Local Food Challenge

If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember how I challenged myself to a local food experiment last winter. Well, I won’t tell you that I forgot about it, but circumstances have not been favorable so far.

When I sat down to think about why I haven’t gotten on board with this yet, I came up with a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, our local farmer’s market just started this week. I bought all the strawberries and blueberries they had, plus potatoes, onions, beets, green peppers, grape tomatoes (which were amazing!) and peaches. Without buying at the farmer’s market, I have to travel a significant distance to get local produce. Which I really should have done, particularly in strawberry season.

The reason I didn’t drive an hour and buy 100 pounds or so of strawberries, was simply because I could not afford it. This wooden toymaker lives more or less hand to mouth. I support the idea of stocking up on local produce and freezing it for later, but in practice, my capital is limited to what I’ll eat in a week or two. In the fall, I have more money, and I can stock up a little bit.

Living in steeltown, usa, farms are at a distance. I’m spoiled growing up in southern New Jersey, which is very developed, but still has multiple farms in almost every town near where I lived. We lived a mile away from a 100+ acre farm that sold loads of fruit and some vegetables and delicious sweet corn. Now the nearest farms are 30 or more minutes away and small, the larger farms (with more variety) are an hour or more away. (I know, I’m a big whiner.)

The selection at the markets are pretty limited, especially for fruit, which makes up a large portion of my diet. And they almost never have any lettuce!

So I was going over all these excuses in my head, when I stopped myself. First of all, I asked myself, why are you doing this?

Well, I want really good food, preferably organic. Small farmers grow really good food.

I also want to support businesses that don’t lobby the government to put their competition out of business (check out Joel Salitin’s books for more about that sordid affair).

I want my money to go to family farms, where people can work at their own pace, on their own land. As a small business owner myself, I love working at home, and I want more people to experience that same freedom. Why should I pay some corporation in California for inferior produce at more or less the same price (or more) just because I’m too lazy to hit up the farmer’s market??

I also agree with the usual environmental reasons, but I can’t get excited about them like I can about immediate reasons like money in my farmer friends pockets and tomatoes that are to die for.

When I went over those reasons, I realized that I don’t have to scrap the whole experiment because my farmers can’t meet ALL my needs. I just need to meet as many of my needs at the market as I can, and let the farmer’s know, that if they can get me lettuce or more fruit or kale, I’ll buy it. If they start early in the summer/spring, I’ll be there. In the meantime, I’ll try to make all the allowances I can for the season and the limited supply, and buy whatever I feel I can’t live without at Kroger.

BUT for the month of August, I am going off the deep end and plan on eating nothing but what I can get locally (except bananas, I must have bananas and I already have dates, so I’ll eat them too).

-I can use whatever I have in my freezer that is local (none of the pineapple) plus whatever pantry items/condiments I already have (no stocking up at the grocery store ahead of time).

-I’ll use raw goat or cows milk that I can get locally for granola and baking, ditto for butter, cream, and cheese (though we don’t use cheese of any variety generally speaking).

-I’ll make my own tomato sauce and pasta.

-Flour and Oatmeal and Beans I’ll buy at the store, but I’ll only use dried beans, no cans.

-I won’t have any sugar and use honey and maple syrup (both which are produced locally) for sweetening.

-I think I will probably buy oil, if necessary, though I think the oil I have now will last me another month or so, since I don’t use much.

Remind me of anything I might be forgetting, and let me know if you want to join me for August!

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4 thoughts on “Local Food Challenge

  1. You will need eggs for your pasta. They should be easily sourced locally. If you can find a u-pick it might be worth the drive to stock up. It is a fun family activity and you get yummy food. Also, kale and lettuce are easy to grow- you might want to give it a try.

    • I make plain pasta, without eggs mostly, but I can get eggs from a farmer friend. I do grow kale and lettuce, just not enough to satisfy all that I eat. I have a tiny lot, and battle daily with the hoards of cats my neighbors feed. It’s hard to get seedlings to come up with them walking all over it. And hard to keep them out. I forgot to mention that I have a fairly large garden I’ll be pulling produce from in August as well. I’ll do a garden post tomorrow.

  2. Oh, yeah, thanks for the reminder, Cheryl! Today was my first day bartering at the farmer’s market. It’s not something they normally do, but none of the vendors sells kale, so they want my kale. (I only pedal it at one booth.) So I came home today with pounds of basically free stuff. Oh glorious day! Let’s just hope my kale cooperates this season and produces. Or, rather, over-produces… so that I can eat it and trade it. I have six plants, but two are just babies, so I hope it’s enough.

  3. You’ll just need to move up to Canada (Ottawa to be exact) 😉 I was just at my local farmer’s market and thinking of doing just that for the rest of the summer. All we had for the most part is lettuce and kale in all sorts of varieties and all organic from small local farmers…..you’d be in heaven. I was looking for more fruits although there were some new veggies starting to roll in. Unfortunately I was really slow with our planting this year and the garden is just a horrible disaster; but I’ll just blame it on the fact that I have a daughter that just turned 1 and a really helpful 3 yr old son. If only he’d remember not walk all over all of the seedlings he could have had it all planted for us in time. We’ll still get produce just most likely in October!

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