Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eat Local Challenge: Riding in the wagon

Well, I kind of fell off the wagon when it came to posting about the Eat Local Challenge this month. What can I say? It's been busy. The fact is, we now eat a lot of local, although our dinners still are not up to any 90% local level. If I look at all our food purchases, we probably eat 50% local foods. Many people do a lot better than that, but for us it's a large step in a good direction. I hope I can do a post like this next October and report that the percentage is even higher.

I began sourcing local foods around this time last year and it was a big deal. Now, it's just how I shop! That's not to say that I've given up our weekly trip to the grocery store. We still go, and not just because Munchkin would miss seeing all the firemen and his favorite checker. But there are a lot of foods that I no longer even consider purchasing there. Our fruit and veggies all come from local farms (except mushrooms -- I still haven't gotten brave enough!). I buy eggs directly from local farmers or from a market that stocks local farm eggs. Our meat is 90% local, although our free-range chicken comes from Washington. Salmon comes from the fishing line of my father-in-law. All our dairy products are local except for that wonderful maple yogurt that an independent grocer stocks... I make my own jam in the summer, shell local walnuts in the fall, and grow mystery squash out of the compost pile. When I look at this list, I wonder if my 50% guess is a little low! I've not ordered local flour for a while because the prices just got to be too high, but I'll probably look into that again when winter comes. I'm also trying to buy more free trade or organic sugar and chocolate, although sometimes I don't. The organic chocolate has spoiled me for the regular stuff, though!

So I haven't had many 90% local meals to report, but every night we're eating probably half local foods. Pressed for time last night, I cut up a local onion and fried it with a little ground beef from a friend-of-a-friend's cow. Then I added a bag of homemade (local) tomato sauce from the freezer, some spices, noodles, and called it spaghetti. Later that evening, I snacked on my own roasted pumpkin seeds. That's pretty typical of how we eat when I don't get fancy, and I reach for local ingredients because that's what happens to be in the house. In the winter, the percentage of local foods will go down because I didn't do as much preserving this summer, but I now know about a local source of produce that will last at least until Christmas.

It's not too exciting, but it's become the new normal. I'm going to sit out the next "eat local" challenge because I need to spend more time on my book than I spend blogging, but I'd really encourage someone who's never tried one of these challenges to pick up the baton. It's fun, it's educational, it's good for the planet, it's delicious, and it'll spoil you for eating any other way. If you do sign up, please drop me a comment and let me know!

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