A week ago I asked how you could eat locally (or at least thoughtfully) on Earth Day, coming up this Thursday. I figure that for most of us, aiming for closer-to-home choices will be challenging and eye-opening. Here are some of the choices I’m up against in my house.
Coffee? Mocha? Or not? I think Jim’s going to vote for coffee. I’m planning on taking homegrown mint tea to work that day (with honey). That’s the only ‘local’ hot beverage I have on hand–we drank the chamomile tea!
Usual? Porridge from locally grown oats, with chopped BC grown apples, raisins, and crystallized ginger cooked in. Served with vanilla yogurt. Of all that, only the rolled oats and the apples can be conceived of as local, which is certainly the majority of it.
Other option? Toasted bread of locally grown wheat, oats, and honey (but with purchased yeast and salt), topped with local organic cheese. Methinks I’d like some butter with that (not local) and I’d need something to drink. Milk isn’t local either. I do have homemade apple juice.
Best case here probably is bringing home-canned soup to work. But as noted below, though much of the content is from our farm and garden, I didn’t grow potatoes, garlic, or onions, so all those were purchased in the grocery store.
Options here remind me that I did not grown onions or garlic last year. I have homemade ratatouille in the freezer (one package left!)–the tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant were grown in our garden. The same ingredients found their way into pasta sauce, of which we have a few jars left. Is it cheating to use these when I bought the onions and garlic? I can make homemade pasta with our local wheat and eggs. It might be my most local option.
Alternatively, we have local beef, chicken, and lamb in the freezer. Could make a stew (onion and garlic free, if I’m being a purist!) There are carrots, beets, and parsnips to add to that, but not potatoes. We ate all the garden potatoes fresh.
I can buy fresh local lettuce, and garnish with chives from my garden, but what would I use for a dressing? Ideas?
We don’t eat dessert on a regular basis, but my most local dessert would have to be stewed fruit with a rolled oat/honey topping. There’s a lot of fruit still in the freezer–huckleberries, raspberries, blackberries, and peaches. We could even have a glass of rhubarb mead (if one discounts the purchased yeast) with our dessert!
What am I learning just debating a fully local day or meal? What’s missing from my local diet is: salt, pepper, oils, and dairy products other than cheese. (There is an organic dairy less than 100 miles away but with no outlet here.) In theory I could bake only sourdough bread (no purchased yeast). And if I want to eat local vegetable staples such as potatoes, garlic, and onions, I need to plant way more of them and find a way to store them, or hook up with someone already doing so.
Are we likely to switch to 100% local eating in our household? Not any time soon, but it’s educating to contemplate our dependence on outside food and what simple steps we could take to minimize those. After all, awareness is a vital first step.
Has this post caused you to contemplate where the food you eat comes from? What choices–large or small–can you make on Earth Day to support a local gardener or farmer? Please share.