrection on day one.

3) We might expand our food shed area to include food produced within our city. We're talking grown, born, butchered, etc. in Olympia. No doughnuts or Chinese food from downtown, lovely though that would be.

What else are we not thinking of? We'll be doing a lot of physical labor on the farm this summer, so we've agreed at this point to only have the experiment last for two weeks so that we don't run ourselves down too much on a diet with significantly less carbs than our usual pasta and rice intensive fare. Is two weeks long enough? Does that seem too wussy? Have we made too many exceptions? Help us get this ironed out so that we can put our little farm to the test this summer! We're thinking of beginning in July, as the garden should be kicking by then. What say you to all of this craziness?


  1. How long would you be doing this for? is it just for a challenge or a different life style? This is doable it just means extra work for you and if you are up for it you can do it. You can make those doughnuts and learn a few chinese dishes. I can give you soap recipes if you need, made from animal fats(ie goats)You already preserve your crops and make your own wines, you just need to expand on your skill base to make this work. Good luck!

  2. Sounds like a great idea, and if we had the time and space to do it, I would be totally on board. I know in BC there was a nice grain co-op and as you are in the same temperate climate do you have anything similar? You could be making and baking all your own pasta and doughnuts. Also your kids may surprise you, my daughter has just declared her vegetarianism, just from watching my diet.


  3. I was going to suggest sourcing local grain too. It's going to be a much easier adjustment if you get your carb fix!
    My friends had a similar diet for 6 mths, the only downfall was when they went back to the old style of eating and got quite sick. After lots of testing the doctor informed them they had been eating TOO healthy, and it was exposure to the bad old stuff like MSG, and stuff that was giving them migraines and the rest of the symptoms.
    He advised eating 'bad'/'normal' food, once a week to keep from becoming ill again!
    What do you think of that? I still think eatinf your own produce is great. Good luck!

  4. I think it's awesome! And don't feel like a wuss for going 2 weeks. Think of it more as a test run. A time to see if you could for longer. I think expanding to other nearby sources are good for longer term, but if you want to see what YOU can do for this short term, GO FOR IT!!!