Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dark Days week 11


Most of the local eating this week has featured local foods combined with leftovers from family gatherings (making it difficult to stick to the 90% rule, but wasting food seems silly.) Mothers will send home leftovers! I've noticed that some of the people around me have started taking notice of where there food comes from, and I am quite happy with that.

For Christmas eve I roasted a chicken from Speckled Hen Farms (38 miles) and braised some rainbow chard and leeks with butter and apple cider vinegar (all local.) I made stuffing from scratch (locally baked but not ingredient-sourced bread, non-local celery, local butter, stock, and onions) as well as pan gravy, and heated up leftover mashed potatoes from a family gathering.

Other partly-local meals included chicken curry (with the leftover chicken and local onions and carrots, non-local chickpeas and sauce), steak and noodle salad (local frisee, radicchio, shitaake and chives; non-local soba noodles and sauce; leftover steak from mom's house.) I have to say that local eating has made me more creative in the kitchen!

Today we had another brunch of local eggs, bacon, and hash browns with purple potatoes and red onions. The red onions scorched a little, so it wasn't quite the interesting colors I was hoping for.

Monday, December 24, 2007

polycarbonate water bottles in the news

Polycarbonate bottles were in the headlines in Yahoo health news today.

I switched to a Kleen Kanteen a few weeks ago, and I do like it. I noticed a metallic taste in the first or second use but it hasn't returned (and I use it almost every day). I especially like the sturdiness of it - I almost bought a Sigg water bottle, but I didn't think it would hold up to the kind of abuse I'm likely to dish out.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dark Days week 10

Ten weeks already! Hard to believe that it's almost the end of December.

This week I tried my hand at making meatballs. They were "mostly local," containing some parmigiano reggiano cheese and bread from the grocery store bakery. The meat, eggs, and milk (used to soak the bread) were all local. The mixture ended up being way too mushy, but the extra moisture did ensure that the grass-fed beef stayed nice and moist. They were too soft to hold a "ball" shape, so they were promptly dubbed "meatlumps." I served them with locally-made pasta and my homemade spaghetti sauce. I believe that "spaghetti and meatlumps" will become a new family favorite. Hopefully next time they will evolve into actual ball shapes.

Other local meals for the week included brunch of bacon, eggs, and purple potato pancakes. Next time I make them I am using red onions with the purple potatoes, just for more fun color.

Tonight I was eating alone so I had a plate of potato pierogi (locally made, from the church up the street), which I cooked up with local onions and butter. They weren't quite as good as my grandma made, but it's nice to have homemade pierogi again after all these years.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dark Days, Market update, local holidays and caturday!


It's a snowy, snowy day here in central Ohio. I'm glad we made it to the market early; sadly the trip to the tree farm will be postponed until the roads clear up.

I was hoping to find Xmas trees at the North Market; instead I found two of the organic farmers and the honey guy were there! I got some rainbow chard, purple potatoes, eggs, arugula, and a frisee/raddichio blend. I bought a number of small candles from the honey guy, mostly for holiday gifts. Inside the market I couldn't resist some peppered bacon and cottage ham slices, and also the Kentucky Bourbon Eggnog ice cream from Jeni's.

Next we headed to the Worthington Winter Market, just as snow began to fall. There I bought a ton of maple sugar (which is made from boiled down grade B syrup which gets put into a mixer until it crystallizes), grass-fed beef, scallions, sweet potatoes, cider, shitake mushrooms, and baked goods.

Ah yes, the meals! I roasted a pork loin this week, and it was the main protein at both of our local meals. On the first night it was marinated in a non-local pomegranate syrup, and served with chard and leeks, as well as mashed purple potatoes with garlic and leeks. I served it with the unadulterated pan juices, and boy was it good! For the next meal I sliced the remaining pork loin and warmed it with more pomegranate glaze, and served it with green beans with peppered bacon and delicata squash with maple syrup. I think I'm now down to 17 squash. Non-local ingredients for both meals were limited to the pomegranate glaze and a little olive oil, as well as salt and pepper. The green beans tasted just like summer, so I am glad that all the hard work of putting them by has paid off!

On local holidays: holiday gift baskets for my mom and my partner's mom will include locally made apple cider vinegar, maple sugar, honey, walnuts, maple syrup, popcorn, and beeswax candles. I thought about including cheese and grass-fed beef, but I didn't want to deal with the logistics of refrigerating them. Maybe next year! I really wanted to give them a taste of how good local products can be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dark Days challenge: week 8



Two meals this week, to make up for last week's busyness!

On Monday I made a lovely dinner of pan-roasted chicken breasts with gravy, mashed potatoes, delicata squash with butter and honey, and Brussels sprouts with leeks and butter. (Non-local ingredients were seasonings, olive oil, and a little flour and bouillon for the gravy.) I have to say that the Brussel sprouts with leeks were brilliant! The leeks gave them a wonderful sweetness.

Tonight I attempted short ribs, and they were very good. There was a lot of gristle and fat to work through, but I braised them for a couple of hours (in water and red wine with onions, garlic, carrots and celery) and they were amazingly tender. I decided to strip the meat off the bones while waiting for the cooking liquid to cool, and I served the meat shreds with the carrots and gravy (made from the reduced cooking liquid.) Rainbow chard with leeks (another great pairing - the leeks work so well with slightly bitter veggies!) and spaghetti squash completed the meal. Non-local ingredients were a little heavier this meal, and included the seasonings, olive oil, celery, wine, flour for thickening, and brown rice (to serve the beef over - I could have used local noodles but we'd recently had (90% local!)turkey noodle soup.)

Both meals were served with a blackberry wine, local to point of purchase in Morgantown, WV (and left over from Thanksgiving.) I'm also enjoying a pear wine that was local to point of purchase in Beckley, WV. If you are ever driving through West Virginia be sure to stop at Tamarack near Beckley. They had quite an assortment of West Virginia wines and food products (next time I'm buying the ramp wine!)

I am now down to 18 squash. I'll have to cook the giant marina de chioggia pumpkin this week as it is starting to mold in a couple of spots. In the fridge I have a little chard and plenty of leeks and carrots. (And a ton of eggs! I need some egg recipes!) In the cupboard I have some assorted potatoes (I'm rapidly running out of them, which makes me very sad.)

I also have a box of apples in storage (individually wrapped in newspaper; they are indoors right now because of low temperatures), along with my root cellaring project of carrots, turnips and potatoes (they are stored in a cooler full of sand in the garage.) We'll see how that goes!

