Eating Organically on Vacation

06 Jul
When this is the first thing you see when you enter a restaurant, things are good!

When this is the first thing you see when you enter a restaurant, things are good!

 

While eating a primarily organic/GMO free diet can be tricky in real life, the feat can be quite taxing in the non-reality of family vacation.

My kids already know our 10% rule, which states we’re going to have to eat roughly 10% GMO food attending social functions, aka; leaving the house.

No mater how much planning you do, BBQs, weddings, pool parties, vacations, showers, country fairs, the ice cream truck, and concerts will happen, and thinking you can fill a cooler of your own food for every event isn’t realistic (allergies not withstanding).

However, having just returned from family vacation I can say the options are getting better.

I’m sure if we set off for a week in NASCAR country the report may be different, but that world isn’t mine.  We headed into the woods of New Hampshire for amusement park madness, the funky Burlington,Vermont for some culture, and the fabulous Montreal for Jazz Fest.

We learned last year that paying $40 for bad pizza at the amusement park for ‘lunch’ wasn’t just a pain in the wallet, but a gross feeling overall.  The principle of the thing has become a driving factor in my 10% away from home food purchases.  So this year we actually did indeed pack our own lunch, and timed our roller-coastering around a food break.

The food was organic, light, and yummy, and didn’t cost anywhere near $40.  The water was filtered and brought with us, not bottled for $4 a pop.

Score one for the travelers!

But of course, you can’t make 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners ahead of time and fill a cooler. Yes we traveled with 3 big bags of organic food and a cooler; fruit, chips, crackers, cereal, milk, juice, bars, chocolate, water, peanut butter, jelly, and bread…. The staple items that are handy when a kid is hungry (hungry!!) immediately out of nowhere and nearing meltdown, or when you’re driving 2-3 hours and really don’t want to A. stop, or B. pay $$ for bad roadside convenience store fair.

So, with breakfast covered organically on the cheap (nothing like cereal out of a Hilton mug!), and pb&j covering a couple lunches, that still left quite a few meals to cover.  Dining is a great social joy of traveling, but if you have unhappy kids at the table the experience can be a nightmare.

We totted a goodly amount of BBQ items for our vegetarians to our first night meal at my brother in laws in NH, including our own organic lettuce from our garden.  I even managed to find my favorite Peak Organic IPA at the NH grocery store… and it was $3 cheaper for a sixer!  Live Free Or Die! NH rocks!

I ate a steak for the first time in a long while, because I’m the cook and live with 2 vegetarians, so I never buy the stuff.  Considering my thoughts on commercial meat and the treatment of animals also, I just don’t buy it anymore.  But following the 10% rule I ate it and enjoyed it.  We topped it with organic onions and peppers. Stuff happens.

Then we traveled to Burlington VT., and I have to say, I could retire there. Like now.

MANY restaurants featured local/organic options, and some were MOSTLY organic/fair trade. This is HUGE. Yes Burlington is a college town, a hippie enclave, and funky music capital, but so is Cambridge, Massachusetts where I lived and still spend time in, and it’s nowhere near this level.

Dinner on night two in Burlington was at American Flatbread, a pizza joint and brewery that featured not only their own IPA, but a menu filled with organics.  AND, they were also running a fundraiser for 350.org that night (beyond coincidence for Green Dad), giving $4 PER PIE to the cause.  Considering the business they were doing even on a Tuesday night, I’m sure that equaled hundreds if not a couple thousand dollars.  I Lovermont!

Was this place for real?  To prove it is indeed Oz, breakfast the next day was at The Skinny Pancake who proclaim; “Eating local isn’t simply including a gourmet VT food product in every crepe, it’s constructing everything we do to be as local and sustainable as possible while still running a healthy business that brings people together to enjoy great food, music and merriment in our community.”

AND they had a self serve water bar! I  mean, c’mon!!

Feeling Green?  Wanna take the kids somewhere fun?  Go to Burlington VT., right now.  Wash it all down with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream too, because they have TONS of GMO-free ice cream flavors already!

While Canada has GMOs like the USA has GMOs, Montreal is also filled with many restaurants and shops that feature local and organic options.  Our hotel was actually right across the street from a ‘Bio’, or organic shop.  Green Dad coincidence #2!

We ate Mexican food at a groovy little local spot suggested by a friend called Mais, and they tout “We get our ingredients from some of the best local, organic, and sustainable producers around.”  Tres Bien!

So once again I say Boom!  Not only can it be done, but it is being done all around.  Yes, our trip was concentrated in the funky hip East Coast of North America, but it also crossed our border into Canada and seemed to only get better.

Last year we went to California and Disney and Legoland, and sadly the organic/Non-GMO choices were slim.  Was I going to deny my kids an epic West Coast trip because of diet?  No.  The ole 10% rule does come in handy.

While I don’t plan family vacations around eating REAL FOOD, knowing I CAN will make a big difference moving forward.

Better choices are out there, take a trip and go find ’em.

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