Green Grocer Chicago

  (Chicago, Illinois)
The Life and Times of Green Grocer Chicago

A New Year, a new way of eating!

As another holiday season passes us by and the New Year approaches, I find myself in the same conundrum many do : To resolve or not to resolve.  Like many of us in this land of plenty we call America, I spend the month between Thanksgiving and New Year's basically throwing dietary caution to the wind, eating whatever I want and mostly eschewing any regular exercise routine.  And heck, I own an organic grocery store so if I can't find a way to eat healthily, who can? 
As my family gatherings and friends' parties wind down, I ask myself the annual question-What are my New Year's resolutions?  A few favorites include:  Lose 10 lbs, completely cut out sugar and white flour, eat only raw, eat only vegan, eat only raw and vegan, run 20 miles a week, do yoga every morning, meditate every night....and the list goes on.  Now, I call them my favorites because it seems like every year, the same resolutions come up, meaning that each year I "fail" myself and my resolve.  I find New Year's Day almost as exciting as a five-year-old might find Christmas morning, waking up to the dawn of the day where I become a better person.  My enthusiasm (and stringent commitment to my list of resolutions) usually lasts 3-4 days at which point I get so annoyed with my own strictness that I promptly dive into a batch of organic cookies, candies, a stick of butter or whatever else I manage to get my paws on.  So, is the idea of a New Year's resolution just stupid or was I just being stupid about my approach? 
Last year, when we opened our little organic grocer (Green Grocer Chicago), I made a more reasonable resolution: try to eat as much local and organic food as possible.  I realized that so many of my old resolutions came from a place of vanity more than anything else.  What was different about last year was that I was looking at a bigger picture than just myself.  For the most part, eating local and organic foods are great for one's health (of course there are some that still need to be eaten very moderately-baked goods, desserts, meats, chips, etc).  Locally grown produce (especially that which is also grown organically) has better chance of retaining the invaluable nutrients and vitamins than produce that has been shipped across the country or the world.  Also, local produce almost always tastes better!  Eating within the seasons of your region means that not everything is available all the time but when it is available, it's probably going to rock your world.  I can't tell you the amount of times that I hear from our customers that some vegetable or fruit was "the best they had ever had", not because of anything that I do but because the local farmers are growing for taste, not transportability.  Also, what a great sense of security that we personally know most of our growers.  When the "tainted tomato" scare of this past summer occured, grocers and restaurants were pulling tomatoes off their shelves faster than you can say "salmonella".  We just called Floyd, our tomatofarmer in Southern Illinois, and asked if we had anything to worry about.  He said absolutely not.  End of story.  Our tomatoes were safe and delicious. 
Probably one of the biggest reasons that I'm also happy eating a majority local and organic foods is the positive environmental impact I'm supporting.  The less pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, hormones and such that end up in our soil and our water supply (not to mention our bodies), the better.  That's one of those common sense facts that most people would simply have to agree with (I suppose unless you are the CEO of a pesticide manufacturer).  Also, the reduction of transporting foods all around the globe reduces air pollution and dependance on fossil fuels, foreign or otherwise.  Again, less pollution=good, less reliance on a non-renewable resource=good, clean water=good, fertile soil=good.  
So this year when you are thinking about your New Years resolutions, how about making it one that makes you feel good (mentally and physically), helps your local economy and helps the environment?  Sure sounds better than "lose 10 pounds", right? 
If you have questions about how to eat locally and organically on a budget, feel free to email me at

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I enjoyed your post and feel the same way about having favorites every New Year's Day. I hope you'll keep us updated.

(former Aurora, IL resident)

Posted by Candace on December 27, 2008 at 07:16 PM CST #

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