The High Cost of Bottled Water

Think about all of the bottled water that you see for sale in the stores. Now think about the fact that all of those bottles are manufactured, shipped (using a great deal of fossil fuel), and usually tossed in the trash. About 10% are recycled, but recycling requires a great deal of energy – which usually comes from fossil fuels. Bottles thrown into the trash are either burned (releasing toxic chemicals) or buried (taking up to 1,000 years to degrade.)

So why do we drink so much bottled water? For one thing, it’s pretty darn convenient. People feel that it tastes better and is more pure than tap water, though this is often not the case. Bottled water has fewer regulations and safeguards than tap water. Many brands, including a few big-name best sellers, get their water from municipal sources – that’s right, it’s tap water. And blind taste-tests have shown that people often prefer tap water to the bottled stuff.

So what are our greener options? Treat yourself to a nice, reusable water bottle. (Bottled water bottles are hard to clean and the plastic degrades with repeated use, so reusing them is not recommended.) Plastic sports bottles made of polycarbonate (marked with a #7) are the cheapest option, though polycarbonate has been shown to leach a compound called bisphenol-A (when exposed to hot water and heavy detergents - so avoid washing them in those.) Nalgene is the most well-known brand of polycarbonate bottles. A better choice may be a bottle made of aluminum (the inside is coated to prevent the water from contacting the metal) or stainless steel. Sigg (http://www.mysigg.com/) and Klean Kanteen (http://www.kleankanteen.com/) are reputable brands of metal water bottles. Some larger natural food stores carry metal water bottles.

But what about the taste of tap water? Here in Columbus the tap water reeks of chlorine. A water filter will help remove the taste, as will letting the water to sit for a few hours (this will allow the chlorine to dissipate.) Affordable water filters do create landfill waste, but my carafe water filter can process 40 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced - and that is the equivalent of more than 300 half-liter bottles of water.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

dark days

I missed the recap this week, and since I was incredibly busy I didn't do much in the way of cooking this past week. I did learn how NOT to make curried pumpkin soup: don't experiment with the whole batch; don't toss in too much Thai red curry paste; don't add an apple, thinking that sweet will counteract the hot; and definitely do not add some heavy cream to try to save it. That last step really killed the soup, sadly. If you're going to use Thai curry paste, make sure you have some coconut milk on hand (I think that would have saved the soup.) Ah well, live and learn.

This past week I have been enjoying a new product: maple sugar! I got it from the maple syrup folks (Pleiades Maple Products, Mt. Gilead, Ohio) and I am in love. I'd noticed that putting maple syrup in my oatmeal wasn't working out so well - I had to use a lot of it, and the texture/taste was a little off. The maple sugar works like a dream! I use less of it than I would of brown sugar, and it gives a wonderfully sweet maple flavor. With it I can make a bowl of 100% local oatmeal (with local oats and a grated apple.) It's so good that I could eat it by the spoonful, so thank goodness it came in a shaker bottle (and I've only pried the lid off two or three times! :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

thanksgiving, local eating, and my favorite cat



I have to confess that I totally suck at taking photos of food. I'm reading a few articles to improve my technique, but until I get some portable lights I will spare you my attempts. Instead I will post the occasional cat photos, because my cats are awfully cute. They all wish they could dine locally on the birds, squirrels, and occasional mouse that visit our home. (The cat pictured here is named Little Guy.)

I had an unexpected Thanksgiving day at home last Sunday - a party I was going to was canceled, and I had a 10 lb. turkey to cook. So with no advance prep, and having spend the day before making soup and vegetable stock, I dove into a Thanksgiving dinner for two. Curiously, I had all of the ingredients at hand to create a local turkey dinner with all the fixings (except cranberries) so this is what we ate:
-turkey (a little overcooked, sadly.)
-dressing (made from bread on hand plus local onion, non-local celery and herbs from my garden
-gravy made from pan-drippings
-broccoli (local and fresh)
-praline sweet potatoes (local sweet potatoes and walnuts, non-local brown sugar and an orange)
-mashed potatoes with local milk and butter

The only non-local ingredients not mentioned above were salt, pepper, a little oil for the turkey, flour for the gravy, and a bit of cinnamon.

After cooking I had a 10 minute break, then stripped the turkey (freezing 1/2 the breast and a lot of dark meat) and made stock. When the stock was done I pulled more meat off the bones for a turkey soup. I made the soup with non-local celery and local onions and carrots.

Thanksgiving day we went to my mom's house. She got a local turkey from the butcher and I brought butternut squash and the ingredients for a pear galette, along with a few veggies we forgot to cook. We had to use apples instead of the too-hard pears, but it was a wonderful flaky dessert. (My mom asked about my recipe, which made me laugh. I just make things up as I go along. Fortunately my favorite farmers had made the pie crust dough, saving me a lot of work and the need to actually dig out a recipe.)

Today was the first Saturday that we slept in since May! There may have been a few vendors at the market but my fridge was still full. I defrosted raspberries and bacon for a local brunch (served with pancakes) and for dinner went a little crazy with frozen corn and edamame, fresh braising greens with red onion and apple cider vinegar, grass-fed burgers with Gouda on ciabatta bread, and "almost" potato chips (inspired by another Dark Days blogger; I sliced potatoes thin on my mandoline then cooked them in a 1/2 inch of canola oil.) Non-local ingredients were cooking oil, salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

squash mania

I just did a squash inventory in the garage. I have 21 squash! Seven of those fall into the "huge" category, including three marina de chioggia pumpkins, two French pumpkins, a hubbard and an enormous spaghetti squash.

The squash tally was prompted by plummeting temperatures and my newest root cellaring project (which is to wrap apples in newspaper and store them in a cardboard box.) I'll need to move them from the garage when it gets colder.

At dinner today I got my mom and her twin talking about their mother and her food preservation techniques. I definitely learned a few things. Wish I'd thought to ask my grandma about this when she was still alive.

I will blog about thanksgiving craziness later, when I can get some photos out of the camera. I hope you all had a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

dark days meal of the week

We had a lovely local meal tonight. I was feeling a bit under the weather so I defrosted some pumpkin soup (made with a marina de chioggia pumpkin) and doctored it up with a carrot and plenty of garlic, along with some skim milk and grated Gouda cheese. My pot of herbs is still hanging on, so I was able to add some fresh thyme and chives. Non local ingredients were salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. I served it with a salad (probably the last batch of lettuce for the year) with grated carrot and helios radishes and dressed it with a vinaigrette made from local cider vinegar. Again, salt, pepper, and olive oil were the only non-local ingredients. We did have bread from the grocery store bakery, because driving 15 miles to a bakery for local bread seemed kind of silly.

