Books That Have Changed my Lifestyle

It’s the weekend and life is good. We have a pretty busy weekend, but it’s all fun stuff. My sister-in-law came in from Georgia for my daughter’s birthday. As the first-born grandchild on both sides of our family, spoiled doesn’t even begin to cover it. Flying across the country for the princess’ birthday is, of course, expected. I don’t mind a bit though because it gives us an excuse to see family.

This morning, the baby, my SIL and I hit up the farmer’s market. After coming out of my post-partum haze a couple of months ago, I finally got around to going to the St. Paul farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Coming from a small town in Western North Carolina, I was shocked by the sheer size and selection of fruits and vegetables. Purple cabbage, buttercup squash, bags of spinach, stalks of Brussels sprouts, Romanesco broccoli, yellow watermelon, free-range chicken, duck eggs…it was a comestible rainbow. With a bit of planning ahead, I’ve been able to do about 90% of my grocery shopping at the farmer’s market.

Why the obsession with the farmer’s market, you might ask? Well, a couple of years ago I read Lisa Leake’s book 100 Days of Real Food and it completely changed my perspective on the food I had been feeding my family and putting into my own body. Did you know that cheese is white? Cheese is white! All yellow cheese has added food coloring. Seriously! I checked the ingredients after reading this and my mind was blown. Apparently, a long time ago all the good cheese made with high-quality milk had a slightly yellowish tint to it. Cheese makers realized that if they just dyed the cheese yellow, they could sell cheese made with low-quality milk for top dollar. Apparently, this is a tradition our culture felt was important to hold onto, thus yellow cheese rules the dairy case. Also cellulose, which is basically wood pulp, is added to shredded cheese as an anti-caking agent! Leake decided that she and her family would cut out all processed foods from their diets. Yes folks, that means sugar too. After reading this book, I made many changes in what food items I purchased. While I don’t follow all the rules set by Lisa’s 100-day challenge, I strive to eat clean. An easy way to do this is by increasing your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. An even easier way to do this is to shop at places that don’t even offer processed foods. Enter the farmer’s market. It’s a great way to eat fresh, organic, local foods with zero additives. It’s also a great way to support your community. It’s also a great time to copy that cute farmer’s market outfit I pinned about three years ago.

I also shop at the farmer’s market to reduce waste. A while ago I read a book called Garbology: A Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes. I know what you’re thinking, “A book about garbage? Why haven’t I read that yet?” It really opened my eyes to the amount of unnecessary amount of trash we constantly consume. Our lives have become disposable. Nothing is made to last. No time or effort goes into sustainability in our daily life and choices. It had some startling statistics on the amount of trash our nation produces, especially in comparison to other countries. It led me to Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home which chronicles a woman’s journey to produce enough trash in a year to fit into one mason jar. And she has kids! While I was incredibly inspired by what Johnson was able to accomplish, I knew that it probably wasn’t going to happen for me. My husband just rolls his eyes at me whenever I announce a new lifestyle change our family will be adopting. I try to make some changes and it’s slow-going, but I know I produce less trash than when I first read these books. I use reusable grocery bags, I compost, I make a lot of my own food such as bread, yogurt, and granola, and I don’t use any paper products besides toilet paper (my husband did not like the idea of a family cloth!). I also shop in the bulk section of grocery stores and co-ops and bring my own containers. Shopping at the farmer’s market is any easy way to shop for items with no packaging. With all these changes, our family of five still fills up about 1 1/2 kitchen-sized garbage bags per week. But like I said, it’s less trash than we used to produce.

You didn’t think there was such a lengthy response to the question “Why do you go to the farmer’s market, Allison?”, did you? That’ll teach you to ask questions now, won’t it? Every week I also allow myself one “splurge” item. Something a little on the pricier side that I don’t absolutely need. Things like big jars of honey, fresh flowers, or today’s purchase…Korean hot sauce. Yummy! Sometimes it’s the little things that make your life richer and your heart happier.


I’d love to hear some books that have altered your lifestyle!

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