Many of us are buying more local produce and meats, frequenting the farmers markets a little more often than the grocery store. My friend Carla Crownover has taken her locavore lifestyle to a whole new level. She challenged herself at the beginning of the year to go one year without shopping at a grocery store.
To give you some perspective, Carla, co-owner of Austin Urban Gardens
, is a foodie. Central Market was one of her favorite outings each week, exploring new foods and tastes as she shopped. When she told me of her new undertaking, my first question was “How are you going to go a year without Central Market?” Carla apparently has greater resolve and discipline than me.
I recently interviewed Carla to see how it was going. You can follow Carla and her daily updates on her “No Grocery Store Challenge” on her blog
Why did you decide to start the “Year with No Grocery Store Challenge?”
Carla Crownover: I was inspired to start the No Grocery Store Challenge for a Year, after seeing the movie “Food, Inc.” It was quite an eye opening look into our food supply and it disgusted me. I already had a substantial garden and shopped at Farmers Markets, but not exclusively. I’m learning every day how much I relied on the grocery stores for more than I realized.
AF2T: If you aren’t shopping at the grocery store, where are you shopping?
Carla Crownover: I am shopping at Farmers Markets and occasionally Boggy Creek Farm. I have relied heavily on Richardson Farms for beef, pork and chicken; Kocurek Family Charcuterie for prepared sausages and bacon, and Countryside Farms for duck eggs. I’m looking forward to the opening of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop so that I can get Pure Luck Cheese there, since they aren’t at the farmer’s markets. [Note: Antonelli’s opened on Thursday, February 11, 2010.]
AF2T: Are you growing any of your own food and, if so, what?
Carla Crownover: Currently in the garden I am growing broccoli, several varieties of lettuce, carrots, onions, fennel, garlic, shallots, strawberries and watermelon radishes. I also have a most of the herbs growing in pots in the greenhouse.
AF2T: What do you do about essentials like toilet paper, shampoo and soap?
Carla Crownover: I have always bought shampoo from my hair salon. I get soap at Tarrytown Pharmacy when I pick up my prescriptions, and toilet paper, toothpaste, and actually some spices at CVS. Home Depot has toilet paper and cleaning supplies as well. I get Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning supplies at Breed and Company.
AF2T: You’ve made it through the first full month, what has been the biggest challenge so far? Are there any foods that you miss?
Carla Crownover: The biggest challenge is planning ahead. I’m learning to think several meals ahead, when before I would just pick something up. I’m learning to plan ahead more in the garden as well, so that it can be more productive all year round.
I miss lots of things: avocados, canned beans, canned tuna, rice, the tarragon chicken salad at Whole Foods, salmon, fresh jalapenos, garlic, already made tortillas, and Costco coffee, because it is good and so much cheaper. I loved the deli sandwiches at the Fresh Plus on West Lynn. I still eat out, so I’m not really deprived.
AF2T: Have you had any surprises or revelations in your first month?
Carla Crownover: I didn’t realize how often I went to the grocery store, and sometimes several different ones in one day for different things. I also did not realize how often I’m not in the mood for what I’ve got planned for dinner, so I would run out and pick something else up.
AF2T: Have you been tempted to go in a grocery store?
Carla Crownover: I had lunch with a friend at the Cafe at Central Market. I did peer into the store before I left and was tempted to go grab a cart and fill it with lots of fun stuff, but then I realized I didn’t really need anything.