While I do try to think locally when I shop for food, clothing, and entertainment, factors like price, convenience, and quality always rear their heads as I approach the cash register. I sometimes feel guilt when I buy strawberries from California in the winter, or when I purchase organic arugula at a local store, instead of hitting up the neighborhood Farmers’ Market. But more often than not, the largest portion of my day-to-day purchases are local and/or sustainably produced goods. I pledged to live like the locavores this month in conjunction with the NOFA-NY Locavore Challenge, and the past two weeks have been full of flavor and fun!
While I’m not officially registered as part of the challenge, I have pinpointed areas in which to flex my locavore muscles this September. Some are easy, some more difficult, but all are rewarding. The best part is that my roommates have joined in on the movement, and together we are all learning and affirming the benefits of a local diet and the richness that lives right out our backdoor!
Here are some highlights from the past two weeks:
Local Brunches and Lunches and Dinners (Oh My)!
I have been trying to make all local meals when I can, and supplementing staple ingredients with local touches. The meals have been hearty and seasonally delicious. We try to stretch our local fare so that we can eat a few meals from one round of cooking – and by incorporating what’s in season, we’re getting (at least) 5 servings of local fruits and veggies per day. Our highlights: ricotta and raspberry scones, red lentil and spinach soup, vegetarian chili, lots of salads, a sweet potato and goat cheese pizza, and weekly tacos Tuesdays and beers + board games nights.
Sitting down together for dinner and packing leftovers allows us to deepen our connection to our food and to each other. We’ve been supplementing the local foods with keeping up-to-date on food and farm news, and sharing the books, documentaries, and blogs that keep us in the know.
Exploring New Markets
Most of the fruits, veggies, cheeses, honey, eggs, milk and meat we buy are purchased directly from the local Farmers’ Markets, Farm Stands, and U-Pick farms in our area. I am often perusing the shelves of the local food co-op, Harvest Co-op, where I can pick up some produce, dry goods in bulk, and my favorite local chips and salsa. By shopping at the co-op as a member, I am putting more money back into the community, and my “food dollar” is supporting local, organic, natural, and sustainable products.
Preserving the Goodness All Year Long
In our kitchen, we’re savoring the last of the summer’s raspberries, sweet corn, cucumbers, peaches, and greens and gearing up for winter squashes, root vegetables, hardy greens, and preserves. Reading up on the science of canning and trying a few of the recipes are great ways to keep summer flavors available all year round. This weekend we’ll be canning more peaches and a trying a new recipe for tomato jam. We’ve already begun to freeze sweet corn for winter chowders, can in-season pears, and dry some apples and peaches. We’re experimenting with making our own ice cream and butter, and will hopefully try our hand at maple syrup and yogurt! And, to supplement our winter meals, we are planning an indoor winter herb garden.
Livin' Large; Livin' Local
This month is not just about food. I have spent the past two weeks learning more about the local neighborhood. Right in my own little neighborhood we have a food co-op, a community orchard, farmers’ markets, great restaurants, and a brewery! I’m lucky to live in a place that is so supportive of the good food movement and makes living HOMEGROWN that much easier. Once a month residents drop into local shops who serve samples of their goods, and showcase local art. Many local restaurants source from farms just outside of my city, and gladly let the local craft brews flow freely from the tap in the neighborhood watering holes. These meals and beers might be a little pricier than the rest, but the flavors, freshness, and creativity are worth it. It’s a great feeling to go out and be able to do good by eating and drinking!
Try one of the many Locavore Challenges in the next two weeks, and in the future! It’s been an easy and fun way to incorporate the products from local farms and businesses into my diet and lifestyle – hope to have some more to share in the next few weeks!