Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eating local

I've been trying to eat local. Around Christmas I saw this article on the BBC and a family in Scotland took the eat local challenge for a month or so. Everything they ate had to be raised within 100 miles of their house.
So right off the bat there are sacrifices involved. So no Chilean strawberries or Australian lamb. It means eating what's in season as well.
But honestly it's not that unusual. Just in the last 50 years or so we've gone global with our food.

The first and easiest way to eat local is plant a vegetable garden. So go get spinach, beets, lettuce, tomatos, peppers, meclun greens, onions, cucumbers, potatos, radish and eggplant seeds. Or plants. Find a sunny spot and let nature do the work. If it's too cold to plant outside, container garden until spring. As you all know I did that. :)

Secondly figure out what your radius is. What do you consider local? 50 miles, 75, 100, or 150? Once you know that you can find local farms and label read in the stores. Remember the closer to you the fresher it is and the less you are paying for fuel costs. This is a good site to check out for local stuff. It doesn't have everything, but it's a good start.

Third, go to farmer's markets. Now it seems every town and city has one. Find out what days they are and start shopping. They don't just have veggies. Some do breads, pastas, jams and cheese. Try the goat cheese and the pepper jelly. These people are trying to get you to buy their stuff so samples are involved.( That's how I found this great Massachusetts goat cheese place. The Shepherd's Gate) You can find local farmer's markets by checking your state government websites. Or the USDA.

Fourth, label read. Check the labels on the products you buy. If you already read it for nutrition info, good for you! Now check to see where it's packaged and made. If it's outside of your comfort zone put it back. Find one closer to home. Betcha one closer to home is independent and cheaper.
If the chain store doesn't have something semi-close, try the local delis, and gourmet stores. Independent groceries and health food markets have good local stuff.
Think of it as eating European. After all it is how the Europeans shop and eat. Local, fresh and everyday. And the French and Italians are the best cooks in the world.

I'm not saying you have to give up your imported coffee. Or your fancy balsamic vinegar for your salad dressing. After all there's not a chance in hell I am giving up my Indian and Ceylon teas. But I buy local milk and eggs. I've rediscovered Hummel Brothers ham. I found this great local honey in the local farmstore. Balance your imported olive oil with home grown vegetables.

Another thing is go to your local pick your own farms. They usually have fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and sometimes meats. This is where I like to go, as it's tradition in my family.
I spent so much time there this year that they gave me an employee discount once! I made so much applesauce and froze so many blueberries I need another freezer. Besides spending 4.99 a pint for blueberries in Jan. is a waste when I got them from the bush for .99 a pound in July. Same with apples. I spent $40 for 40lbs of apples. Try that at the Stop and Shop. But now I have local fresh frozen blueberries in Nov. And homemade applesauce until summer. Trust me, I made that much. And it's sooooo good. Only apples, cinnamon and water. Okay, I also use nutmeg. But that's it.

Find an Italian/French/Polish/Irish bakery and get bread and rolls and whatever from there instead of the bakery section of the supermarket. Find a neighborhood butcher(remember those?) and get your meat there. They will even cut it to request for you.

You are doing your part to save Main Street in these troubled economic times and saving the earth. Cause we only got one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More saving the world. And money

Ever think to yourself SELF! :) How can I save money and reduce my carbon footprint at the same time?
Of course you do. We all are worried about the price of energy and food and gas and clothes and hmm, everything.
And if you haven't been living on another planet, you know this one has issues.

So what do you do? Well, you can insulate your home and install energy star appliances and replace your old windows with new tight fitting ones. Oh right you're trying to save money. Sorry.

Here's a few everyday common sense items you can do. Without breaking the bank.

1) Recycle your bottles, cans and glass. Reducing trash and getting money back!

2) Take shorter showers. Try to shave a minute off your average shower time.

3) Shower in the dark. If your bathroom has a window don't turn the overhead light on.

4) Plant a garden. Yeah, I know it's Nov. So what? You got a window somewhere in your house. Buy a few containers, some potting soil, your favorite vegetable seed and stick it in a sunny spot. Or flowers, or herbs. You are cleaning your air(remember they exhale O2 and take in CO2.) and brightening up the place and you've got fresh herbs, or vegetables.
(I had a friend in college who grew an orange tree in her room. Yes, really. And she got oranges.) Better yet get more than one! Aloe in the bedroom, herbs in the kitchen, Mums in the living room. Just go crazy.

5) Compost (I had to say it) if you have a garden. I mean it's right there. Your grass clippings, leaves, vines from the tomatos, those herbs that didn't work out. Your coffee name it! Free fertilizer for next season.

6) Buy a wooden clothes rack and dry your clothes on that.

7) OR dry your heavy things( jeans, towels, woolen sweaters) in the dryer and everything else on the rack. (I used to use the steam iron for some things and toss them on the clothes rack when I ran low on quarters.)

8) Use cold or warm water when washing clothes.

9) Buy a crock-pot. Plug it in and toss in your favorite stuff. Voila a meal with leftovers and you didn't have to use the oven or stove.

9) Get those reusable bags(or dig out your own) for grocery stuff. Stop and Shop gives you .5 off your order for every reusable bag. Hey, it's something.

10) Change your light bulbs to the new CFL's. And turn out the lights when you leave the room.

11) If you can pick air dry on your dishwasher. Saves energy and shortens the cycle.

12) Do the powerstrip thing for your major appliances. Plug in your printer, computer, TV, stereo, whatever into it and if you aren't using the appliance turn it off. Takes a second for it to turn everything back on.

13) Unplug your cell phone charger and electric toothbrush charger when you aren't using them. Or any little appliance.

14) Be aware of your plastic consumption. Bags and wrappers from the grocery store, bottles and tubes in the bathroom. It's a lot. Reuse some. Save some oil!

15) Turn down the heat when you're not there. Yes, it's easy. Saves energy and money.

So even if you only do a few of these you add some pennies or dimes to your wallet and treading more lightly on the earth.

One Earth

Yes, it's true. We only have one planet in this solar system that's fit for life. And if you can't recycle damnit you need to leave!
Go screw up some other planet. I hear Venus has lots of real estate going cheap.

I have become more conscious about garbage and recycling in the past few months. Really since the compost heap thing. I can't believe the amount of trash I have since I started using it. I put out my trash can( I only have one) once a month. Honest.
So in the compost heap it's food items, like tea leaves, eggshells, veggie peelings like from carrots and eggplants, apple cores, and moldy bread. Also there's dead plants from the garden, grass clippings, mulch from last year, leaves, a few rocks and some twigs. You can compost anything but meat and bones(animals like that.) Although the birds liked the old rolls.
I recycle my cans and bottles, although I cut back on my soda consumption and am buying local soda. Polar Ginger Ale, yum. I recycle most of my paper/mail. It's amazing how these little things cut back on what you toss.
It's really just a slight variation in your routines and you are creating soil, reducing energy consumption, and supporting local business.
Try it. Eat local and compost.
It does wonders for your (planet's) health.