The last month I did something I never had done, I worked a door-to-door job.
For one month I was “The Vegan Man at your Door“.
How did it come about? Ever since we let the store go we have been trying to figure out our next step, our next project. I went to check out an opportunity with a local CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture Program) and it happened to be a job going door-to-door talking about their farm-to-your-door organic fruits and vegetables program.
Is there anything I like more than talking about fruits and vegetables? No there is not!
So I said “Why Not?” I was waiting on another opportunity to open up so I thought it would be fun as a temporary job. It was a blast and I have a new found respect for people doing door-to-door. You expend a tremendous amount of physical energy when you walk for 5 hours a day, you need an optimist outlook and you need the ability to deal with rejection and not take things personal. I think everyone could use a little door-to-door experience. I learned a lot of things. One of those things is that a 60 year old vegan can keep up with guys and gals half his age! That alone, my friends, is a pretty good recommendation for eating a Vegan Diet!
I had just read an article recently that said if you are eating conventionally grown produce you were consuming 10-13 toxic pesticides per day!
I told Roxana…how lucky am I to walk around in sunny SoCal and talk to people about fruits and vegetables every afternoon. So I spent a month learning about door-to-door sales and learning more about people and their dietary habits. Door-to-door can be so interesting, behind every door is another world and another reality. I learned a lot about people, food and diet while we had our store but this month’s experience was eye-opening. While at a store you have people seeking you out. While going door to door you are tapping into a completely random selection of the community and all that it has to offer.
My objective was to get people to try our CSA program and sign up for a box of Fresh, Certified Organic, Non-GMO’d Fruits and Vegetables brought to your door at a reasonable price. Roxana and I have used various CSA programs over the past 20 years so the idea was not at all new to us. CSA’s are a great way to connect the community with local farmers and the local economy.
The 2 main reasons people do not eat Organic are usually Cost and Convenience.
If the cost of organics was the same as conventionally grown fruits and vegetables I do not think anyone would eat congenital produce. 50 years ago 90% of your market produce was organic. Now you have to look for it and pay more for it. CSA’s are a way to combat both of those challenges to eating organic.
I learned quite a bit about people and the food they eat in the last month!
I learned that a lot of people are looking for alternatives to eat better and healthier.
A lot of people are looking for ways to make healthy changes and they also like the idea of helping the local economy if possible. People are concerned about their health, the health of their community and the health of the planet. Seeing this fires me up to do even more to get the health message out!
I also learned that the CSA concept is alive and well.
But for every person looking for alternatives and better health there are dozens who are not interested in making changes, any changes, or eating organic. What is the most common response from people about diet?
“I eat whatever!”
I do not think it is that they do not care about their health. They just do not care to do something proactive about it. That is a sad commentary on where people are about their health.
Below are 4 Things I learned working for a CSA Program.
1) People are afraid to make changes, especially when it comes to their food and diet.
This is not really new news for me. Our experience at our store drove this fact home big time. We are such animals of habit. Most people are afraid of trying something new. There is so little sense of adventure. Our comfort zones for food are so shallow. We are stuck doing the same old things and eating the same old things. Unfortunately we get the same old results…bad health. I had young couples tell me that the only fruits and vegetables they eat are onions and bell peppers. That is it!
2) There are a lot of sick people in our communities.
There are a lot of people with health challenges in our neighborhoods. For me the first steps you need to take if you a have a health issue, any health issue, is to drink more water and eat more fruits and vegetables. But honestly, for most people I encountered with health problems, 99% of their focus was on their medications and what their doctors could do for them instead of what they could do actively with their food, diet and water. I will never forget a really nice middle aged couple I met, a man and wife who, just by looking at them, you could tell they were holding on to life by a thread. They described themselves as a household of “two sick people”. According to them they did not eat a piece of fruit or a whole vegetable between them….in a week!
3) People’s customs govern their eating habits.
We were selling boxes of locally-grown, in-season mixed fruits and vegetables. People would say “What if I do not want to eat that this week” or “That is not what I want to eat or cook.” I get it! We all want to eat the things we grew up with, those familiar comfortable meals. That is Ok, but we need to be open to change too. Do I really want to eat the same thing that gave my relatives diabetes, cancer and stroke? Tradition is great but it also got us sick! You can make all your traditional meals with different fruits, different vegetables and healthier ingredients. Why not eat a diet that revolves around what is healthy, organic and in-season rather than just what you are used to? My family has grown to expect some different version of tamales every year for Christmas. I am not going to give up my heritage and customs. I want to eat tamales for Christmas…they are just healthier tamales now. There are unlimited combinations of foods you can make but most people approach the kitchen with a very limited vision.
4) People are afraid to experiment.
I would show people a picture of a box of fruits and vegetables. Really basic foods, like potatoes, carrots, broccoli and greens. People would repeatedly say “I wouldn’t know what to do with that!” God forbid that you should get a vegetable in your box that was really out of the ordinary. It is so easy to eat healthy! Make a salad with the greens. Cut up the veggies, steam them. Combine with rice or quinoa or noodles or beans or potatoes or sweet potatoes and in 15 minutes you have a complete meal.
Eating Healthy is always Simple and Easy!
I also found that there is a sector of Los Angeles households living solely on Top Ramen. It is sad to say that it was more common for me to find a household that only eats Top Ramon 24/7 than it was to find a vegetarian household.
Finding a vegetarian household in the general population is almost nonexistent. Out of 2000 households I visited I think I found one vegan and one vegetarian person and not even one vegetarian household. Out of the same 2000 households I found 3 that live on Top Ramen!
One of the funniest experiences I had was knocking on a door and having a great conversation with a really nice European woman who was so conscious about making some real change for better family health. She told me that her 20 year old daughter had become a vegan. When I told her that I was a vegan you wold have thought she had won the lottery. She yelled out, to her daughter, at the top of her voice ” I am talking with a Vegan Man at the Door!”
I guess if I was a Super Hero that is the name I would have to choose!
It is a shame that a Vegan Diet is such an oddity! Our health, our economy and our world could benefit from it!
In my next article I will share info about a couple of different CSA programs and a way to get your Organic Fruits and Vegetables for FREE!
Now Go and Eat Vegan!