I had a glass of non-local orange juice tonight, in honor of being sick and needing vitamin C. It was the first I've had since... spring, I think? It was good, but I wish I'd had some local cider instead. Next year I'm going to buy extra cider and experiment with freezing it. Wish I'd thought of that when the cider folks were still coming to market - after all, there's still some room in the freezer!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

farmer's market report and local eating in November

It was quite cold at our one remaining farmer's market (at the North Market) on Saturday, but we braved the cold and got fabulous rewards. I bought a ton of greens (lettuce, braising greens, and tatsoi) because I'll most likely not buy them again until they're available locally in the spring. I also got some eggs, onions, spaghetti squash, another marina de chioggia pumpkin, and a large hubbard squash. I have renamed my garage "the home for wayward squash" since we have so many. We also picked up some pepper bacon and pork chops.

Next week we'll have a special thanksgiving market in Clintonville, and one of the North Market folks assures me that they'll have tons of stuff next Saturday - they've been stockpiling for their thanksgiving CSA, and once the boxes are filled there will be extra veggies to sell (most notable leeks - I plan to get there early and buy them all!) I hope I can find plenty of potatoes next week as well; we eat them so often that my stores are dwindling already.

Local meals for today: lunch was fried pullet eggs, pepper bacon, and hash browns? home fries? Shredded potatoes with onions, whatever you call it. Non-local ingredients were salt and bread for toast. Dinner was pork chops cooked with (all local) apples, onions, and apple cider; braising greens with local bacon, local apple cider, and local apple cider vinegar; scalloped potatoes (with local milk and butter) and spaghetti squash. Non-local ingredients were salt, pepper, and a little cream and flour for the potatoes. I almost pulled some green beans from the freezer, but decided that we could have greens and squash as vegetables this week. I just hate to break into my winter stores when there are still fresh veggies to be had.

The local apple cider vinegar is as good as I hoped. I may buy a gallon next week and bottle it for holiday presents.

This week I plan to roast a pumpkin or two (maybe the rouge vif d'etampes and a marina de chioggia) and make some soup (probably potage bonne femme, if I can find a leek or two in the fridge.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

dark day challenge meal for the week

I finally cooked the pork chops, and they weren't too bad for a first attempt! They marinated in apple cider for a couple of days before I cooked this meal. Then I dredged them in flour (non-local, and I will probably skip this step next time)and seared them in a pan. Then I turned down the heat a little and added sliced onions and apples, and I put the lid on it and let them cook down. At the end I deglazed the pan with apple cider, and it was a lovely dish! I was surprised by how well apples and onions went together.

I served this with thinly-sliced fried potatoes (in my eternal quest to find more ways to cook potatoes) and broccoli with butter. I haven't used any of my frozen veggies yet; it seems like a waste to eat them when broccoli is still available fresh.

Tonight will be simple dinner of pasta (locally made) with my marinara sauce and garlic bread. Here's hoping there's still bread in the freezer!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Saturday market update

I had to make an excited post for today. Despite the fact that we are down to one market, we had a nice haul today. Lots of potatoes, an 18-pound marina de chioggia pumpkin, a squash that I'm betting is an ambercup, tons of broccoli (I think this will become cream of broccoli soup), a 1/2 peck of yellow delicious apples and a gallon of cider (I think it was the apple people's last week), and... a half-gallon of locally made apple cider vinegar! I had been hunting for local vinegar with no luck, and then voila. They also had some homemade tempeh, but I am not a huge fan of processed soy. If they are back again I may try it.

The folks from one farm were saying they'd continue until before Thanksgiving (they have to, they're doing the Thanksgiving CSA!) That gives me another two weeks to keep stocking up on their interesting squash (I get the marina de chioggia from them) and strange turnips and radishes.

Weekend local eating will feature broccoli, potatoes, eggs, ham, apples, greens, and pork chops. I have actually not ever cooked pork chops before, having been a vegetarian for a long time. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2007

local eating in the autumn

Last Saturday was the final week of a few of our markets, so it was a sad day indeed. The North Market farmer's market will hang on for a while (apparently it lasts until the farmers quit coming) and there will be a couple of special pre-Thanksgiving markets as well. We opted not to get a thanksgiving CSA as I didn't have a spare $150 sitting around.

We got a lot of stuff at the markets, as you might expect. Sunflower heads, French pumpkins (rouge vif d'etampes and musque de provence), raspberries (gotta love the late fall raspberries!), walnuts, short ribs (I've never cooked ribs before. This should be interesting), fresh Lima and white kidney beans, shallots (finally!), quince, pears, onions, chard, potatoes, carrots, broccoli... I think we bought 2 of everything. I gave the fridge a thorough rearranging and discovered that we're going to be eating a lot of carrots. (I somehow ended up with a crisper drawer full of them!)

I always cook a special meal for Halloween, focusing on favorite foods of my deceased relatives. This year I roasted a beautiful pasture-raised chicken and served it with honey ginger carrots, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and carnivale squash. The stuffing and seasonings were not local, but everything else was. Tomorrow I plan to turn the chicken into a stew with local carrots, onions, and potatoes.

Other local meals include my favorite weekday breakfast of local oatmeal, grated apple (a grimes golden this time, my grandfather's favorite), and maple syrup; also a lovely potato-leek soup with bacon. The local bacon we get is covered with peppercorns and gives an amazing smokey flavor to everything it touches.

It will be so sad to get up in the morning and only head to the one remaining market! I hope to use this weekend to stock up on more squash (kabocha, mainly) and hopefully find some late broccoli. I'm suddenly craving cream of broccoli soup, and it dawns on me that I've never made it! I don't think I have quite enough of it in the freezer to experiment.

One of the farmers last weekend had a sign up: Only 6 months until asparagus! It seems like forever, but I have a freezer full of summer vegetables, a garage full of winter squash, and stockpiles of soups and jam. I think we'll make it through the winter just fine (but I'll still dream of fresh asparagus in the spring!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

dark days challenge update

It's been a good week for eating locally. Over the weekend we had french toast and bacon in another permutation of local sunday brunch. We've had fresh pasta (from the North Market)with my homemade marinara sauce twice this week, with marinara sauce to spare. Both meals were accompanied by amish wheat bread with local garlic and butter.

Early in the week we had roasted chicken breasts and gravy with broccoli and mashed potatoes (only non-local ingredients were the stock and flour for the gravy.) The leftovers/scraps were reincarnated into chicken and noodles (amish noodles with carrots, onion, celery (non-local), chicken scraps and gravy.) Last night we had even more broccoli (it is so good, but the little green worms freak me out a little) with cottage ham, scalloped potatoes, and spaghetti squash. I cooked the ham in local apple cider and had local butter on everything else.

