How to live a year in Austin without going to the grocery store

Carla Crownover from Austin Urban Gardens

By Carla Crownover
Republic of Austin

I currently am on the 164th day of  my self-imposed Year Without the Grocery Store Challenge.

Why go a year without going to the grocery store?

What prompted me to make this rather wacky decision was the movie Food, Inc.  I was already a fairly healthy eater, an avid vegetable gardener, was shopping mostly on the outer edges of the grocery store, and was already buying fresh, not processed foods, with the exception of canned black beans, canned tuna, tomato sauces, white flour, pasta, tortillas,  and condiments.

I bought most of my meats and vegetables at the grocery store, sometimes even at Costco.  I had frequented farmer’s markets for a couple of years, but I still went to the grocery store quite often, sometimes hitting several on Saturdays.   I had joined  Slow Food USA and Slow Food, Austin, organizations that aim to get folks reconnected with their food supply.

So, last Winter, after avoiding the movie Food, Inc. for months out of fear of what it would reveal, I decided to man up (or woman up) and watch it.   The effect of that movie and the information regarding the way commercial, industrial agriculture really works left an impact on me that has not lessened in six months. Seeing chickens being genetically modified and fed in a way that they can’t bear the weight of their own breasts, raised in layers, stacked in the dark their whole lives, was too much.  Learning the amount of hormones and antibiotics pumped into cattle, who are fed corn to fatten them up, when cattle are designed to eat grass, was rough. The manipulation of soy (and other) seeds by Monsanto, to make them resistant to their pesticide Round-up was the kicker.

I decided I didn’t want to eat that.  Any of it.  So, rather than thinking it through, planning ahead, weighing the pros and cons, I pronounced on Twitter that I was not going to shop at any grocery store for one year. The day after my pronouncement, I had second thoughts, but had gotten so much encouragement on Twitter and via email, that I knew I should stick with it.

Uh-oh. Now what?

The first consequences of my decision were immediate, as I ran out of dairy to put in my coffee.   There was not a Farmer’s Market until the following Wednesday, at the Triangle, and no dairy at that market. I quickly realized how convenient it had been to stop at Fresh Plus and pick up something for dinner on my way home from Downtown. And, I drank lots of Perrier.

Read the full post at Republic of Austin

14 responses to “How to live a year in Austin without going to the grocery store

  1. Congrats, you are/should be a role modle for so many!

  2. this is wonderful and inspiring!

  3. Great job! I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve seen any differences in your budget and weight.

  4. Congrats! AND Thank you for writing about your experience. I am in PA and the number of local farmers here is amazing and the food they have to offer tastes so good.

  5. I popped a link here to show Aussie Farmers just how enthused and determined consumers can be!
    I applaud your decision, and also bet your health and budget are better now:-)

  6. Yup, :-)
    thats posted on a brief posting , I did as soon as I got the F/F update:-)
    this one- was added on another page where it was also pertinent to cheer depressed farmers up:-)
    and show that consumers DO want to pay fair prices for real food from them, rather than crap in a can commercially.

  7. I am going to link to your article on my blog. I have returned to vegetarianism for the same reasons you mention. Eating the meat and eggs from animals that lives such horrible lives cannot be good. I don’t begrudge anyone their meat, but it is possible to buy from local farmers and ranchers so that kinder choices are made. Thanks for this article, full of resources. I will repost on Facebook and Stumble and Twitter.

  8. Just curious, but where do you buy things like toilet paper, razors, etc. This idea is really appealing, but it’s scary too. Mostly (and you know me because I have bought a couple of gardens from you) I’m concerned I wouldn’t have enough snacks for the children. Clearly, I need to change the way they eat, but without the occasional Power Bar to tide them over, they might dissolve into a puddle. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading and learning.

  9. Just when I was losing hope for Texans (I moved to NY from Texas almost a decade ago) someone proves me wrong. You are my shero! We have most of this in Western New York, and here it’s easy to eat locally, but I always wondered how I would live if I had to move back to Texas and shop at HEB every day o_O but I’m happy to see someone of a like mind in my old state. I visit our local grocer for special things, which I call the “food spa” because I get most of my food from a CSA or the farmer’s market. Keep up the good work!

  10. Thank you so much for writing about your food experience. It is inspiring and gives me hope about my food future. I have been working on staying away from the grocery store for years, and now rarely go there. I like Trader Joe’s sometimes and Wegmans, but Whole Foods turns me off- canola in everything which tends to become rancid very fast. How can we go back to that when we have so much tasty, beautiful food to look forward to ? !!

    Now to make my own soap and detergent!

  11. Wow! Inspiring. as Ben Franklin once said, “well done is better than well said.”

  12. So admirable! Way to go! MANY animals, MANY people (less pollution!), and others like us who want to learn thank you! :)

  13. I totally respect what you’re doing and appreciate being turned on to a few new businesses I’m happy to support. I can’t help but put in a plug for Wheatsville though. So many of the people and businesses you mentioned buying from are also supported and promoted by the food coop. It’s a local grocery store I believe in supporting.

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