Carrboro, North Carolina
Born and raised in central Maine, my youth was spent mowing the lawn, kicking a soccer ball against the garage doors, and trying to sneak sugar cereal out of the kitchen cupboards after I was put to bed. More about Tim
South Royalton, Vermont
I am a baby boomer who grew up in a time when the trend in food was convenience and speed. It wasn't the fast-food era, but a post-World War II time when ... More about Warren
We live in Holliston, Massachusetts. When we bought our house in Holliston about 27 years ago, Holliston was a rural/residential town of about 13,000 people. More about Barbara
Wallace, West Virginia
My name is Autumn. I'm 24 years old, and I live in rural north-central West Virginia. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and in 2005 I graduated from ... More about Autumn
My personal interests revolve around the environment, both knowing more about it and getting outside and enjoying my surroundings. This led me down an educational path to ... More about April
We've returned from a 12-day vacation (including four days of driving, yuck!) on the Gulf Coast of Florida -- St. Petersburg, to be specific. I wondered how my local-eating pledge would stand up under the strain of travel and unfamiliar eateries, especially in an area where, as a Florida resident pointed out in a comment on my previous post, agricultural land is quickly being swallowed by real estate development. So I'm happy to report that I did a pretty good job, averaging around 50% local foods throughout the trip.
Largely, this was accomplished through the fact that we brought a lot of food with us ... pretty much all of our perishables, as well as some staples to make simple meals at "home" (we stayed at a relative's house). I was happy to buy good local bagels, which I can't find in my area of West Virginia. And perhaps best of all, there was a grapefruit tree in the back yard! I didn't realize how much I've been missing fresh fruit -- even before this project began, I rarely bought fresh fruit in winter, aside from apples, but I always miss it.
On the evening of our arrival, I ventured out to Publix to stock up on organic produce and a few other items. As far as supermarkets go, Publix is a rather benevolent example of the genre. Based in Lakeland, Florida, Publix is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the U.S. It has implemented several company-wide energy-saving and recycling programs and has declared its commitment to local product sourcing. I found lots of organic choices there, including a variety of fruits and veggies grown in Florida and the Southeastern U.S. The company also produces a line of items under the brand name GreenWise Market, which includes organic foods; recycled paper products; and meats and seafood raised without added hormones or antibiotics.
When eating out, I tried hard to choose Gulf seafood that is considered acceptable by guides such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program. This meant no grouper or red snapper. Instead, I ate some absolutely fantastic yellowfin tuna, as well as mahi mahi, shrimp, calamari, crab, and clams. Yum, yum, yum, and yum. But I'm not gonna lie to you, folks: I also ate a few completely non-local, non-sustainable meals, especially on the drive to and fro. And, of course, the inevitable crunchy snacks while driving. But what the heck, it was a vacation!
On the way home we stopped at a citrus orchard to buy a bushel of grapefruits, oranges, and some sort of orange-tangerine hybrid. Hancock Orchards has been owned by the same family for 100 years, and it is not the kind of tourist trap you usually see advertised along the highways of Florida ("Oranges! Disney T-shirts! Seashells! 13-foot Alligator!"). The store was basically a warehouse filled with citrus. Employees drove tractors with end-loaders full of fruit into the warehouse and dumped their loads into large crates. Customers picked through the crates, mixing and matching what they wanted in 1/4-, 1/2-, or full-bushel bags. The owner was working in the store. He rang up our order and encouraged me to stuff even more fruit in a sack that I mistakenly thought was already full. I have become a citrus glutton, and I show no signs of slowing down until every last juicy slice is in my belly.
Next time: Springtime on the farm!