Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 731 Year Three! January 1, 2012

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Two years ago yesterday, I made a Twitter proclamation that changed my life.  I announced that I was embarking on a challenge not to shop at a grocery store for a year.  Now two years later, it isn’t a challenge anymore, but a way of life.  I still get asked where I get shampoo and other non-food items, and people visiting curiously peek into the fridge, freezer or pantry, perhaps hoping to catch me in a grocery store indiscretion.  I have my paper items, dish soap, toothpaste and such on delivery subscription with Amazon, so they arrive on my porch every couple of months.  I have occasionally had someone pick up lemons for my canning and I get bulk vinegar at CVS for pickling projects, and I made a trip for cookie making for a holiday cookie exchange. My spices come from Savory Spice Shop.

This past year there were more food recalls than ever before, it seems;  Salmonella in eggs, tons upon tons of tainted beef, deadly cantaloupes, watermelons exploding in China from being injected with growth hormone.  I was thankful each time that I didn’t have to check sku numbers on my egg cartons, or dates and origins on my beef or chicken.  I read an article just last week about GMO corn causing cancer in rats.   Duh.  If we keep modifying our food, it is no wonder our bodies can’t recognize it, but I’m not going to preach.

My one big foray into the grocery store this year was unpleasant and I don’t wish to repeat it.  I wrote about the experience here  In contrast to that experience, my weekly food shopping at local farmer’s markets and our fabulous farms is more about community than shopping.  I’ve come to know the people behind my food sources, the farmers and local food artisans, and in one Saturday of shopping, I usually give and receive lots of hugs, catch up with family stories, (and sometimes a little farmer’s market gossip), play frisbee with my favorite farm dog.  That just doesn’t happen at the grocery store.

Fortunately, more and more restaurants are sourcing from local farms.  If you are interested, just ask, and those who are really sourcing locally will tell you where they got what.  Unfortunately, as the local movement gains more of a foothold, more and more restaurants are using some catchwords to make us think they are sourcing locally, but they aren’t.    Again, just ask – the ones who aren’t being honest need to be called out.

This past year, thanks to an abundant garden, I took several classes and learned to can.  It started with tomatoes, and went on to canning  everything I could get my hands on.

Once that obsession took hold, and the horrible summer heat and drought drove me inside, I turned to fruit and started making jam.  (I order organic cane sugar in bulk from Amazon)

So, while my first “No Grocery Store” year was about figuring out how to make do with what I could get at the farmer’s market, the second year was more about preserving what I could, from season to season.  My pantry (and now the overflow pantry as well) is filled with just about everything I need to make good food year round.

Well Stocked Pantry

So, moving forward into my third year of  “No Grocery Store,” I’m hoping to continue being a better gardener, cook and preserver.  The food sourcing is not a challenge, as our markets have expanded and grown and there is more local food than ever.  My newest project will be to start making my own sausages, and I’m looking forward to that.  I’d also like to try making bacon again, now that my favorite source of bacon, Kocurek Family Artisinal Charcuterie, is no more.  They were a huge part of the last two years of my life and they will be missed.  I wish Lee and Larry the very best in their new endeavors.  It was a good run, and I learned a lot about charcuterie from them both.

Here are a couple of things worth watching, if you are interested in our food system.  Happy New Year!


11 Responses to “No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 731 Year Three!”

  1. I’d love to read about your single foray into the grocery store, but the URL isn’t working — it takes me to an admin login page for your blog. In any event, Happy New Year!

  2. Bill Hines Says:


  3. Claudia A Says:

    You rule and are a great inspiration my friend. i hope to follow in your footsteps soon. making my own sausages is on my list for this year as well, maybe we can learn together! On another note, what happened with Larry? His stuff was so good…

  4. Phyllis Says:

    What a crazy (but amazing!) challenge! I’m glad I found your blog…looking forward to more non-grocery updates (and canning recipes, please) 🙂

    • Hi Phyllis,
      Welcome! I have lots of food related plans this year, and there should be lots more canning, especially if my garden does well this Spring. Looking forward to expanding my food skills, too! Glad you stopped by.

  5. Kendall Says:

    Way to go Carla! Although time seems to fly by and I don’t say it enough, you are really an inspiration – in addition to being a great friend and resource on the Austin food scene. Looking forward to reading your sausage-making adventures…

  6. Thank you!! The cheese shop is a great resource to me, and the rest of Austin. We are very lucky…

  7. Rob Bird Says:

    This is an incredible story! I’m amazed that this didn’t end up being ‘a cool thing you did once’ but something that completely changed your life. Kudos to you…

    • Thank so much! I like to say that so went in search of food and found my people. The local food is just part of it, it’s also about the farmers, ranchers and growers who are a big part of my life now.

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