Monday, June 16, 2008

Local Food Challenge


Earlier this year my family made the decision that we would try to eat more locally. This would include buying more locally grown or raised meat and vegetables, eating in restaurants that bring in local foods and buying locally from the grocery stores if that was possible. Local for us is defined by any meat or vegetable that is brought in to our area from a distance of no further than 250 miles away. I felt that number would keep us away from the produce one finds all year long at the local discount and grocery stores that comes from the warmer states out west. But, it would give us access to the fruits and vegetables from the southern region of the U.S. to a point. That distance number will come down as we get better at this. It would also force us to do several things. One, grow and preserve some of our own food. Two, frequent restaurants that bring in foods that do not come from thousands of miles away. And three, and you will probably snicker at this, cook at home more. More about this later....

I felt this was an important undertaking for myself and my two sons and one that others might enjoy reading about...even possibly getting on the local bandwagon. We'll blog our successes and failures here for you to read about. So, here goes....

Late spring and early summer are better times of the year to get a family started on eating locally. Winter time would be difficult if we weren't prepared by growing vegetables that will keep over winter. More about that as the season progresses. Back to the present.....here in the southeast spring comes early and with that comes early vegetables. Lettuces, cabbage, cauliflower (as pictured of Rainbow Hill's display this past Sunday at the Chattanooga Market), snow peas, radishes, new potatoes, green beans, zucchini and squash are now becoming plentiful. Salads are a staple at every dinner that we are managing to eat at home. We're on the road a lot right now with baseball games so planning ahead and taking it with us is working right now. Eating before or after a game at home is an option too. It has been tricky finding any restaurant that does not truck in their produce and meat from huge distribution centers thousands of miles away, but we do have a couple local restaurants that give a good selection of homemade and homegrown dishes on their menus.
We are very late getting our vegetable gardens in this year. A very busy wholesale and retail spring season here at Possum Creek pushed off a lot of work that should have gotten done earlier but just didn't. Pat is frantically trying to get the big "canning and freezing" garden installed at her family homestead. Most if not all the vegetable starts came from seed that she started over the winter and early spring. Most if not all the vegetables will be organically grown as well. Another huge plus for the families. Plans are that both families will come together to keep the garden watered and semi-weed free. Harvesting and preserving will be our jobs later this summer when the bounty comes in. Preparation here at home began with a purchase of a deep freezer for the basement. Vegetables that benefit from freezing will go in there as will the half of a steer we are currently waiting to grow larger and are expecting in a few more weeks. The steer is being raised on pasture only in Georgia. Two pluses are the steer is not being fed by-products, antibiotics and other harmful additions to its diet. The other plus is the steer is just a few miles away from us which falls into our local "mileage" specification. Score points for our team!
We didn't come by this decision lightly. After reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver at least three times in the past year we felt this was an important move for our family. I know you all read the newspaper and watch CNN. Can you blame us for trying this?
In the weeks ahead I will blog how things are going and each Wednesday I will be sharing some of the recipes we have come across and how they added to our challenge. And what has been working for us as a family. We would love to hear comments from you all and see who else is locally eating this summer. But for now....back to the garden.

5 comments:

Livia Indica said...

I don't blame you at all. We've been purchasing and then deep freezing local pigs and it's great. More for a good price and much higher quality. I imagine you'll be very happy with your local steer.

Tina Sams said...

Tag - You're it. There are 5 questions on my blog: http://theessentialherbal.blogspot.com/
now it's your turn, then tag a few of your blogging pals.

Where fibers meet mud said...

I just started that book and have been aware of locavore habits for a while. I have always had a tendency to support the small business instead of the chain store. I am trying this myself and we have Amish chickens that are local to us - so life is good..

FMH said...

How has it been going?
I have been compiling a list and map of local food producers and farms and been doing well. A friend at church has chickens so we get eggs from her.
Florence

Herbfarmer said...

Hi Livia,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I really should be blogging more about this adventure. Finding local farms has been a little challenging but we're hooking up with some great ones. The Chattanooga Market helps each Sunday with the produce and baked goods that I don't do myself.