Where did your breakfast come from?

This was me, most of the weekend. Buried up to my eyebrows in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. On the bus, at Boyfriends, on my couch, sprawled across the floor. I couldn't put it down.

In the (non-fiction) book, Kingsolver and her family choose to eat only locally grown/produced food for one year (with only minor, inescapable exceptions like coffee, which they purchase free-trade). The family has relocated to a farm in Appalachia and conveniently is able to grow much of their food themselves (though she recognizes that this would be nearly impossible for an apartment dweller). The rest they get from their local farmers market and other local farmers and butchers.

As one of those apartment dwellers whose patio gets next to no sun, I didn't expect to be told how to grow my own lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, and raise turkeys. (Although as a former Little House on the Prairie disciple--books, not TV show--I rather hoped that I would). Instead, I gained a better understanding of seasonal growing, the importance of supporting local farmers, and the environmental impact of eating a tomato from South America.

I decided a year ago to become a vegetarian (technically a pescatarian, as I still eat fish and shellfish). For a while I cut milk too, but missed cheese too much. But I still abstained from pork, poultry, and beef. I did this out of concern for my part in the cruel treatment of factory-farmed meat animals, for my health and weight, and for my moral dilemma of eating food that I wouldn't kill myself.

When Kingsolver's oldest daughter was young, they drove past a meat farm. The horror of all the sad, cramped cows made Camille swear off factory-farmed meat, and the rest of the family decided to too, which at the time, meant swearing off meat. Where they lived there just weren't other options. But with the increasing popularity of organic free-range meats (in light of the health issues and treatment), one has options for finding chemical/antibiotic/corn/torture free meat that's raised locally.

For me the story of their search for meat was what really hit home. It's easy enough for me to grab fresh fruit and veggies at a farmer's market (and even eventually grow some in the garden), but accepting meat as a natural part of an omnivore's diet is really important too.

So I had some chicken last night. Not a lot, but enough to really taste it and remember what I've been turning away for such a long time. I can't lie--it wasn't great chicken, and it was probably as factory-farmed as you can get. But I needed it as my stepping-stone back into the world of the omnivore.

I'm not going to vow to only eat locally or only eat organically, but I certainly have been inspired to try harder, make an effort, and see what happens. And I'll take you along for the ride.