Viewpoints: Rachael Mason
On day one, I knew that eating local wasn't going to be as easy as I had expected. When I took my dog outside, my entire neighborhood smelled like sugary carnival food. All I could imagine was cotton candy and funnel cakes.
But sugar was one of the many things I didn't have, though I expected to easily replace it with honey. To start the week, I also had a spicy honey mustard, cornmeal, popcorn, baby carrots, onions, basil, a gallon of 2 percent milk and grits. I felt prepared.
On day one, back inside, I made my breakfast: one polenta square, fried in vegetable oil and drizzled in honey. It wasn't a funnel cake, but it wasn't bad. For my lunch, I packed two cornmeal crepes. I also made another polenta square and popped enough popcorn to fill a large Ziploc bag.
The week was off to a promising start. As soon as I got to the office, Shelley and I headed to the Emkeys' farm in Loganville, which was home to many delicious things to eat. They let us try some goat milk and goat milk cheese. We each got a dozen eggs, but I decided not to buy any chicken from the farm. I expected to get plenty of stuff at the East Atlanta Farmers Market that night.
After we left the Emkeys' farm, we stopped to pick our own strawberries at the nearby Washington Farms. We both picked a gallon of strawberries. It's a good thing - I ended up eating about three cups of the berries every day until they were gone.
Day one took a bad turn, though. After spending two hours in traffic, trying to get from Lawrenceville to the East Atlanta Farmers Market, I lost it. I was so hungry, I had a mini-meltdown in the new Trader Joe's in Midtown. I was really frustrated when I couldn't find a single local product in the store, known for its low prices on a variety of organic goods.
I ended up getting a sandwich from a nearby deli, but I didn't really like it. I ate half of it and threw the rest away - feeling guilty for wasting food and guilty for breaking the diet only nine hours after leaving my house.
On that first day, I did manage to find some local green beans at Return to Eden, so my trip to Atlanta wasn't a total waste. That night, back at home, I made a delicious smoothie with strawberries and some frozen blueberries from my grandmother's house in McDonough. Suddenly, my attitude improved immensely and I realized I should be thankful for what I have.
The leftover smoothie made a strawberry ice that became the highlight of my evenings. When I ran out of frozen strawberries on day three, I made some honey ice milk, which is a less-creamy ice cream, that I looked forward to eating every day.
I was a little worried about the weekend, though. On Saturday, which is the prime time for shopping at farmers markets, I had to work at my parents' booth at an arts and antiques fair. Luckily, Shelley said she would pick some food up for me, though I wouldn't be able to get it from her until Monday.
On Saturday, I somehow managed to resist the chicken dinner my mom brought me. I just watched her eat two brownies as she sat right beside me. I ate scrambled eggs and strawberries instead. And popcorn.
After work on Saturday, I made the find of the week - bacon from south Georgia. It was from more than 100 miles away, but it was the first nearly local meat I'd seen since I turned down that chicken on day one. Bacon became a staple of days four, five, six and seven.
The greens Shelley brought me on day five were another highlight. Suddenly, I had enough food to make a salad. Lunch never tasted so good. On day seven, I made some awesome hush puppies with cornmeal from Rome that had also come from the grocery store.
Though it wasn't local, I would have been a fool to miss my friend's crawfish boil on day three. He made a huge pot of crawfish, crabs, spicy ears of corn, potatoes and garlic, and I enjoyed every single bite.
Still, I craved sugar, and pretty much everything made with sugar, the entire time I was eating local. During the week, I consumed two bears filled with honey (12 ounces total) and lots of sweet, sweet strawberries, but I still wanted a candy bar almost every afternoon. When I accidentally set a paper towel on fire, the burning paper smelled like roasting marshmallows to me. I lived for the strawberry ice and honey ice milk that I had every evening.
But now that I can have whatever I want to eat, I'm having strange longings for farm-fresh eggs and things that are green. Apparently, eating local agreed with me, for the most part. I'd rather not remember the hungry afternoon when I thought a load of hay in a passing truck smelled pretty good.
While I am willing to work to include more local products in my regular diet, I have to draw the line at hay. Still, if it was cooked just the right way, and maybe served with some eggs and bacon, it might not be half bad.
E-mail Rachael Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.