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.

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