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Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Am I?

Who am I? Like Derek Zoolander looking into a puddle after his friend died in a freak gasoline accident I often question who I am.

Not who I am as a person, but who am I as a food consumer? I’m not a 100% locavore since I buy products from all over the world but I try to buy local as much as possible. I’m not a vegetarian as I really like meat . I wouldn’t consider myself a member of the slow food movement as periodically I am tired and the only way my family will eat is if we buy fast food. There are a lot of food movements out there and I wish I could say that I always buy locally and eat organic natural foods but I find it hard to do this all the time. Maybe I should start a new food movement called the amibetterthaniwasayearagovore movement. Here is an example of my mindset for this new movement.

Last Saturday we went to an Indoor Farmers market at Tony Caputo’s Deli in downtown Salt Lake City. The market had less farmer’s produce and more people selling their seasonings, and sauces that they made locally. While we were there I tried some Prosciutto di Parma which was amazing so I bought some. Then I thought that it would go great with pasta but Marisa was busy all day so I knew that she wouldn’t have time to make her wonderful homemade whole wheat pasta. I bought some locally made pasta instead. I needed a little cheese as well so I bought some parmesan cheese. I brought everything home, fried some prosciutto with butter and garlic, added some of the sun dried tomatoes we made from our garden, threw in some frozen peas from our garden and abracadabra we had a meal better than anything you can get at a restaurant.


Let’s talk about what I did that was both “positive” and “negative.”

Positives: Bought locally made pasta, added peas and tomatoes from last years garden, supported local farmers or food stuff sellers.

Negatives: Prosciutto and Parmesan were imported from Italy so definitely not local with a high carbon footprint. Garlic purchased at Winco not locally produced as well. Pasta was not whole wheat.

Verdict: As a amibetterthaniwasayearagovore I succeeded. Two years ago I would have gone out to eat at Macaroni grill. Instead, we bought some of our ingredients locally and used some of our own produce. I did better than I would have done in the past. We are improving our habits as consumers. We aren’t perfect but we are trying to do better and to me that is what is the most important. If we all improve we can make a big difference while taking small steps. Maybe next year I will grow my own garlic for the meal. Maybe 2 years from now I will raise my own pork for bacon. The key is that next year I am doing better than now.

What do you guys think of this philosophy? Am I just justifying some of the bad habits that I have? Or on the other hand am I making the process of improving my consumption habits more manageable so I don’t give up altogether?


Katie said...

I think this type of attitude is fantastic! Some people can make 180° changes to their lives instantly. Many can not. I am among those who don't seem to be able to do it all at once. If I feel that I am shooting for an impossible goal, I will often give up.

Also, we need to keep in mind that most people aren't perfect. People post the good things online and typically leave out the negative. I know one woman who preaches a 95%-plant based high raw diet. She told me she sometimes eats chocolate cake at Magleby's! Based on her online persona, I was shocked! I found out that another online vegan nutritionist eats 95% healthy vegan during the day but compulsively eats junk food at night. Both these ladies can still be fantastic examples, but I need to realize they're not perfect, and I don't have to put that strict of a standard on myself either.

marisa said...

Well said Katie!

katiegirl said...

I second that!

PickingUpStitches said...

I think this is a great philosophy. I have goals for our food supply, but if I tried to do it all at once I would just get overwhelmed and give up. Baby steps. This year we will do better than last year!


Casey said...

I too am working on doing better than last year. Our garden will be bigger again this year, as it was bigger last year than the year before. I think that every little bit counts!

Poppy said...

Constant improvement in baby steps is the way to lasting improvement! Thanks for your thoughts!

-Sydney- said...

I agree, baby steps! I will join your amibetterthaniwasayearagovore movement :)

David said...

Marisa, Katie did a good job of explaining how we all should strive to eat better, to buy better and in general to live better. I too am striving to wean myself mainly off the processed junk foods. There are some things that I will never be able to buy locally such as sugar, coffee, and an occasional orange because they just can’t be grown here. My reason for doing what I’m doing is really not to save the planet, but instead to just try to support good eating habits for me and to support local businesses as much as I can. Times are tough all over so if I buy a can of coffee from the local big box store that’s a mile away from me, I really don’t feel so bad about that. It brings me great pleasure to sit on the patio and enjoy my coffee in the morning or gaze out the window at the Winter wonderland while sipping the morning brew. Life has been condensed down for me to eat as well as I can, live as simple as I can, and each morning when I awake to determine in my mind that this will be the best day of my life.

On the other hand I’ve expanded my garden for this year and will expand food preservation during this year. We all need to be mindful of our wasteful ways. It boggles my mind to think about the waste in an average American household.

Marisa, it’s more about enjoying the journey than it is about accomplishing the goal. You’re on track to a better great journey for sure.

Nebraska Dave

Dale Johnson said...


I always enjoy your articles. You have such great insights.

I would suggest that you never grow your own pork. There is a gene in the Johnson DNA that kills hogs. Just ask your father.


Dale Johnson said...

Of course, that gene may kill other things too. Just look at all my backyard farming disasters.


Holly | Reed Photographic said...

I think it is hard, especially in a cold northern desert like ours, to instantly switch to being a locavore. I think making changes when they are possible casts a vote with your dollars that opens up the market for more local choices - thus making it easier to make more progress towards being a locavore. It's a gradual change on an individual level as well as a market level. As for specialty foods from certain regions of the world, I wouldn't beat yourself up. The world would be a boring place if we could never taste french bread, dutch chocolate, italian cheese, etc.

Matt said...

Thank you so much for shopping at Caputo's and making such a laudable effort to live more sustainably. Our regulars appreciate the same from us. In the last year we switched 100% of our electricity to wind power, started recycling everything possible and using biodegradable bags.

However, to automatically categorize something as having a lower carbon footprint because it is locally produced than something from Italy is oversimplified.

Many locally manufactured products utilize ingredients and inputs from all over the world (of course their are many that do not as well). Many of the products we bring from Italy, come from 100% sustainable old world produced ingredients and we ship them here on container ocean liners, which is a very efficient mode of transport.

A product produced right next door can have a much higher carbon foot print than something from around the world depending on how they are made and transported.

Pasta is a perfect example. Most pastas are dried by putting them into dehydrating rooms that take a lot of energy to run. On the other hand many of our Italian pastas are air dried the old fashioned way. Not only is this more sustainable, but the flavors and textures are not cooked out as easily.

Caputo's applauds your support of local, as we also give strong support to locals when they are producing amazing product. However, it is important to remain critical of local products that use industrial inputs and not give them carte blanche just because they are local.

In our rush to support local producers we should all remain vigilant in order to spot locals using unsustainable production inputs and methods. I have even been hearing troubling rumors from some local farmers and vendors at the Farmer's Market that some of the vendors are just ordering from national distributors and selling it as their own. Not cool considering there is little to no oversight of this.

Matt Caputo

Matt said...

P.S. One of the Parma Prosciutto we buy is much more sustainable than 90% of the pork raised in Utah even once you add in the small amount of carbon it takes to get here. These particular Parma pigs are fed nothing but byproducts of other productions and farm waste. Specifically, they are fed almost nothing but chestnuts and whey from Parmigiano Reggiano production. Not only is it sustainable, but gives an incredible sweet, nutty and complex flavor.

Dale Johnson said...


Thank you for taking the time to weigh in on the subject. I appreciate your comments. It is interesting to know more about your business.

Dale Johnson