I also cooked many butternut squash into soup, and then determined that I do not, in fact, even like butternut squash. It is just too sweet for me. I left the soup very plain (just onion, garlic, and veggie stock) and froze it; I plan to season each batch differently, in hopes of finding a combination I like.

For this weekend I must have a few potluck dishes, which I think will include a salad with roasted beets, goat cheese (not local), and walnuts, as well as something involving squash, or maybe butternut squash soup. :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

local food shopping in the fall

Yesterday was market day, and as it was the 20th of October, I think we can all agree that it is autumn. The weather is still unseasonably warm, though there have been some cold nights (no frost yet.) Three of my farmer's markets are ending this week (one more will continue until the vendors run out of produce; two other markets will have winter and/or a thanksgiving market day option.)

I went a little crazy at the market this week. It started out innocently enough - late strawberries, late red and golden raspberries, some bacon and cottage ham. The weekly split chicken breast. Four servings of locally-made fresh pasta. Some pumpkin ice cream. The the "getting carried away" part began.

I bought end-of-the-season roma tomatoes (ugly, but they made a wonderful pasta sauce for dinner tonight. It was wonderful! There's enough left to have our favorite local pasta meal for dinner again (local greens with helios radishes; marinara sauce over angel hair pasta; Amish-made wheat bread liberally doused with local butter and garlic.) I did unbend enough to use imported Parmesan (we've eaten all our pasta this summer with shredded local Gouda, which is surprisingly good.)

Oh yes, the marketing. Braising greens, salad greens, leeks, and lovely little heirloom turnips. Chestnuts for roasting. The largest carrots I've ever seen. Broccoli, eggplant, apple cider, green beans. And that's just the first market!

On to the next two markets! I procured 5 butternut squash, a pumpkin and 3 acorn squash (it was the farmer's last day, so I helped buy out her remaining produce.) Two pasture-raised chickens (also the farmer's last day at market; I have four of her birds in the freezer now.) A pound of grass-fed beef. Some lovely red-skinned potatoes with the whitest flesh you can imagine. A giant sunflower head (we may eat the seeds ourselves instead of feeding them to the squirrels.) Pullet eggs! I didn't really need eggs, but I have a weakness for pullet eggs. (They are the first layings of young hens. Very small, very pale yellow yolks, and a wonderful taste.) I also bought the aforementioned Amish-made wheat bread, and a bunch of peppers for the local food bank/community center (they were doing a produce drive at the market.) I also stopped for some local milk.

It will be a busy week in the kitchen - tonight I am blanching and freezing broccoli. Tomorrow I need to make yoghurt and a soup or two; I have ingredients for vegetable soup, potage bonne femme (a leek and potato soup with carrot) and hot-and-sour soup. The latter is the only non-local one, but it will still use local shiitake and scallions. Later in the week I need to parcook all of the butternut for soup and freezing. I should probably blanch and freeze some acorn squash too. And some onion/carrot mixtures for soup and stews. Whew! At least I know that wintertime local meals will be a snap!

Monday, October 15, 2007

local eating, week of October 15

Yesterday we enjoyed our favorite local brunch: pancakes (mix from Quiver Full Family Farm, ~20 miles, some non-local ingredients) with raspberries (Toad Hill Organics, ~70 miles) and peppered bacon (Blues Creek, ~32 miles). Butter and milk from Hartzler's Dairy (96.2 miles) and maple syrup from Pleiades (37.9 miles.)

Tonight's dinner is ham steak from Curly Tail (~45 miles), green lance from Wayward Seed (97.7 miles), potatoes from Flying J (26 miles) and squash from Bird's Haven (29.5 miles). Non-local ingredients: salt, pepper, brown sugar.

Come to think of it, lunch is local too: peppered bacon from Blues Creek, eggs from Quiver Full, and bread from Crumbs (~84 miles.) I'd better eat an apple (Wayward seed) to make that meal a little healthier. :-)

I should really just make a master list of all my local food sources. I'll try to put that together soon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

a winter eat local challenge



(I am failing to get the above button to work, so please follow the link below.)

I really meant to get back to some non-food content now that September has ended, but I just discovered the Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge. The goal is to have one meal a week that is at least 90% local throughout the whole winter. And blog about it, of course. It should be fun!

My freezer is stocked with corn, green beans, peaches and strawberries. There are smaller amounts of edamame, raspberries, stock, tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce. I have local pancake mix, soft wheat flour, oatmeal and corn meal. We are slowly stocking up on burgers, ground beef, and chicken. My stores of frozen soup are growing. I have plenty of honey but I could use some more maple syrup. I need to do a few experiments with root cellar-less root cellaring (I'm going to try coolers filled with sand) so I can try to keep potatoes and carrots (and turnips and beets and whatnot.) I could use a few more hard-skinned winter squashes.

I can't wait to see what the winter market brings! It's the first year for it, and this Columbus locavore is mighty excited.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

wrapping up the challenge

Today is the last day of September, and hence the last day of the September Eat Local challenge. The most interesting part of the challenge has been the realization that it is almost a moot point - we eat so much local food anyway! We didn't eat out (except for a couple of low-blood sugar related meals, when we had pizza from a local joint, or some sushi) and I didn't shop at any major chain stores. I'd say that 95-99% of our food came from farmer's markets; we did get bacon and Italian sausage from a local butcher (who has their own farm nearby) and local milk from either our co-op (we joined this month) or a local health food store. Rolls for burgers came from a local Italian specialty store. Bread came from local bakeries or bakers. Ice cream came from the magnificent local ice creamiere Jeni's (who uses some local ingredients.) We wasted very little food and composted kitchen scraps.

I learned how to make new things from scratch, such as grape juice and polenta. I approximated favorite processed foods (chicken and noodles and sloppy joe's) from local ingredients. I tried new fruits and vegetables, found local sources for many things that I will continue to use, and didn't miss much.

What have I actually missed? The convenience of opening a can of beans for dinner. Lemons. Rice. Indian food. Pizza. Burritos. Dry pasta (I've bought it freshly-made from a local Italian place.) Readily-available celery - I've had to hunt for it, and only found it twice. Spicy crab salad. The convenience of not starting each meal long before dinner time, or of being able to say screw it and get carry-out (I only missed this once or twice.)

