Sunday, July 19, 2009

A month of eating locally

It has been about a month since my last posting and committing to eating locally.

It has been a good experience so far. A couple of Saturdays I had other engagements in the morning through the market hours and was thinking about how to make it to the market. The beauty of farmer's markets is that they open 9am. So, in order to keep my commitment of eating locally this summer, I have been getting to the market by 9 sharp. I have been frequenting the Clintonville Farmer's market. I know now the layout of the stalls and when I have to, I can finish my shopping in a half hour flat! The Grandview farmer's market just started last week and I plan to start walking there this coming Saturday. Between a couple of the markets, I should be able to get everything that we need.

What I have been able to do is buy the vegetables, fruits and meat that my family needs for the week. My family consists of 3 pre-adolescent girls and my husband. The four of them have been pleasantly surprised at how much they have liked the items that I have bought and cooked.

One of the most amazing things was getting freshly harvested garlic. This is simply amazing!! The flavor just explodes....I think one could get away with using half of what a recipe calls for. I made a simple saute of green beans in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. The garlic roasted itself in the saucepan to a lovely sweet and crunchy taste that made the fresh green beans taste fabulous too.

I have found that cooking with these fresh veggies requires little in the way of seasoning. The flavors are so pure and very little seasoning is needed. The fruits are so true to their flavors. I just bought peaches yesterday which were simply lovely....very peachy! No additives needed to bring out their goodness.

Meats...they are flavorful and a minimal of seasoning is required to bring out their full flavor. The meats cook more easily and retain their natural goodness. I have purchased chicken, pork and pork sausages. I have also bought eggs. These eggs come from hens that are pasture raised and as the vendor said to me "I love my girls" and I think the love comes through to the eggs. The eggs have a bright yellow yolk - something that you won't see with the more conventional egg farm eggs. The taste is fresh and really good.

Going to the market has stimulated the cook in me. I am enjoying cooking more than ever. It is such an adventure to take tried and true items like carrots, green beans and garlic (love this!!) and see the difference freshness makes.

There are of course things that we cannot get from the markets but these items are modest in number. I plan to explore some of the other markets around to see if I can reduce the items I purchase in the more conventional grocery store and continue to expand my support of the sustainable food chain. Not that grocery stores are evil at all....I am thankful for them and that they provide a needed service for many items that our modern lives require. However, supporting local farmers is really important in my view to supporting the local economy. Ohio can use all the help it can get from consumers keeping dollars in Ohio. It is akin to my excitement that my neighborhood of Grandview finally has a hardware store (Goodale Pro Hardware on Goodale Ave.) that will save a 20 minute drive to suburbs and also keep dollars local.

Emotionally, culturally and financially, eating locally just works. I am vested and connected to my food more so now because I know the growers and have talked to them. I love that I know the history of my heirloom Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes which I will eat in the next few days. Culturally, American farmers are an amazing breed especially those committed to sustainable farming. I like supporting their efforts and just as I know where my food comes from, I know where my money goes when I buy from the farmer. Financially, our food spending over the past month is a bit less than before I started buying our staples almost exclusively from the markets. I am delighted by all these facets that have enriched our lives this past month.

I urge you and your families to take advantage of the bounty of Ohio farmland. It is wonderful. Let your kids pick out the veggies....if they can see where their food comes from and they pick it out, they are more likely to eat it. Keep eating local. It will do your body, mind and spirit good!