Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Eat Local Challange

So way back in August I signed up for an October Eat Local Challenge with http://www.eatlocalchallange.org/. Thankfully Erin decided to join me. Like Erin, I was a little overconfident in how easy this would be. October is also a trying month for me. My work as a gardener means that in October I am almost exclusively digging, tilling, hauling, and planting all day everyday. After 8 hours of all that I know I am usually way too tired to come home and jump into the 2hours of cooking usually required to produce a full scale meal which is what my husband (who also has a labor based job) and I require. A sandwhich, salad,or scrabbled eggs and toast is just not enough for him, or often for me. Working outside all day also means I need portable foods. For the last week my morning time from 5:30 when I get up, until 12:00 when I have lunch consist of a slice of prarie grain bread, with local peach preserves, one apple,and one asian pear. So far this has served me just fine, but for sure when 12:00 rolls around I am ready for a hearty lunch.
So Here is my long lists with all the nitty gritty details for those of you who are thinking of trying such a challange and want something for comparison...
We are following the Eat Local challenge site's recommendation to adhere to the "Marco Polo Rule" which allows exemptions for anything that has been widely traded for centuries. So Under the Marco Polo Rule I have forgiven myself...
1.Olive Oil
4. Cinnamon and some other spices such as salt and pepper, what about buying those processed at the Sauers Factory on Broad St.
5. Coffee
6.Chocolate in great moderation
So now... In addition to the above I have also added some raw basic ingredients that will make many a home made meal possible...
7. Wheat flour ( I know of a couple sources for locally grown wheat, one I would have to purchase in the spring and grind myself, and the other is out of Suffolk). If anyone knows where I can find some let me know please. So for now I am sticking to Employee owned King Arthur Flour and My locally made Prairie Grain Company Breads and I'm sure some other breads and perhaps pasta from the farmers market.
I have reservations about things such as the pasta...where does the vendor get their ingredients, eggs etc. But, for now I am leaving this option open.
8.Some nuts etc, I have already in my fridge (and no I did not run out and buy them last week! )
9. Vinegar
10. Parmesana cheese
11. Fresh Mozzarella ( My mother-in-law has been making this and gifting some to me and I got a lesson in Mozzarella making from her with mixed results, but "local" mozzarella depends upon my local milk source. I have made and frozen several dishes using our homemade motz. in preparation. We'll see.
14. Perhaps a couple onions Since the ones in my garden are the size of large marbles and I haven't seen any at the farmers markets for the last couple of weeks.... I have not had any luck with keeping onions for any period of time. Any suggestions on keeping onions?

So this list seems very long and at this point if you are still reading you are probably thinking "Where exactly does the 'Challenge' come in?"
Well, we'll see I guess.
Like miss Kingsolver said I will not be eating roadside weeds... although some weeds from my own yard will probably make their way into my salads.

So here is a quick list of all the things I have saved and put up in preparation for October and for This winter in general... This is what makes eating local doable and affordable. Having a garden of your own and a great network of friends with their own gardens makes all the difference. If you don't have a garden or a space for one I highly recommend looking into a community garden, or median plot, or as my parents have done.. offering to do all or a large portion of the work in exchange for a chunk of their neighbors yard. The non-gardening neighbor gets free produce and my parents get a place to garden.
Okay, okay, here's my list...
- Garlic -we grew our own and we started with 90 heads of garlic.. the stock pile is dwindling. We do use a lot, but I certainly have enough left to get through the next few months.
- 14 quarts of tomatoes. Most of these came from my own garden as well.
- 1 quart of mixed pickled hot peppers, also from my garden
-Some dried hot peppers from my garden
- 1 quart of pickled sweet peppers
- Various bags of dried basil (sweet, Thai, lime) and other herbs (thyme, marjoram, sage, chives) from my garden
- 1 quart of tomatillos
- 6 quarts of pickles
- Several 1,2 and 3 serving bags of blanched green and wax beans from Pleasant Fields Farm.
- 4 quarts of Tomato, kale and bean soup I made with kale, tomatoes, garlic from my garden and onions and black eyed peas from the farmers market.
- Several servings of Eggplant Lasagna I've made from eggplant from my garden, tomato sauce I made from my tomatoes and Mozzarella from my mother-in-law and from my one lesson in Motz. making. I love this dish, the Eggplant is used IN Place of pasta!
- Many bags of frozen blueberries from my blueberry picking outing early in the summer
- Ditto for strawberries
- A couple bags of peaches
- Too Many tubs of Pesto from basil from my garden, some made with sunflower seeds, others with walnuts.
- also bags of frozen deseeded hot peppers, bags of chopped sweet peppers for chilies etc, a jar of peach 'freezer jam' thanks to my mother in law, a jar of fig preserves thanks to Natalie, a jar of butter pickle chips thanks to my sister-in-law, and hopefully some other stuff I have forgotten.

So eating all local right now is not an option it seems, but what you can't see here are all of the many 'Cheats' I've allowed myself for the last year that are now cut out. It's definitely a work in progress. I still hope to find local peanut butter... (What's up? we Are in Virginia?!), and local pecans...and on and on.

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