I started shopping and eating locally this spring, and watching the seasons change in the markets and on my plate has been a wonderful ride. I will reminisce about the summer every time I defrost veggies or fruits for winter meals (I lament the fact that we didn't get a new freezer until well after asparagus season.) I am saddened by the fact that the season is drawing to a close (what will I do on Saturday mornings?!?!) and look forward to seeing some of my local farmers at the new winter market. And I definitely look forward to spring!

This weekend we have eaten the following: pasta in cream sauce with shiitake mushrooms and fresh herbs, with spiced pears in cream sauce for dessert (Friday); sloppy joe's, home fries and corn on the cob (Saturday's one big meal); raspberry pancakes with peppered bacon (Sunday brunch.) My end-of-the-month dinner, which I will begin preparing shortly, will feature pan-roasted chicken breasts with herbs and pan gravy, broccoli, mashed potatoes, and roasted squash (either delicata or kabocha.) Dessert will be an apple crisp (I'm going to try using honey as a sweetener so it will be all local, except for the cinnamon.)

I've had homemade yoghurt with berries, honey and locally-made granola most mornings. My yoghurt is still terrible, but I'm not giving up on it yet. On cooler mornings I've grated an apple into a cooking pot of oatmeal (now local, yay!) and drizzled it with maple syrup. Lunch has been leftovers or eggs or fried eggplant or zucchini, breaded with local wheat flour. Dinners have alternated between omnivore and vegetarian, and I cooked red meat and chicken about once a week each. I don't see any of this changing any time soon.

So while I'll be hitting my favorite Indian buffet for dinner tomorrow, and occasionally picking up bread or milk at Giant Eagle, I don't see the bulk of our eating habits changing. I imagine that I will purchase my first non-local head of celery or bag of frozen veggies with anguish in my heart.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall feasting, and a recipe

It was a lovely market day today, and I came home with a number of fall favorites (as well as a few summer holdouts):

-apples (honeycrisp, empire, and golden something - not delicious)
-pears (bosc, I think)
-apple cider!
-fennel (I haven't tried this before, but I'm looking forward to it)
-leeks and yukon gold potatoes
-blackberries (only one box at market today!) and raspberries
-squash: acorn and kabocha
-spinach, lettuce, and heirloom cherry tomatoes (sungold and yellow pear)
-nectarines (they'd been in cold storage)
-turnips, broccoli, carrots, eggplant
-shiitake mushrooms and arugula microgreens
-fresh pasta and mozzarella
-amish--made egg noodles
-grass-fed ground beef
-whole chicken

You can see that some pasta and leek and potato soup are in my future. I'm sad that I can't find local cream - I may just use some local whole milk. The tomato plants are doing their thing so I will be making some fresh sauce this week. I'd like to do a pasta with cream sauce, mushrooms, and fennel as well.

Today's cooking endeavor included grass-fed burgers with gouda, peppered bacon, and arugula microgreens for lunch, and a new squash dish for a potluck. I'll attempt to recreate it below. It's my first attempt to write out a recipe.

Mashed squash and apples
2 acorn squash
2 crisp apples
maple syrup
cinnamon
butter
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Save at least 2 - 3 tablespoons of seeds for roasting. Place squash cut side down in a pan with a half inch of water and bake until the squash rind is easily pierced with a fork (for halves squash this may take about an hour; you can shorten the cooking time by cutting the squash in quarters.) Leave oven on.

While the squash is cooling, spread the cleaned seeds on a salted pan and toast briefly, stirring once when the seeds begin to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Peel, core, and slice apples, then toss with a small amount of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I like to microwave them for 1-2 minutes, but this isn't completely necessary.

Allow the squash to cool slightly, then hold the squash with a pot holder and scrape the flesh into a shallow oven-proof casserole or dish with a spoon. Mash the squash with a fork, potato masher, or immersion blender. Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of butter and salt to taste. Drizzle maple syrup and sprinkle cinnamon over squash and stir well, to taste. Place apple slices around edge of pan and over the top of the squash. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Return dish to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove dish from oven and sprinkle with toasted squash seeds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Autumn is definitely here!

My trip to the small mid-week market confirmed it: autumn is here. It may be pushing 90 degrees F today, but the market was full of pumpkins! It's always a sign when the watermelons are replaced by pumpkins. I saw some indian corn as well, along with a few melon holdouts.

I purchased a few small zucchini (mainly for a freezing experiment), garlic, a tiny muskmelon, lots of basil (for pesto), potatoes (white, red, purple, and sweet), a stalk of brussel sprouts (I want to carry it around like a sceptre!) and a number of winter squashes. I almost bought a hubbard squash, but I think I'll need a hatchet to get through the skin. Apparently they keep very well, so I should probably invest in a few for storage.

I also purchased some grass-fed beef patties, maple syrup, maple granola, and a loaf of bread. I managed to avoid all of the pastries and the caramel apples.

I spent a long weekend in North Carolina, hence my lack of posts. I kept it local on the way there (packed a sandwich, apples, and edamame), found a place with local eggs for breakfast, and stopped for lunch at Tamarack on the way back (I also picked up some pear wines, local to point of purchase.) I was on a meal plan at the event in NC, so I ate whatever was put in front of me.

Last night's dinner was kind of lame but local: blue potatoes (done homefry-style with local red onions and paprika) and french-cut green beans, served with cooked honeycrisp apples with maple syrup. I may concoct some chicken stew tonight (still have some local celery and a carrot). I wonder how those leftover blue potatoes would look in chicken stew?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

sunday local eating report

Today was a light day by preservation standards, but I'm still tired!

Breakfast and brunch were resoundingly familiar (see last Sunday) but today's pancakes were made with local raspberries and nectarines. Nectarines in Ohio, who knew? They are from last week and still tasty. We had local peppered bacon this week, which was lovely. I bought a whole pound, so I should probably freeze some lest I eat it all.

After making brunch, I prepared the two chickens for roasting (chunks of onion in the cavities along with some herbs from the garden, the latter were also shoved under the skin) and into the oven they went. I should roast two together more often; the cooking time doesn't really increase, it only heated the kitchen up once, and it gave me more bones for stock. After they rested a bit I took as much meat off as I could and put the bones (and herbs and onions) to cook into stock. I also made salsa to snack on before dinner (the tortilla chips were purchased from before the challenge, but were from a local company at least) with tomatoes and jalape├▒os from the garden.

I put the bulk of my 10 pounds of canning tomatoes in the freezer. I just don't have the time for major sauce production this week, and it will be nice to have tomatoes for soup and stews this winter. They are easy to freeze - no need to blanch and peel, just freeze them whole on baking sheets then bag up (or use your handy foodsaver.) I also froze a pint of blackberries and some assorted raspberries, and the shreds of dark meat chicken.

