Hello everyone and welcome!
I feel honored to have the opportunity to share with you my ongoing journey converting my family to a more sustainable lifestyle, and hope that my story will inspire you to make a change in your own life. Believe it or not my decision to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle really wasn’t a difficult choice but I definitely took a few detours along the way. I grew up in rural Southern New Jersey, raised by my grandparents who for over 50 years have maintained a bountiful victory garden. Eating fresh, seasonal, sustainable food was a part of daily life as a child, I didn’t know what it was to eat a hot house tomato or corn out of a can. But like many kids growing up who are often curious about what goes on in other homes, I loved visiting friends whose parents allowed them to eat frozen dinners and Twinkies.
Fast forward many years later, I was a young woman living on my own who didn’t find anything wrong with eating a tomato in the middle of February that traveled over a 500 miles to reach my local supermarket I had also become quite familiar with syrupy sweet cola and greasy potato chips. It wasn’t until ten years ago when I was a culinary student that I got the wake-up call I needed. I had an instructor who had spent many years in Italy and was a huge proponent of local, seasonal, and sustainable food. She would take us on field trips to New York’s infamous Union Square Greenmarket sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge about cooking seasonally and supporting local farmers. My first thought was well “what’s the big deal?”, but once I spent a little time getting to know some of the local farmers and listening to their own stories I soon discovered just how big a deal it was. I made a promise from that day on to always support local agriculture no matter where I was living. Supporting local agriculture was the easy part, but at the time committing to a completely sustainable lifestyle was a little harder especially living in a place like New York City.
By the time I returned to Southern New Jersey, the world had suddenly been alerted to the fact that we were destroying our planet and there was something seriously wrong with the food industry in this country. I was more than happy to do my part, to rejoin my grandfather in his garden and share the fruits of our labor, but I was still relying a little too much on some processed foods.
When I first met my husband, Jamie, I was mortified when he told me he had never eaten fresh corn on the cob. Jamie’s upbringing mimics what we still see so much of in our country today. He is the product of a broken home, lived in subsidized housing where his mother was on and off public assistance during most of his childhood. Jamie very rarely had fresh produce and knew nothing about growing produce on his own. I suppose it would be weird to say that this only made me love him more, but it did, and I was excited because there was so much I could teach him and share. When I lovingly informed him that our household would be different than what he’d known he wasn’t the most willing participant and still fights me on some of the changes that I’ve made since we’ve been married, but once our two little ones came along he finally began to see the light…sort of.
Next week the saga continues, I’ll share exactly what steps I have taken to live a more sustainable lifestyle and a funny story about my husband’s very first trip to the Farmer’s Market.
Heather Jones is a wife, mother, freelance food writer, and graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has worked for Gourmet Magazine, TV Personality Katie Brown, and the New York based Indian-fusion restaurant Tabla. Heather resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. She is a strong supporter of the Sustainable Food Movement and believes that education is the key to making a difference.