Let’s Talk About Foodsheds,,,
A foodshed is defined as the 100 mile radius around where you live and the food that it produces for you to eat. While my own foodshed is more than 100 miles ( I consider “local” to cover the state that I live in mostly because I belong to a local and organic delivery service that is based north of me, so what is local for them can be significantly north of that (Source).
Your foodshed can include people who raise and process their own livestock, sell eggs from chickens, catch wild or farm fish and other seafood, and of course the fruits and veggies that grown in your area. If, like me, you are lucky enough to have a local&organic grocer who seeks out purveyors for you, you can get much of your food from them. Another source, and one that is more likely for you to find, is your local farmer’s market.
In 2001, when living in the Houston area, I read a book by Barbara Kingsolver called Small Wonder . In this book (which predates Animal, Vegetable, Miracle…another book I highly recommend) she suggests that we spend 20.00 a month of our grocery budget towards local ingredients. I contacted my local agriculture extension office and was informed by a very nice man that there were NO farmer’s markets in the Houston area (at that time, hopefully that has changed by now). He gave me a list of you-pick farms and I hit up the local blueberry farm and picked berries and bought local honey. I stopped at the local farm stands whenver I saw them. I picked the blackberries in my own backyard. And I generally had a hard time even spending 20$ a month on local goods.
Now 35-50% of my entire grocery budget each week goes to local goods: meats, cheeses, eggs, and produce. This food comes from several sources. First of all, I get a weekly delivery of groceries that are organic and local. The company I use is Greenling and it delivers in the Austin and San Antonio area but there are other programs in other cities. The majority of my meats and cheeses come from there as well as some fruits and veggies and other dried goods like beans and popcorn and brown rice. I go to the farmer’s market almost every week and buy my eggs there as well as most of my fruits and veggies. I live in San Antonio where we just got a year-round farmers market at the Pearl Brewery, but before that I would go to one of the season farmer’s market or attend the one in Austin whenever I was in town. When I shop at the local produce market (Chicho Boys) or the grocery store, I look for items marked as local (in Texas, they use the Go Texan abel) and buy whatever they have, even if just for encouragement for the to continue to carry local produce. I also have a garden where we grow veggies and herbs, and before I had my own garden I belonged to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) that sent me fresh veggies every week. I also am known to forage things that grow wild in my area. When I was in Houston I had blackberry brambles on the edge of my property, here in San Antonio I can collect cactus fruit and other goodies. I can and freeze stuff when it is fresh and abundant and inexpensive so I can have delicious things all year. The strawberries you can buy in the store may not taste good in November, but the ones I bought in May and made into jam are still delicious!
What does this have to do with the glycemic index diet, you may be wondering. Most everything! One of the biggest tenets of the diet is to eat food that is less processed. Foods that are processed are more likely to have a higher glycemic index, that is, since they have already been broken down so much in the processing that they turn into glucose much, much faster. Did you know that oftentimes when they test the gylcemix index of a food they test it against a piece of white bread? The GI of processed white bread is so high that it is nearly the same as pure glucose. You also controls what goes into your food when you buy it fresh and process it yourself. I often make my own pickles, my own jam, my own sauces. I know EXACTLY how much stuff is going in it and I can pronounce all the words, unlike looking at the label on a package. Is that more work? Sure can be. I don’t always have time to do that level of work and I don’t beat myself up over it when I can’t. But when I do have extra time, such as during the summer months, I try to make extra to set aside for other times. I’m lucky that my kids love to be in the kitchen with me so it’s good bonding time to make strawberry jam together!
Does it cost more? It can. But you will find that a diabetic friendly diet is going to cost more no matter what. And I’ve noticed that when I pay more for my food, and know the person it is coming from, I respect it more. A loaf of bread from the farmer’s market will be eaten with dinner and the leftovers will be turned into croutons for next week’s salad. Knowing the man who stayed up all night baking those loaves makes me want to respect the work that he did. Besides knowing where my food comes from, and knowing exactly what I’m putting in my body, I’m also directly supporting my local economy instead of a faceless conglomerate. While that may not be part of my glycemic index diet, it’s important to me. And a political issue that crosses party lines.
Where to find your own local foods (these links are also on the bar to the right of any page in this blog):
Find a local farm with a Community Supported Agriculture program near you:
Find a farmer’s market near you (this list isn’t exhaustive, consider contacting your local agriculture extension service office for a more complete list for your area):
Find a pick-your-own farm near you (this list is pretty extensive, but your local agricultural extension office for your state can include this information as well, for you, just to be sure):
The Eat Well Guide has information on all kinds of local, sustainable resources including restaurants and stores, not just farms and markets.