Friday, June 1, 2012

Shopping Gluten Free and Buying Local

Ok, so I know buying local isn't something that is strict to eating gluten-free, but you might find that it makes your experience in finding gluten free food a little easier. Not to mention, when you buy certain products locally like eggs, milk, meat, and other animal products, you are taking a stand against animal cruelty in factory farms.

So today is Friday, which means it's pay day! First thing we do with a pay day in my house? Stock up food stuffs. With a boy in the house who has the appetite of a teenager, we make sure we stock up well too, or we can easily go hungry.

Our first stop will be to ROOTS Natural Foods in Leominster, MA ( I have been going to ROOTS since I first found out I was gluten-free. The staff there are extremely helpful, and some of them are gluten free themselves, and offer their experiences and advice. Everything in the store is local, which is totally awesome, and they have lots of options for all sorts of  diet needs. My boyfriend and I often frequent there when we want to make a dinner together as I am gluten free and he's a vegetarian.
My absolute favorite part of ROOTS is in the summer, they hold a giant festival called ROOTS-Fest! They have all the local suppliers for their store have booths all over the giant lot and into the store. You get to meet the people behind the products, and try lots of new things! Some of them even bring their animals! (Totally cool for chickens and cows, not so much the bees!) They throw a giant BBQ for all those attending, and they make sure there is food for every kind of diet there! Everything is very clearly labeled for all the different diets in attendance, so you know what you are eating is gluten free, or vegan. You can be sure you'll see more info about that as ROOTS-Fest approaches this summer!
So by the end of my prowl through the isles of ROOTS, I usually have 1-2 loaves of gluten free bead, some kind of cookie, and whatever I happen to find in the clearance rack. My mother and I then hop into the car, and off we go to the next store!

Now as I continue this next section, I want to explain. I know that Shaws is not a local store, and they carry many products that are not cruelty free, but my younger brother is not someone who is really proactive about that kind of stuff, and is extremely picky about what foods he eats, so off to Shaws we go!
We start in produce, and usually get a good pile of things there, depending on what is in season, and what actually looks like decent food. (some weeks we get avocado, some weeks....not so much...)
Depending on my brother's mood, my mom will stop at the deli. Some weeks he wants sandwiches everyday, other weeks the meat goes to spoil, so we judge that each trip. We then grab a nice big tub of hummus (YUM!) and head off to, what I like to call, "the rest of the world isle". I love looking at all the flags and symbols all over the isle. For that one section, it's like I'm in a completely different store. I buy LOTS of rices, beans, and corn tortillas (make sure you check the labels!!) On nights that my mom and brother are enjoying a glutenous meal, I often enjoy eating a burrito of some sort.
I'll spare you the middle part of the trip, which involves zombie-like walking down the middle isles, looking for good snacks and sales, and we come to the reduced price items. I wanna to stop right here and point out that reduced price items don't mean they are about to spoil. Sometimes it means the bought WAY TOO MUCH of that product, and need to get rid of it. Once in a while, I get lucky and they have something like gluten-free cookies or donuts chilling there (yay!!), and other weeks, it's Easter candy from 2 months ago....
Then we swoop by dairy so mom can grab her soy creamer (my mother is lactose intolerant) and off we go to the checkout. (make sure you have your reusable grocery bags!!!)

Then we bring things home, because who wants froyo soup??? (ok so I might, but my brother might not...) And depending on the time, one of two things happens. If it's early enough, we go hit up a farmer's market and see what's for sale. I usually like to save this for Saturday mornings, but who am I to ever say no to a farmer's market?? If it's late though, we just make some dinner and try and get all work/homework done before Saturday hits.

Farmer's Markets in my area, unfortunately, are often pretty tiny. Although we live in an area where there are a number of farms, a lot of them bring their produce to the markets in the city, and we have to travel a distance to get to then. Fortunately, my mother has promised me a Haymarket trip in the next month! YAY!! For those of you who are not from the Boston area, Haymarket is a MASSIVE farmer's market where you can find ANYTHING at really great prices!! Julia Child often visited Haymarket when she lived in the Boston area. I will make sure to take lots of pictures and report back to you all on my trip there!

I'm going to be honest, I am not sure how much this post is going to help you if you do not live in my area, but maybe it will inspire you to visit a more local store, or explore a festival nearby this summer! If you do live in my area, I will be posting info about ROOTS-Fest as they announce more info, and I think it would be great if you came down and gave it a try!

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