On a (local) roll

That last post was fun – not just because of all of your fierce-mama comments that made me happy to have this community, but also because it felt a little like an on-line book club.

Next up: Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She, her husband, and her 2 daughters wrote this together about their year of eating only home-grown or locally-produced food. I love food writing, I love eating, and having our 5-years-and-counting CSA membership makes me feel both virtuous and full (an excellent combination). So I’ve been very excited about this book.

They planted a huge garden and decided to purchase only foods grown in their own community. They each got to choose one exception, as long as it was something that could be purchased in a way that supported organic farming and put as much money as possible into the pocket of the farmer – coffee was a no-brainer. She can get a little preachy at times, but it’s tempered by genuinely useful (and frightening) information about how, for example, you actually end up with asparagus on your plate in the dead of a New England winter or what a family of four can do with 400 pounds of homegrown tomatoes, and by stories and recipes written by her older daughter.

Now I’m walking around obsessed. The idea of buying locally grown foods isn’t new to me – it’s why we joined a CSA in the first place, and I think that environmentally-sensitive eating is probably the new black among certain segments of the population. But this has gotten me to a whole different level, and now I feel like I’m tasting the gasoline that facilitated the path of that New Zealand apple from the other side of the world into my fridge. Even the local co-op, usually pretty good about stocking locally-grown food, has peppers from Holland right now, even though they’re actually in season right now.

I’ve gotten to be pretty good about freezing berries and corn and the like when they’re in season, and my sister-in-law (back when we were actually spending time together) taught me to make sauerkraut and kimchi so I could manage the zillion heads of cabbage that come our way every fall. I’m still a little afraid of actually canning, though, which I know would help. Besides that, it seems like we’re shit out of luck in a New England winter, especially in the city.

So I’m looking for your ideas. What do you to do buy more local food, put more food up when it’s in season (without being Martha Freakin’ Stewart or sweating to death while canning every weekend of July and August), or otherwise support the locals?

And if you read the book, what did you think?

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2 Responses to On a (local) roll

  1. shannon says:

    No advice. We’re out of luck in the Midwest in winter too. There are still some local things in the eco-friendly mart these days, but not many. I rely a lot on frozen (big corporate) organic produce in the winter. Much as I’d like to be all local all year, I want to be able to easily give my kids a varied nutritious diet. My learning curve is slow, so we still go through a lot of frozen blueberries and broccoli florets around here in the winter.

  2. cmp72 says:

    I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle waiting in my book queue, though I have read and heard excerpts from the book. My partner and I are wanna be farmers. Eating local in the upper Midwest really isn’t possible unless you plan carefully throughout the year. Local hydroponics (salad greens and tomatoes) are produced year-round, but the energy used to produce them seems to negate local.

    I have a Martha Stewart streak, so here is what I do:
    – Freeze extra produce from our CSA share and our little garden
    – Buy basil at the farmer’s market and freeze pesto
    – Can tomatoes, salsa, applesauce, jams, etc.
    – Dry tomatoes and herbs

    When local isn’t an option at the coop, we try to limit ourselves to domestic items and skip the grapes from Chile. Since it is just the two of us right now we don’t have an additional freezer. That will likely change when/if our household increases and there will be more space to put away local food for the winter.

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