I’d Like to Lose 54 Pounds the Locavore Way

September 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

Rob Gardner

I talk diets a fair amount; mostly with my wife, occasionally with my parents, and sometimes with anyone else who will tolerate my theories.  I spout based on a good amount of reading on the subject (of course with the closing of Borders in Oak Park, my material resources got much stricter).  I think have pretty good ideas on ways to eat.  My influence, however, does not go far.  I may know what I’m talking about, but I’m fat.  Who takes diet advice from a fatman.  Maybe not as fat as I’ve been, and surely not as fat as some of the people I’ve run with over the years from the Chowhound-LTHForum crowds.  Still, I’m not afraid to say, I’m fat.  Maybe not fat enough that I need to (or can) lose 54 pounds, but fat enough that I’d love to lose a lot of weight.  54 pounds is the amount of weight Dana Cox lost by embarking on a year-long locavore challenge.

I met Dana Cox last night.  She proudly discussed her Honest Meal Project last night at the Green City Market Locavore Picnic Supper.   I admit for a part of her discussion, it was blah-blah-blah.  I know why to eat local.  I know how to eat local.  I’ve made it through not one, not two but like six winters on local food.  Then, “I lost 54 pounds.”  Hello.  And hello, I’ll tell you, maybe the old, cynical Rob would simply try to exploit Dana in my diet conversations with those who’d have it.  Hard time believing me on the health benefits of eating local, well here’s Dana Cox, less 54 pounds damnit.  But no, I’m rather inspired.  Maybe not fully motivated or committed but inspired of the possibilities demonstrated by Dana. Not just to talk about her, but to live a bit more like her.

Dana Cox defined her Healthy Meal Project parameters as requiring that all food consumed needed to be traceable back to a farmer.  It’s a definition that allows her successfully to stray from 100 or 300 mile boundaries, but it also restricted her greatly from commercial foods.  For instance, unlike me, she would not buy the Michigan celery at Caputo’s because she did not know the specific Michigan farmer.  Where we really differed, she allowed no exception for eating out or other foods not prepared by her.  That, I believe, is where the 54 pounds came from.  The Local Family loves eating out, and when we eat out, we do not necessarily seek out locavore establishments–I mean we like places like Big Jones and Vie, but we don’t eat exclusively at them.  There are meals out, surely, for ease or convenience.  Just last night the three girls went for pizza because various commitments made it difficult to get a dinner on the table.  Yet, we also eat out because we love eating out.  We love trying new foods, for instance a meal last week at the newly opened Lao Hunan.  Or, my wife and I had a blast luxuriating over many, many wines at Smith and Wollensky’s “wine week”.  We also possess weaknesses for the various products the industrial food system can offer us.  We have an ice cream maker.  We can pour in some Kilgus cream and Klug berries, but instead I bought two pints of Graeter’s ice cream the other night at Whole Foods.  As good as the Greaters is, they overwhelm by a few, the Hagen Daaz five ingredient challenge.  All of those meals, adds, I believe, the extras that leave me 54 pounds behind Dana.  It is foremost, more sugars.  It is also more fats, probably trans-fats even with the crackdown there.  It is also that guar gum that thickens the ice cream and all the other ingredients that cannot be traced to farms.    I’m not incredibly touchy-feely when it comes to food, but I think there is something, something, that puffs us up, in those additives.  Look at Dana.  The 54 pound less Dana.

I’m not going on a year long quest away from restaurant food and fast food and snack food.  I can list excuses and problems with why not.  I can also say flat out that I’m not giving up my Chinatown, my Maxwell Street, my Italian beef. I will work to lessen those things.  Every time we think about a meal out, I’m going to try to think again about it.  Do we need it.  Every time we think about bringing something snack-y, something industrial, something that violates Michael Pollan’s instructions, “can you pronounce the ingredients”, “would your grandmother recognize those ingredients”, I’m going to think about it.  Eat a nice piece of fruit bubala.  Since maybe I don’t need to lose 54 pounds, I don’t need to be perfect.  Since I do need to lose weight, I need to be a lot closer to perfect.  Stick to my locavore principles more.  Eat out less.  Snack less.  I’d like to lose it the locavore way.



  1. Paulette says:

    I look at cakes and cookies in the supermarkets at the farmers markets and at bakeries. I usually don’t buy. Not because of the ingredients but because I know I can make them with better and sometimes local ingredients and for a lot less money.

  2. Vicki Nowicki says:

    This summer I have really gotten serious about just eating from my garden and local fruit sources as well as local grass fed beef. I am not dieting per se and I am using some dairy from the grocery store but not all, also I am using a lot of local grains and eggs and dairy and what I can’t find, I’m just not using. Also, I’m storing like crazy for the winter so that, with microgreens and baby greens that I can grow myself and maybe with the winter markets, I think I’ll be fine. Anyway, I have lost 15 pounds this summer alone just by getting more disciplined about my garden(local) food. Believe me, I am not depriving myself or standing over the stove either.

  3. Terri G says:

    Dana Cox is truly an inspiration!

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