Dinner was a glass of local white wine, roasted chicken breasts with gravy (made from drippings), mashed potatoes and french-cut green and yellow beans. The bean frencher isn't the most effective tool, but by running them through twice I had a lovely julienne thing going. It was a very nice change of texture. I had to vamp up my gravy with some powdered boullion because the stock wasn't cooked down yet, but it made it edible (and so good that we were nearly licking our plates.)

I'll have the rest of my plum/peach cobbler as dessert and call it a day. Well, after I cool the stock so I can pull the fat off the top and freeze it; cooking your soup/stew veggies in chicken fat is a good way to make a very local dish, and is darn good eats!

As a side note, I need to find some herb seeds. The cilantro went to seed and died, and the catnip plant just plain died (much to my cats' chagrin.) I tried replanting the cilantro seeds but nothing has sprouted.

Meals for this week will include burgers (grass-fed local beef) with corn and green beans; pasta with veggies (I'll make fresh sauce from the canning tomatoes that were blemished) and leftover chicken. I still have leftovers from last week for easy lunches: fried eggplant (breaded with local wheat flour!), sweet potatoes, and the first acorn squash of the season (cooked with local maple syrup.)

One of these days I will take pictures of the food before we eat it all!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

market day!

Another successful market day! Saturday is the biggest market day in Columbus; in fact, we go to three markets in a row which are conveniently all located on or near High Street.

At the North Market we met up with friends and had some coffee and ice cream (both from local companies) with our shopping. Here's the haul:

Fruit CSA share: small watermelon, 4 apples (2 honeycrisp, 2 cortland?), ground cherries (like little tomatillos, and totally new to us.)

Other North Market buys:
-italian sausage and peppered bacon $7.41
-rocket microgreens $3
-locally milled pancake mix $4.50
-raspberries $4.50
-blackberries (it's the end of the season, *sigh*) $4.50 each I think
-goat cheese (I think they are slightly out of my 100-mile radius, but it's still Ohio) $6.95 and worth every penny
-fresh angel hair pasta
-rosemary and cilantro $1 each
-mango ice cream to take home, and frosttop (local root beer company) and sweet corn with blackberry sauce to eat there. Jeni's Ice Cream is beyond fabulous!

Clintonville market:
Not a thing! 2silos wasn't there, so no eggs. Sippel was out of the amazing sun gold tomatoes (everyone was talking about how good they were, so no surprise there.)

Worthington:
-2 fresh pasture-raised chickens ($15.50 for the pair, which wasn't too bad a price. They are small, though.) No eggs, she had sold out. :-(
-6 pound bag of red ruby popcorn $6
-mixed beans (kidney, lima, green) $4.50
-edamame ($2 this week! I got 2)
-10 pounds of canning tomatoes $5
-green and yellow beans $2.25
-honeycrisp apples $4
-2 ears of corn $1

I've included the prices to help me keep track, and to let you know what prices are current here in central Ohio.

My plans for the next few days include roasting both chickens and making a huge pot of stock with the remainders, making pasta sauce, and steaming edamame. I will be traveling to North Carolina on the 13th, so I need to prep some snack foods and a lunch to keep me local (at least from where I started!)

Friday, September 7, 2007

humanely-raised food

I thought I'd talk a little bit about what I'm eating these days, with regard to meat and eggs.

Eggs and chicken - I buy local, pasture-raised eggs and chicken. Anyone who has read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan knows that "free range" doesn't mean diddly-squat in the world of food production. Birds can still be crammed into pens, only these pens have a little door leading to a very small yard. The door stays shut for the first two weeks while the birds learn their surroundings. After this time it is opened, but the chickens have already set their world boundaries in their brains - so they never go outside.

I buy eggs from farmers who pasture-raise them. The chickens get to run around outside, eating bugs (so they are not "vegetarian-fed" but they are certainly not fed chicken parts in their food!) and doing chicken things. Chickens are big fans of this. Trust me, egg production was one of my 4-H projects as a kid. I cleaned chicken (and duck and goose and turkey) coops for 7 years. Chickens aren't brilliant, but they can still experience enjoyment (as well as suffering.)

I don't buy meat at the grocery store anymore. I do not want to support factory farming, and I don't trust the labeling for free-range meats. Our meat is more expensive now, but we eat less of it - and I work hard to utilize every scrap and bone.

Beef - I buy grass-fed beef and only grass-fed beef (from local farmers of course.) While feeding cows grain will produce a nice marbling of the meat, it is at a terrible cost. Cows are meant to eat grass. Corn (thanks to the crazy-huge corn surpluses in the US, cows get fed corn) causes all sorts of health problems for cows, from bloat and gastritis and all the way to liver failure (they are usually slaughtered just as their livers fail.) Why do you think cows are fed so many antibiotics? It's because they are crammed together in feedlots, knee-deep in shit, eating acidic grains that destroy their stomach lining and liver. E coli loves shit and an acid environment, so CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations) are pretty much perfectly designed for that. And you know the whole mad cow scare? Do you know how cows get it? From eating the diseased tissue of other cows. There is now legislation that makes it illegal to feed the brains and spinal cords of cows to livestock. But everything else is okay, legally. What kind of twisted and, excuse me, fucked up world do we live in, when feeding animal parts back to animals is a common animal husbandry practice? If people deem this as acceptable, then the world of soylent green can't be far away.

I buy my beef from Ed and Nancy of Long Meadows grass beef or Dick from Flying J Farm. I like to be able to shake the hands of the people who raise my meat, and know that they care for, and about their animals.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Why I shop at farmer's markets

I went to the local farmer's market today, and I spent 8 dollars on the following: a baker's dozen of sweet corn ($4), 2 cucumbers (50 cents each), 3 sweet potatoes and a small red onion ($2.89 for them all.)

Could I have gotten these items cheaper at a grocery store? I could have paid less for corn, that's for certain. As for the other items, it seems like I paid quite a low price. I'm not sure if a grocery store could beat that. But you know what? I don't care if they could. I shop at farmer's markets, and I am willing to pay more than the grocery store. I'm fortunate that I can afford not to worry about my food budget down to the penny. But even when I pay slightly more at a farmer's market, I still come out ahead.

For one thing, the produce is much fresher - and it tastes better! My corn was picked around 11 AM today, and the sweet potatoes were dug this morning. Fresh produce lasts longer! This means that when I've forgotten a lone zucchini in the depths of my refrigerator's produce drawer, the chance that it will still be good when unearthed is much greater than a grocery store buy. My vegetables were picked ripe, not shipped across the country - or international borders - while "green." They usually come to market in the back of a pickup truck. Shopping at farmer's markets keeps the money in the community, and supports local businesses. In this day of mega-conglomerates, the "little guys" need all the support they can get.

Also, I know where my food is coming from, and I am learning the farming cycles of my area. I've met the farmers, heard about their trials and tribulations, and rejoiced as each new type of produce ripens and comes to market. I look forward to seeing them every week. I know when my produce has been picked, I know when the chickens were butchered, when the eggs were laid, and I know what produce the neighbor has sent along to sell. Small farmers are more likely to raise multiple types of produce, practice crop rotation, and use sustainable farming practices. Their products often use less packaging than grocery store produce.

Farming is a very difficult profession, and farmers don't make vast piles of cash. They usually run in the red, and many of them can barely stay afloat. I am happy, no, overjoyed to give my food dollars to my local farmers. Driving through the country the other day, I saw a number of farms selling their land for commercial use. If spending money at farm markets can help any farmer stay in business, keep the land planted (preferably organically), and give me fresher, healthier food as well - well, it's certainly worth the price.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

eat local challenge - culinary update

Today has been mildly busy. I turned the sliced tomatoes into spaghetti sauce (note: do not attempt to puree them *before* cooking, it makes it kind of wonky) and received a present of an immersion blender right after I finished. So it looks like there will be more tomatoes in my future, now that I have a new toy. I also got a bean frencher and a french rolling pin. Let the good times roll.

Next I managed to turn a chicken breastbone into stock (with the help of other veggie scraps) which will become chicken soup very soon.

Then I made my second attempt at yogurt. It should be ready between 8 and 10 PM - I used a mixture of 2% and skim milk, so it's anybody's guess how long it will take. I have hung the grainy yogurt in cheesecloth in an attempt to make labneh (yogurt cheese.) It probably won't help the texture, but it was worth a try.

Lunch was a leftover pancake and a hard-boiled egg (made from these directions by The Foodist.) The egg was quite perfect, and the yoke remained beautifully yellow.

For dinner I made creamy polenta with Gouda from scratch (and in doing so learned how NOT to make polenta - add the cornmeal carefully or you will face indelible lumps) and Italian sausage with grapes. For a side dish I steamed pole beans and tossed them with shallots and butter. I've noticed that the more tired I get of a vegetable, the more butter I add. The shallots were a nice touch though.

The only non-local ingredients were seasonings.

I must confess that I am terrible about using recipes. I tend to look at them as guidelines, and often don't read the ingredients or the directions thoroughly before starting. I will also cook from two recipes at once, merging them as I go. So while I could attempt to record my cooking process, it would be less than informative for the average person. I imagine that I cook the same way my grandmother did, but she was much better at it (and made less mistakes.) The school of "learned it the hard way" is an excellent teacher in the kitchen. Just remember to keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Monday, September 3, 2007

September challenge progress report

The September Eat Local Challenge is off to a good start. There was a brief moment of weakness involving a pizza (from a local pizza place at least!) as I learned to not let my blood sugar crash, no matter how many tomatoes need blanching.

The challenge this year has an emphasis on preserving the bounty of September, and I have been working on this for the last month or so. The purchase of a chest freezer (manual defrost and energy star) and a Foodsaver vacuum sealer have been a big help. So far I have frozen a good 5 dozen ears of corn (cut off the cob, which is easier than it sounds), 5 or 6 pounds of green beans, 6 quarts of strawberries, 3 quarts of peaches, 1 quart of raspberries, 1.5 quarts of vegetable stock, 2 pints of sweet corn stock, and 5 pints of pasta sauce. Also freezer jam: peach, mixed berry, and strawberry. The most onerous task was the blanching, peeling, chopping and seeding of the 15 pounds of tomatoes. I love the resulting sauce, but the labor is extreme. It would be a great (read:easier) two-person job though.

You can easily freeze vegetables without a vacuum sealer - just use ziplock baggies, and smoosh as much of the air out as you can. There are really great directions for freezing, canning, and otherwise using fresh vegetables and fruits at PickYourOwn.org. The site has been a great help!

There are some good books out there for preserving food (by freezing, canning, and other methods.) These are a few I have picked up:

Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow (by Rodale Food Center)

Putting Food By (by Janet Greene)

Stocking Up (by Carol Hupping)

Meals have been good, and I am learning new things. I have learned what not to do when making yogurt: over-incubating makes it separate, and not mixing it well enough makes it grainy (at least, according to some on-line troubleshooting guides.) My milk is non-homogenized from Hartzler Family Dairy. They don't make cream, which has foiled a number of meal plans. I may try skimming the milk to get the milk fat (being non-homogenized, the fat floats to the top.) It might work, and whole milk tastes like cream to me anyway (I have acclimated to skim.)

My kitchen currently sports the following, all local:

dairy/eggs: milk (skim and 2%), butter, gouda, eggs
fruits: plums, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, muskmelon, casaba, honeycrisp apples, grapes
vegetables: zucchini, pole beans, swiss chard, celery, carrots (from the farmer's market, but of possible dubious local origin), Italian eggplant, heirloom tomatoes
legumes: edamame, pinto beans
root vegetables: blue, red, and new potatoes, sweet potatoes
other: garlic, white onions, sweet onions
meat: Italian sausage, grass-fed beef, chicken scraps
herbs: my garden is sporting thyme, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, basil, chives
other: maple syrup, honey, soft wheat flour, cornmeal

I also have some local bread (imported wheat - hard wheat doesn't grow well around here) and pasta; locally-made ice cream, and locally grown red popcorn. I also have locally made maple granola (all ingredients are not local, but I can't face life without oatmeal.)

My biggest non-local ingredients have been: tea, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. I have a jar of jam from http://www.welovejam.com/ that I will continue to eat; it cost a lot, might spoil, and falls into the "terroir" category as defined by the Locavores. (Terroir was originally a wine/coffee term, referring to the special properties that the earth in a certain place bestowed on the items grown there.)

So that's my latest. I'll update more about what we are actually eating; below I will list a few of our recent meals:

Brunch: pancakes (locally grown and milled flour and produced mix) with peaches, raspberries, and maple syrup. Plus bacon. All local, though some of the pancake mix ingredients are probably not local.)

Brunch: bacon, eggs, home fries. 100% local (except for salt and pepper)

Dinner: chicken breast with herbs, heirloom potatoes with garlic and chives, brussel sprouts. Non-local ingredients were olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Breakfast: homemade yogurt (local milk, non-local starter), locally-made granola (see above), local honey, local berries

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am participating in the September Eat Local Challenge (which is done in association with the Locavores.) Stay tuned for stories, triumphs, tribulations, and sample menus.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A pause from summer travels to enjoy the bounty of summer in Ohio.

I travel a lot in the summer, living in my tent for two or more weeks at a time. I'm glad to be home for a few days before my next adventure, so I thought I would post about today's market experience.

I traveled to Pearl Alley Farmer's Market in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It's not one of the major markets in town, so I was uncertain what I would find. Boy, was I surprised.

I almost bought more than I could carry. Here's the haul, with prices if I remember them:

edamame (quart) $3
summer squash (yellow, zucchini, and patty-pan)
eggplant
green beans (quart) $2.50
corn (6 ears) $2.75
sweet onions
red potatoes
blackberries (quart) $5
strawberries (astonishing! quart) $4
the mother of all cantaloupes (HUGE!) $3.50
peaches (4 large) $5

The prices do run a tad bit higher than grocery store sales, but the produce was all local, and harvested within the last 24 hours. I spent about $40, and half of that was the fruit. Nowadays I go to the grocery store once a week and spend less than twenty bucks. I'd guess that 85-90% of the food I currently consume comes from local farmer's markets. The glaring exceptions are cereal, oils, dairy, grains, beans, and the occasional prepared food. I'll be switching to local milk and butter when I return from my travels in mid-august. I've found local corn meal and soft wheat flour, but not bread flour, rice, lentils or beans. (I know that some of those things simply don't grow in Ohio. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled though.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

harrumph

I thought I had saved a post as a draft, but it appears to have vanished. Drat. In order to fill the void until I rewrite the darn thing, I will give you this:

USDA waters down organic standards Despite protest, the USDA has ruled to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products with the "USDA organic" seal. You can find more info about it here, and you can fill out a form to send a protest letter.

In happier news, hats off to San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for banning the use of city funds in purchasing single-serving bottled water. I had missed the fact that San Francisco banned petroleum-based plastic checkout bags in large markets and pharmacies. Unfortunately the replacement bags are not a huge step up; hopefully they will encourage the use of reusable bags.

Friday, June 15, 2007

some links to explore

In my recent meanderings about the internet, I have come across a few links of note:

http://www.treehugger.com/

This is a mainstream kind of a place, but I can't find fault with anything green targeting the masses. There is A LOT to be found on this site, so take some time to explore. It is international in scope and has quite a number of "how to green" guides (including how to green your wardrobe, water, and sex life.)

The next couple of links were found via treehugger.com:

100-Mile Diet

It's all about eating food produced within 100 miles of your home. It began when Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon decided to spend one year buying or gathering all of their food within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, BC. The site plots your 100-mile zone by zip or postal code, and gives suggestions for getting started (no, you don't have to make a year-long commitment. You can start by committing to one meal, one day, one week, etc.)

(On a related note, Locavores.com is having a local food challenge in September of 2007. )

Solarcookers.org

Given the amount of camping I do, and the number of power outages I have experienced at home so far this year (one a day for the past few days!), one of these may be a wise investment.
There are TONS of plans on-line for making your own (you can even make on from a pizza box!) as well as cooking tips. Here's a helpful link: solar cookings links from knowledgehound.com

In less link-filled news, I am gearing up for tomorrow's farmer's market! Last week we saw tons of strawberries (though I've heard that the hot weather is making the season come and go quickly) as well as the first zucchini, broccoli, and snap peas.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

think about your trash

I went to Kent State in the late 80's/early 90's, and we had no recycling available on campus. The students of McGilvrey Hall took matters into their own hands. I'm not sure who was responsible for it (the Geology department was the main suspect) but they had a very clever approach.

A number of recycling bins, clearly labeled, were placed next to the trash cans in the main hallway. A black-and-white bumper sticker reading "THINK" was placed on the lid of the trash can.

You know what? I did think, every time I used that trash can. I never threw away a recyclable.

I've thought about having some stickers printed up, but as I was looking around on-line, I discovered that cafe press already has them. (They come in a rectangular form as well.)

We should really take the time to think before we commit an item to the trash bin. Is it recyclable? Compostable? Could somebody else use it? Some things are rather unequivocally trash, but is everything?

Think.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On eating locally

While eating locally-grown produce (and other locally raised and/or produced agricultural products) makes a darn good bit of sense, I hadn't really thought about the true importance of it until I read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. (It's a really excellent book, and I recommend that you go out and read it right now!) In it he takes a long, hard look at what we eat, where it comes from, what it goes through, and how far it travels to get to our plates. It's really a good read as well as a lesson in farming and food production in the US today.

In addition, Michael Pollan has a really nice list of links on his web page, including a pdf file of resources for eating sustainably.

Other on-line resources include:
10 reasons to eat local food
Locavores (based in the San Francisco Bay area, but there is information pertinent to all locales. I especially like their guidelines.
Eat Local! from New American Dream

So needless to say, I firmly advocate that you check out your local farmer's markets! A simple Google search (farmer's market+your town name) can turn up previously-undiscovered markets, as well as stores that carry local produce and free-range local meats and eggs. Also, farmer's markets are often mentioned in newspapers and are highlighted on the news, so check your local news sources. Also, there is this handy resource: Local harvest (a map of farmer's markets, family farms, and other sustainably produced food in the United States.)

inaugural post

I am a 37-year old woman living in Columbus, Ohio. This blog is the documentation of my efforts to live a more earth-conscious, greener life. I'm not a crazy hippy or an extremely rabid environmentalist; I am a more or less average person leading a more or less average life, but with a strong desire to reduce my ecological footprint.

So here I will talk about my attempts to eat locally, reduce waste, recycle, compost, and make better choices when purchasing goods. I'm not perfect, and currently not trying to be perfect - but I am trying to become more conscious of my choices and to lessen my impact on the environment.

The content here will be heavily influenced by the seasons. Right now Ohio is on the brink of summer, so my head is full of farmer's markets and my small but mighty garden. Fresh, local produce and the cooking of it are a big subject and passion of mine right now, and that will be a highlight of the coming months.

As a warning, I am not a vegetarian! I used to be one, and I still do not each much meat. What I do eat I buy from local farmers with pasture-raised animals that are fed a natural diet. I will expound on the evils of factory farming at a later date.

So, welcome! As this is a brand-new blog it will seem very bare-bones at first; I plan to add a list of links over the next few weeks, so you may go and explore some of my influences.